Bates v. Ohio Dep't of Rehab. & Corr., 2021-00042JD

CourtCourt of Claims of Ohio
Writing for the CourtPATRICK E. SHEERAN JUDGE
Citation2022 Ohio 652
Decision Date12 January 2022
Docket Number2021-00042JD
PartiesROBERT L. BATES, JR. Plaintiff v. OHIO DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION Defendant

2022-Ohio-652

ROBERT L. BATES, JR. Plaintiff
v.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION Defendant

No. 2021-00042JD

Court of Claims of Ohio

January 12, 2022


Sent to S.C. Reporter 3/7/22

Robert Van Schoyck Magistrate Judge

ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

PATRICK E. SHEERAN JUDGE

{¶1} On November 23, 2021, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Civ.R. 56(B). Plaintiff did not file a response. The motion is now before the court for a non-oral hearing pursuant to Civ.R. 56 and L.C.C.R. 4(D).

{¶2} Civ.R. 56(C) states, in part, as follows:

Summary judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, written admissions, affidavits, transcripts of evidence, and written stipulations of fact, if any, timely filed in the action show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. No evidence or stipulation may be considered except as stated in this rule. A summary judgment shall not be rendered unless it appears from the evidence or stipulation and only from the evidence or stipulation, that reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion and that conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion for summary judgment is made, that party being entitled to have the evidence or stipulation construed most strongly in the party's favor

See also Gilbert v. Summit Cty., 104 Ohio St.3d 660, 2004-Ohio-7108, 821 N.E.2d 564, ¶ 6, citing Temple v. Wean United, Inc., 50 Ohio St.2d 317, 364 N.E.2d 267 (1977).

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{¶3} Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody and control of defendant, brings this action alleging that on December 16, 2020, he was assigned to a cell at the Corrections Reception Center (CRC) where, several hours later, he "stepped on a rusty nail that was protruding from the floor. (Complaint, ¶ 2.) According to the complaint, plaintiff subsequently notified prison authorities about the object protruding from the floor and he reported the injury to a nurse who apparently arranged for him to receive a tetanus shot. The complaint provides that plaintiff was temporarily relocated to another cell and that when he returned the "nail was grinded back into the floor." (Id.)

{¶4} Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for his physical and emotional harm resulting from the injury, claiming that "Defendant was notified of the problem in advance and could have reasonably acted to prevent Plaintiffs injury." (Id. at ¶ 3.) More specifically, according to the complaint, when plaintiff initially entered the cell he "surveyed the cell and noticed the bed was unbolted" and the "officers who worked the unit was well aware that the cell plaintiff was assigned to had been in bad condition prior to putting plaintiff in there". (Id. at ¶ 2.)

{¶5} Plaintiffs complaint is construed as sounding in negligence. "To recover on a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (1) that a defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, (2) that a defendant breached that duty, and (3) that the breach of the duty proximately caused a plaintiffs injury." Ford v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 05AP-357, 2006-Ohio-2531, ¶ 10.

{¶6} "Typically under Ohio law, premises liability is dependent upon the injured person's status as an invitee, licensee, or a trespasser. * * * However, with respect to custodial relationships between the state and its inmates, the state has a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent prisoners in its custody from being injured by dangerous conditions about which the state knows or should know." Cordell v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 08AP-749, 2009-Ohio-1555, ¶ 6.

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{¶7} "Although the state is not an insurer of the safety of its prisoners, once the state becomes aware of a dangerous condition in the prison, it is required to take the reasonable care...

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