927 N.E.2d 1092 (Ohio 2010), 2008-0972, Stetter v. R.J. Corman Derailment Services, L.L.C.

Docket Nº:2008-0972.
Citation:927 N.E.2d 1092, 125 Ohio St.3d 280, 2010-Ohio-1029
Opinion Judge:CUPP, J.
Party Name:STETTER et al. v. R.J. CORMAN DERAILMENT SERVICES, L.L.C., et al.
Attorney:Barkan & Robon, Ltd., Joseph R. Deitz Jr., R. Ethan Davis, and James M. Tuschman, Maumee, for petitioners. Eastman & Smith, Ltd., Margaret Mattimoe Sturgeon, Robert J. Gilmer Jr., and Sarah E. Pawlicki, Toledo, for respondents. Richard Cordray, Attorney General, Benjamin C. Mizer, Solicitor Gener...
Judge Panel:MOYER, C.J., and LUNDBERG STRATTON, O'DONNELL, and LANZINGER, JJ., concur. O'CONNOR, J., concurs in the answers only. PFEIFER, J., dissents. PFEIFER, J., dissenting.
Case Date:March 23, 2010
Court:Supreme Court of Ohio
 
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927 N.E.2d 1092 (Ohio 2010)

125 Ohio St.3d 280, 2010-Ohio-1029

STETTER et al.

v.

R.J. CORMAN DERAILMENT SERVICES, L.L.C., et al.

No. 2008-0972.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

March 23, 2010

Submitted Feb. 18, 2009.

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SYLLABUS OF THE COURT

1. R.C. 2745.01, as enacted by Am.H.B. No. 498, effective April 7, 2005, does not violate the Ohio Constitution's trial-by-jury provision (Section 5, Article I), the right-to-a-remedy and open-courts provisions (Section 16, Article I), the due-course-of-law provision (Section 16, Article I), the equal protection provision (Section 2, Article I), or the separation-of-powers doctrine and is therefore constitutional on its face.

2. R.C. 2745.01, as enacted by Am.H.B. No. 498, effective April 7, 2005, does not conflict with the legislative authority granted to the General Assembly by Sections 34 and 35, Article II of the Ohio Constitution. ( Kaminski v. Metal & Wire Prods. Co., 125 Ohio St.3d 250, 2010-Ohio-1027, 927 N.E.2d 1066, syllabus, followed.)

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3. R.C. 2745.01, as enacted by Am.H.B. No. 498, effective April 7, 2005, does not eliminate the common-law cause of action for an employer intentional tort.

Barkan & Robon, Ltd., Joseph R. Deitz Jr., R. Ethan Davis, and James M. Tuschman, Maumee, for petitioners.

Eastman & Smith, Ltd., Margaret Mattimoe Sturgeon, Robert J. Gilmer Jr., and Sarah E. Pawlicki, Toledo, for respondents.

Richard Cordray, Attorney General, Benjamin C. Mizer, Solicitor General, Elisabeth A. Long, Deputy Solicitor, and Robert X. Eskridge and Sharon A. Jennings, Assistant Attorneys General, in support of respondents for amicus curiae Attorney General of Ohio.

Bricker & Eckler, L.L.P., Kurtis A. Tunnell, Anne Marie Sferra, and Vladimir P. Belo, Columbus, in support of respondents for amici curiae American Insurance Association and Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, L.L.P., Joseph W. Ryan Jr., and Daniel B. Miller, Columbus; and Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly, L.L.P., and Mark S. Olson, Minneapolis, MN, in support of respondents for amicus curiae International Association of Defense Counsel.

Garvin & Hickey, L.L.C., Preston J. Garvin, and Michael J. Hickey, Columbus; Bricker & Eckler, L.L.P., Cleveland, and Thomas R. Sant, Columbus; and Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, L.L.P., and Robert A. Minor, Columbus, in support of respondents for amici curiae Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, and Ohio Self-Insurers Association.

Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, L.L.P., Richard D. Schuster, Michael J. Hendershot, Kristi K. Wilhelmy, and Benjamin A. Shepler, Columbus, in support of respondents for amicus curiae Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.

CUPP, J.

[125 Ohio St.3d 281] {¶ 1} We accepted review of certified questions of state law from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division, regarding the validity of R.C. 2745.01, Ohio's employer intentional-tort statute, under the Ohio Constitution. For the reasons that follow, we answer the certified questions in the negative and hold that R.C. 2745.01, which was enacted by Am.H.B. No. 498, 150 Ohio Laws, Part IV, 5533, effective April 7, 2005, is facially constitutional. See also our decision in case No. 2008-0857, Kaminski v. Metal & Wire Prods. Co., 125 Ohio St.3d 250, 2010-Ohio-1027, 927 N.E.2d 1066, decided today as well.1

I. The Certification Order and the Questions to Be Answered

{¶ 2} The federal district court's amended certification order sets forth the following brief statement of the facts:

{¶ 3} " The Complaint alleges that on March 13, 2006, while employed by Defendant R.J. Corman Derailment Services LLC, Plaintiff Carl Stetter was injured while working in the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiff Carl Stetter applied for and received workers' compensation benefits as a result of the injuries he sustained on March 13, 2006.

{¶ 4} " Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in the Wood County Common Pleas Court. Defendants removed the action to the

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United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division. Federal jurisdiction is based upon 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because there is diversity between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

{¶ 5} " Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges that Defendants committed an employer intentional tort. On February 29, 2008, pursuant to an order of this Court, Defendants filed an Amended Answer in which they asserted that Plaintiffs are [125 Ohio St.3d 282] unable to establish any deliberate intent by the Defendants to cause Plaintiffs' injuries and therefore Plaintiffs' claims are barred by R.C. 2745.01. On March 17, 2008, pursuant to an Order of this Court, Plaintiffs filed their Motion to Strike and/or For Declaratory Judgment asserting that R.C. 2745.01 is unconstitutional. To fully adjudicate this matter and determine the rights and liabilities of each party, this Court needs a determination by the Ohio Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of R.C. 2745.01 under the Ohio Constitution. The Supreme Court of Ohio has not yet had opportunity to issue a decision on the constitutionality of R.C. 2745.01, as enacted by House Bill 498 effective April 7, 2005."

{¶ 6} The federal court certified the following eight questions to this court:

{¶ 7} " 1. Is R.C. § 2745.01, as enacted by House Bill 498, effective April 7, 2005, unconstitutional for violating the right to trial by jury?

{¶ 8} " 2. Is R.C. § 2745.01, as enacted by House Bill 498, effective April 7, 2005, unconstitutional for violating the right to a remedy?

{¶ 9} " 3. Is R.C. § 2745.01, as enacted by House Bill 498, effective April 7, 2005, unconstitutional for violating the right to an open court?

{¶ 10} " 4. Is R.C. § 2745.01, as enacted by House Bill 498, effective April 7, 2005, unconstitutional for violating the right to due process of law?

{¶ 11} " 5. Is R.C. § 2745.01, as enacted by House Bill 498, effective April 7, 2005, unconstitutional for violating the right to equal protection of the law?

{¶ 12} " 6. Is R.C. § 2745.01, as enacted by House Bill 498, effective April 7, 2005, unconstitutional for violating the separation of powers?

{¶ 13} " 7. Is R.C. § 2745.01, as enacted by House Bill 498, effective April 7, 2005, unconstitutional for conflicting with the legislative authority granted to the General Assembly by § 34 and § 35, Article II, of the Ohio Constitution?

{¶ 14} " 8. Does R.C. § 2745.01, as enacted by House Bill 498, effective April 7, 2005, do away with the common law cause of action for employer intentional tort?"

{¶ 15} We reviewed the parties' preliminary memoranda and consented to answer the eight certified questions of the amended order. 119 Ohio St.3d 1452, 2008-Ohio-4562, 893 N.E.2d 520.2

{¶ 16} Plaintiffs Carl and Doris Stetter are the petitioners in this matter. The respondents are defendants R.J. Corman Derailment Services, L.L.C., and R.J. Corman Railroad Group, L.L.C.

[125 Ohio St.3d 283]II. Analysis

{¶ 17} R.C. 2745.01, effective April 7, 2005, provides in its entirety:

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{¶ 18} " (A) In an action brought against an employer by an employee, or by the dependent survivors of a deceased employee, for damages resulting from an intentional tort committed by the employer during the course of employment, the employer shall not be liable unless the plaintiff proves that the employer committed the tortious act with the intent to injure another or with the belief that the injury was substantially certain to occur.

{¶ 19} " (B) As used in this section, ‘ substantially certain’ means that an employer acts with deliberate intent to cause an employee to suffer an injury, a disease, a condition, or death.

{¶ 20} " (C) Deliberate removal by an employer of an equipment safety guard or deliberate misrepresentation of a toxic or hazardous substance creates a rebuttable presumption that the removal or misrepresentation was committed with intent to injure another if an injury or an occupational disease or condition occurs as a direct result.

{¶ 21} " (D) This section does not apply to claims arising during the course of employment involving discrimination, civil rights, retaliation, harassment in violation of Chapter 4112 of the Revised Code, intentional infliction of emotional distress not compensable under Chapters 4121 and 4123 of the Revised Code, contract, promissory estoppel, or defamation." 150 Ohio Laws, Part IV, 5533.

{¶ 22} In Kaminski, 125 Ohio St.3d 250, 2010-Ohio-1027, 927 N.E.2d 1066, we reviewed the history and development of employer intentional-tort law in Ohio. In particular, we examined this court's decisions in Brady v. Safety-Kleen Corp. (1991), 61 Ohio St.3d 624, 576 N.E.2d 722, and Johnson v. BP Chems., Inc. (1999), 85 Ohio St.3d 298, 707 N.E.2d 1107, both of which struck down legislation governing employer intentional torts. We draw upon Kaminski in answering the certified questions of this case.3

A. The Statutory Purpose

{¶ 23} In an argument going to the eighth certified question, petitioners assert that R.C. 2745.01 " does not do away with the common law cause of action for employer intentional tort." (Emphasis added.) Rather than arguing that R.C. 2745.01 is unconstitutional, petitioners present an elaborate argument that R.C. 2745.01 is actually constitutional when understood in its proper context.

{¶ 24} Petitioners...

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