State ex rel. Cunningham v. Amer Cunningham Co., LPA, 01-1504.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam.
Citation762 NE 2d 1012,94 Ohio St.3d 323
Docket NumberNo. 01-1504.,01-1504.
Decision Date27 February 2002

94 Ohio St.3d 323
762 NE 2d 1012


No. 01-1504.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

Submitted January 8, 2002.

Decided February 27, 2002.

Brouse McDowell, Clair E. Dickinson and Jay E. Krasovec, for appellant.

94 Ohio St.3d 326
Amer Cunningham Co., L.P.A., Jack Morrison, Jr., and Thomas R. Houlihan, for appellee

Per Curiam.

According to appellant, attorney Richard T. Cunningham, in November 1971, he and attorneys Bernard J. Amer and David L. Brennan founded the law firm of Amer Cunningham Brennan Co., L.P.A., using their surnames in the firm name. In 2000, Brennan left the law firm, and the firm name was changed to Amer Cunningham Co., L.P.A. ("Amer Cunningham"), appellee.

In March 2001, Cunningham left Amer Cunningham and joined the Brouse McDowell law firm. Cunningham requested Amer Cunningham to remove "Cunningham" from its name, but the firm refused.

In May 2001, Cunningham filed a complaint in the Court of Appeals for Summit County for a writ of mandamus to compel Amer Cunningham to promptly remove "Cunningham" from its name. Cunningham alleged that the law firm was violating Gov.Bar R. III(2)1 by continuing to use his surname in the firm name. After Amer Cunningham filed a motion to dismiss, Cunningham filed a reply in which he asserted that through his mandamus action, he sought "to protect his legal rights in his surname from being appropriated and exploited by [Amer Cunningham] for its own gain."

In August 2001, the court of appeals granted Amer Cunningham's motion and dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals concluded that dismissal was appropriate because, among other reasons, Cunningham has adequate remedies at law by way of a tort action for an invasion of privacy or an action for

94 Ohio St.3d 324
declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. The court of appeals also construed Cunningham's request "as one seeking to enjoin [Amer Cunningham] from continuing to engage in the use of the disputed name."

This cause is now before the court upon Cunningham's appeal as of right.

Cunningham asserts that the court of appeals erred in granting Amer Cunningham's motion and dismissing his complaint for a writ of mandamus. Dismissal of Cunningham's complaint was appropriate if, after all factual allegations of the complaint were presumed true and all reasonable inferences were made in his favor, it appeared beyond doubt that Cunningham could prove no set of facts warranting the requested extraordinary relief. State ex rel. Suburban Constr. Co. v. Skok (1999), 85 Ohio St.3d 645, 646, 710 N.E.2d 710, 711.

For the following reasons, Cunningham's complaint was properly dismissed. "`[I]f the allegations of a complaint for a writ of mandamus indicate that the real objects sought are a declaratory judgment and a prohibitory injunction, the complaint does not state a cause of action in mandamus and must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.'" State ex rel. Phillips v. Lorain Cty. Bd. of Elections (2001), 93 Ohio St.3d 535, 537, 757 N.E.2d 319, 321-322, quoting State ex rel....

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