Gearhart v. Angeloff

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Citation244 N.E.2d 802,17 Ohio App.2d 143
Parties, 46 O.O.2d 207 GEARHART, Appellee. v. ANGELOFF et al., Appellants.
Decision Date19 February 1969

Syllabus by the Court

Punitive damages may be recovered in an action for negligence where such negligence is so gross as to show a reckless indifference to the rights and safety of other persons.

A. P. Feldman and Albert S. Walker, Akron, for appellee.

Belden & Eastman, Akron, for appellants.

HUNSICKER, Presiding Judge.

In this appeal on questions of law, the chief question revoles around a problem where actual and punitive damages were awarded against Robert Angeloff, and compensatory damages against his brother, Karl, partners in the operation of a bar in the city of Akron, Summit County, Ohio.

Tommy Gearhart, then twenty years of age, the plaintiff (appellee), entered the Elbow Grille on Arlington Street, Akron, Ohio, and purchased some beer. While he was seated at the bar, another person entered the Grille and caused a disturbance. One of the defendants, Karl Angeloff (an appellant), a partner in the business, tried to evict the troublemaker. In the tussel that followed, Karl and the troublemaker fell to the floor. It was at that time that Robert Angeloff, a partner, obtained a revolver and shot across the bar in the direction of the two men on the floor. The bullet grazed the arm of Tommy Gearhart. The police came while Tommy Gearhart was seated at the bar. He said nothing to anyone about being shot. Tommy Gearhart left the bar, but returned with his sister in about a half hour, telling the Angeloffs that he had been shot. He then was taken by his sister to a hospital and there the abrasion on his arm was examined. He then returned home. He testified that he lost between two and three weeks' work because of the injury to his arm.

An action was commenced by Tommy Gearhart against both Robert Angeloff and Karl Angeloff for compensatory damages and punitive damages. Robert, his wife, Helen, and Karl Angeloff were partners in the operation of the Elbow Grille. There is nothing in this record which discloses that Karl Angeloff in any manner was involved in the wilful discharge of the gun. The fact that the brothers are partners does make them jointly responsible for the tortious acts of the other in a situation such as this. The maintenance of order in the bar was a normal business activity. Partners acting within the scope of the business are jointly liable for the tortious acts of another partner. Vrabel v. Acri, 156 Ohio St. 467, 103 N.E.2d 564, 30 A.L.R.2d 853.

The next question concerns the assessment of punitive damages against Robert Angeloff. There is sufficient credible evidence to sustain the judgment for compensatory damages against both Robert and Karl.

In Smithhisler v. Dutter, 157 Ohio St. 454 at 461, 105 N.E.2d 868, the Supreme Court of Ohio quoted with approval the statement concerning punitive damages made by Judge Hart of that court in a dissenting opinion, in Saberton v. Greenwald, 146 Ohio St. 414, at page 437, 66 N.E.2d 224, at page 234, 165 A.L.R. 599, where, he said:

'This court has, over the years, recognized the propriety of submitting to a jury the question of the assessment of punitive damages in certain tort cases where the defendant's wrongdoing has been intentional and deliberate, or has the character of outrage frequently associated with crime. Not all tort actions are of such a character as to warrant the assessment of punitive damages. Generally the application of the doctrine is confined to cases where there is involved actual malice, interference with marital relations, or wanton personal injury, such as in cases of seduction, assault and battery,...

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19 cases
  • Women's Medical Professional Corp. v. Voinovich
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • December 13, 1995
    ...which is a more serious offense, and exposes the physician to a greater degree of liability. See, e.g., Gearhart v. Angeloff, 17 Ohio App.2d 143, 244 N.E.2d 802 (1969) ("Punitive damages may be recovered in an action for negligence where such negligence is so gross as to show a reckless ind......
  • Drayton v. Jiffee Chemical Corp., s. 76-1941
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • December 19, 1978
    ...the clear need for the imposition as a deterrent." 395 F.Supp. at 1098. On the other hand, the plaintiffs cite Gearhart v. Angeloff, 17 Ohio App.2d 143, 244 N.E.2d 802, 804 (1969), for the proposition that punitive damages may be recovered where a person demonstrates "reckless indifference ......
  • Jones v. Wittenberg University, s. 75-1459
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • April 22, 1976
    ...not intended, but it may constitute negligence if it was done so carelessly as to result in foreseeable injury. See Gearhart v. Angeloff, 17 Ohio App.2d 143, 244 N.E.2d 802 (Ct.App. Summit Co. 1969). See also, Young v. Kelley, 60 Ohio App. 382, 21 N.E.2d 602 (Ct.App. Auglaize Co. 1938). In ......
  • Kimble v. Universal TV Rental, Inc., M-79-CV-E-022889
    • United States
    • Court of Common Pleas of Ohio
    • August 20, 1980
    ...damages." Davis v. Tunison (1959), 168 Ohio St. 471, 155 N.E.2d 904, paragraph two of the syllabus. See, also, Gearhart v. Angeloff (1969), 17 Ohio App.2d 143, 244 N.E.2d 802. In the case of M. J. Rose Co. v. Lowery (1929), 33 Ohio App. 488, 169 N.E. 716, the court found that a mortgagee un......
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