Stalker v. Indus. Comm., 031104 OHCA10, 03AP788

Docket Nº03AP788, 04-LW-0887 (10th)
Opinion JudgeBRYANT, J.
Party NameChristopher Stalker, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Industrial Commission Of Ohio Et Al., Defendants-Appellees.
AttorneyClements, Mahin & Cohen, LLP, and Lane N. Cohen, for appellant. Jim Petro, Attorney General, and Gerald H. Waterman, for appellees Industrial Commission of Ohio and Administrator, Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Markovits & Greiwe Co., L.P.A., and W.B. Markovits, for appellee Humbert Markets, Inc.
Case DateMarch 11, 2004
CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)

2004-Ohio-1144

Christopher Stalker, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Industrial Commission Of Ohio Et Al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 03AP788, 04-LW-0887 (10th)

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

March 11, 2004

(C.P.C. No. 99CVH-10-8750)

Clements, Mahin & Cohen, LLP, and Lane N. Cohen, for appellant. Jim Petro, Attorney General, and Gerald H. Waterman, for appellees Industrial Commission of Ohio and Administrator, Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Markovits & Greiwe Co., L.P.A., and W.B. Markovits, for appellee Humbert Markets, Inc. APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. OPINION

BRYANT, J.

{¶1}Plaintiff-appellant, Christopher Stalker, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas granting summary judgment to defendants-appellees, Industrial Commission of Ohio and Administrator, Bureau of Workers' Compensation, on plaintiff's complaint alleging that R.C. 4123.56 violates plaintiff's right to equal protection of law in specifying a cap on benefits based on the state-wide average weekly wage. While plaintiff does not set forth an assignment of error, he raises an issue, which we treat as an assignment of

Is the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas['] Decision and Entry Overruling Relator's Motion in Support of Declaratory Judgment a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of both the United States and Ohio Constitutions?

Because a rational basis supports the cap on benefits found in R.C. 4123.56, we affirm.

{¶2}On June 18, 1999, plaintiff filed a complaint in the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court challenging on equal protection grounds, the constitutionality of R.C. 4123.56 insofar as it provides a cap on disability benefits. Pursuant to defendants' motion for a change of venue, the matter was transferred to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

{¶3}On April 19, 2000, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, and at the same time responded to plaintiff's "Motion in Support of Declaratory Judgment." By decision and entry filed May 8, 2001, the trial court denied plaintiff's motion and granted summary judgment to defendants. In doing so, the court noted the parties agreed that plaintiff's equal protection claim was subject to analysis under the rational-basis test. Applying that test, the trial court determined "[d]efendants have identified a legitimate purpose for establishing a statutory maximum or 'wage cap' for the payment of compensation under R.C. 4123.56." (Decision, 7.) Specifically, the court cited the difficulty in setting premiums in the absence of a wage cap, as well as "the equally important goal of providing an incentive for workers to return to the workplace upon recovery * * *." (Decision, 8.) Concluding that the statutory maximum, or "wage cap," furthers the bureau's ability to set premiums and provides an incentive for injured workers to return to work, the trial court found plaintiff "failed to sustain his burden of proving that the 'wage cap' phrase contained within R.C. 4123.56 violates the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Ohio Constitutions." (Decision, 8-9.)

{¶4}On appeal, plaintiff challenges the trial court's determination, contending the provision at issue in R.C. 4123.56 violates plaintiff's right to equal protection under the Ohio and United States Constitutions.

{¶5}Our analysis...

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