461 N.E.2d 1273 (Ohio 1984), 83-383, Seasons Coal Co., Inc. v. City of Cleveland
|Citation:||461 N.E.2d 1273, 10 Ohio St.3d 77|
|Opinion Judge:||Per Curiam.|
|Party Name:||SEASONS COAL COMPANY, INC. et al., Appellants, v. CITY OF CLEVELAND, Appellee.|
|Attorney:||Climaco, Seminatore, Lefkowitz & Kaplan Co., L.P.A., John R. Climaco and Paul S. Lefkowitz, Cleveland, for appellants., John D. Maddox, Director of Law, Michael A. Pohl and Richard F. Horvath, Cleveland, for appellee. Climaco, Seminatore, Lefkowitz & Kaplan Co., L.P.A., Mr. John R. Climaco and M...|
|Judge Panel:||FRANK D. CELEBREZZE, C.J., and WILLIAM B. BROWN, SWEENEY, HOLMES, CLIFFORD F. BROWN and JAMES P. CELEBREZZE, JJ., concur.|
|Case Date:||April 18, 1984|
|Court:||Supreme Court of Ohio|
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
The appellee city contends that its contract with appellant Seasons was void for fraud because the affidavit submitted with Seasons' bid contained a forged signature. The city also argues that the contract with Seasons was void because the alleged forged affidavit was submitted by Seasons in order to evade the competitive bidding requirements set forth in Section 108 of the Cleveland City Charter. 1
After reviewing extensive testimony and numerous exhibits, the trial court held, inter alia, that there was no intent to defraud the city on the part of Seasons, and that the contract was entered into in accordance and compliance with the Cleveland City Charter.
The central issue before us in the case sub judice is whether the trial court's ruling that the forged affidavit did not constitute fraud in the inducement and did not violate Section 108 of the Cleveland City Charter was correctly reversed by the court of appeals as being against the manifest weight of the evidence.
In reviewing the trial judge's decision, the court of appeals majority apparently acted pursuant to its grant of authority set forth in App.R. 12(C). 2 See, also, Bridgeport Bank Co. v. Shadyside Coal Co. (1930), 121 Ohio St. 544, 170 N.E. 358; Chester Park Co. v. Schulte (1929), 120 Ohio St. 273, 166 N.E. 186.
While we agree with the proposition that in some instances an appellate court is duty-bound to exercise the limited prerogative of reversing a judgment as being against the manifest weight of the evidence in a proper case, it [10 Ohio St.3d 80] is also important that in doing so a court of appeals be guided by a presumption that the findings of the trier-of-fact were indeed correct. 3
The underlying rationale of giving deference to the findings of the trial court rests with the knowledge that the trial judge is best able to view the witnesses and observe their demeanor, gestures and voice inflections, and use these observations in weighing the credibility of the proffered testimony. The interplay between the presumption of correctness and the ability of an appellate court to reverse a trial court decision based on the manifest weight of the evidence was succinctly set forth in the holding of this court in C.E. Morris Co. v. Foley Construction Co. (1978), 54 Ohio St.2d 279, 376 N.E.2d 578 [8 O.O.3d 261]:
"Judgments supported by some competent, credible evidence going to all the essential elements of the case will not be reversed by a reviewing court as being against the manifest weight of the evidence."
We are of the opinion that the court of appeals failed to give the trial court's decision a presumption of correctness in the case at bar. We believe that an appellate court should not substitute its judgment for that of the trial court when there exists, as in this case, competent and credible evidence supporting the findings of fact and conclusions of law rendered by the trial judge. A careful...
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