Simpson v. Voiture Nationale La Societe Des Quarante Hommes

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
PartiesCHARLES SIMPSON Plaintiff-Appellant v. VOITURE NATIONALE LA SOCIETE DES QUARANTE HOMMES, et al. Defendants-Appellees
Docket Number29016
Decision Date25 June 2021


CHARLES SIMPSON Plaintiff-Appellant


No. 29016

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

June 25, 2021

Civil Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 2020-CV-2123

CHARLES SIMPSON, Lammes Lane, New Carlisle, Plaintiff-Appellant, Pro Se.

KEVIN A. BOWMAN, West Second Street, Suite Attorney for Defendants-Appellees, Brannon & Associates and Plaintiffs- Appellees, Grande Voiture D'Ohio La Societe Des 40 Hommes Et 8 Chevaux.

EDWARD J. DOWD, and CHRISTOPHER T. HERMAN, Old Yankee Street, Suite C, Dayton, Attorneys for Defendants-Appellees, Voiture Nationale La Societe Des Quarante Hommes.



{¶ 1} Charles Simpson appeals from the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas' entry of judgment on the pleadings against him on several causes of action in his complaint and its dismissal of those claims with prejudice. The judgment dismissed an additional cause of action without prejudice. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I. Facts and Procedural Background

{¶ 2} Simpson is a licensed attorney in Ohio. According to the complaint, he is "an officer and director of the corporation previously known as Montgomery County Voiture No. 34, La Societe des 40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux (hereinafter "Voiture 34") now known as Huber Heights Veterans Club, Inc.," and he "serves the corporation as its legal counsel and represents the corporation in legal transactions and litigation."

{¶ 3} In May 2020, Simpson filed a complaint for "Violations of Civil Rights, Defamation, Injuries and Damages" against Grande Voiture D'Ohio La Societe des 40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux ("Ohio Voiture"), Voiture Nationale, La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux (Voiture Nationale), and Brannon & Associates.[1]

{¶ 4} The defendants filed answers and, subsequently, motions for judgment on the pleadings. Simpson filed responses opposing the motions.

{¶ 5} On January 7, 2021, the trial court granted the motions for judgment on the pleadings. The court stated:

With respect to Mr. Simpson's claims of defamation, civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and his stand-alone claims of identity fraud, extortion, coercion, and interfering with civil rights, the Court finds that there is no conceivable set of facts under which Mr. Simpson could recover and that these claims cannot be pled in another way thus, dismissal of these claims is with prejudice. However with respect to Mr. Simpson's claim of civil recovery for criminal acts under R.C. 2307.60 and/or R.C. 2307.611, the Court finds that these claims could be pled in such a way that Mr. Simpson may be entitled to relief, and thus the dismissal of this claim is without prejudice

Order Granting Judgment on the Pleadings (Jan. 7, 2021). [2]

{¶ 6} Simpson appeals.

II. Analysis

{¶ 7} The sole assignment of error asserted by Simpson is:


{¶ 8} Simpson contends the trial court had no basis for rendering judgment against him.

{¶ 9} Civ.R. 12(C) provides: "After the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the trial, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings." "Determination of a motion for judgment on the pleadings is restricted solely to the allegations in the pleadings and any writings attached to the complaint." Offill v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 25079, 2012-Ohio-6225, ¶ 14, citing Peterson v. Teodosio, 34 Ohio St.2d 161, 165, 297 N.E.2d 113 (1973). "The trial court may grant a judgment on the pleadings where no material factual issue exists and one party is entitled to a judgment in his favor as a matter of law." (Citations omitted.) Vaught v. Vaught, 2 Ohio App.3d 264, 265, 441 N.E.2d 811 (12th Dist.1981). We review the trial court's decision to grant judgment on the pleadings de novo. Inskeep v. Burton, 2d Dist. Champaign No. 2007-CA-11, 2008-Ohio-1982, ¶ 7, citing Dearth v. Stanley, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 22180, 2008-Ohio-487.

{¶ 10} With this standard in mind, we turn first to the trial court's decision to enter judgment on the pleadings and dismiss Simpson's claim of identity fraud. Simpson's complaint asserted that the defendants committed identity fraud in violation of R.C. 2313.49, which provides, in pertinent part, that "[n]o person, without the express or implied consent of the other person, shall use, obtain, or possess any personal identifying information of another person with intent to * * * [h]old the person out to be the other person [or] [r]epresent the other person's personal identifying information as the person's own personal identifying information." R.C. 2313.49(B)(1-2)

{¶ 11} The allegations set forth in the complaint relevant to this cause of action stated:

[Voiture 34] was previously affiliated with the 40 & 8 organization but terminated that affiliation on June 1, 2015. The Defendants, through their agents and representatives, on multiple occasions, have used the personal identifying information of the corporation and have held [Ohio Voiture] out to be the corporation and represent that the name of the corporation is [Ohio Voiture's] name. Such actions constitute identity fraud and are prohibited by ORC 2913.49. Plaintiff is a person injured by defendant's acts of identity fraud.

{¶ 12} Taking this allegation as true, Simpson has, at most, alleged that the defendants improperly misappropriated the name of Voiture 34. However, Simpson did not allege any basis for bringing an action in his name rather than that of the corporation. He did not cite any statute which would have provided him with standing to bring such an action, nor did he allege he was a shareholder in the corporation so as to give him the right to bring a shareholder's derivative action. Also, there was no allegation that the corporation had authorized him to bring such an action on its behalf or in his name. Further, there was no allegation the defendants, in any manner, obtained, possessed or used Simpson's personal information. Other than a conclusory statement, Simpson also did not make any allegation to indicate how the alleged fraud caused him damages. In other words, there was no basis to find that Simpson had standing to bring an action on behalf of Voiture 34 or that he personally suffered any injury capable of redress for identity fraud. Thus, we conclude the trial court did not err in rendering judgment against Simpson on this claim.

{¶ 13} We next address the claim of defamation. "Defamation is a false publication causing injury to a person's reputation, or exposing the person to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame or disgrace or affecting him adversely in his trade or business." Harsh v. Franklin, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 24331, 2011-Ohio-2428, ¶ 17, quoting Matalka v. Lagemann, 21 Ohio App.3d 134, 136, 486 N.E.2d 1220 (10th Dist.1985). "The essential elements of a defamation action * * * are that the defendant made a false statement of fact, that the false statement was defamatory, that the false defamatory statement was published, that the plaintiff was injured, and that the defendant acted with the required degree of fault." Id., citing ...

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