Woods v. Sharkin, 110567

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Writing for the CourtKATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, J.
Citation192 N.E.3d 1174
Parties Doug WOODS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Brian W. SHARKIN, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Docket Number110567
Decision Date09 June 2022

192 N.E.3d 1174

Doug WOODS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Brian W. SHARKIN, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 110567

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga County.


Doug Woods, pro se.

Gallagher & Sharp, LLP, Timothy T. Brick, and Maia E. Jerin, Cleveland, for appellee Brian W. Sharkin.

Baker & Hostetler, LLP, Michael K. Farrell, Cleveland, and Daniel M. Kavoras, for appellees Scripps Media, Inc., d.b.a. WEWS-TV, the E.W. Scripps Company, and Joe Pagonakis.




192 N.E.3d 1182

{¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Doug Woods ("Woods"), appeals the trial court's decision dismissing his complaint. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

{¶ 2} On September 4, 2019, Woods filed a civil complaint against 22 named defendants raising 17 causes of action. In his complaint and the attached incorporated documents, he asserted the following facts and allegations.

{¶ 3} Woods owns several single-family residential properties in the greater Cleveland area under the business name "What a Lovely Home." At times, he has filed evictions proceedings, some of which resulted in money judgments against his tenants. Specific to this case, Woods was granted separate evictions and/or civil judgments in the Garfield Heights Municipal Court against former tenants Monique Willis ("Willis"), Erin Webb ("Webb"), Arliea Marshall a.k.a. McBryde ("Marshall"), Latanya Tyes ("Tyes"), Lashawn Deener ("Deener"), Dominque Jeter ("Jeter"), Jacqueline Johnson ("Johnson"), Mary Lamar ("Lamar"), and Andromeda Hicks ("Hicks") (collectively "former tenants").

{¶ 4} Woods alleged that because of the eviction proceedings, Johnson conspired with Martin Greer ("Greer"), who damaged his property and intimidated and threatened him regarding the return of Johnson's security deposit. He further alleged that Greer caused damage to a vehicle. Woods alleged that these actions occurred from September 2017 until November 2018.

{¶ 5} Woods alleged that in February 2018, Tyes caused property damage to one of his homes in Maple Heights. As a result, Woods obtained an eviction and money judgment against her for the damage and for a bad check that she issued. According to Woods, Tyes retaliated against him for the eviction by conspiring with an unknown male (referred to in the complaint as "Unknown Father of Children of Latanya Tyes" or "UFC") to intimidate him by threatening him with physical harm. Woods further alleged that UFC caused damage to a vehicle.

{¶ 6} In July 2017, Woods commenced eviction proceedings against Willis, who hired attorney Brian W. Sharkin ("Sharkin") to represent her.2 Woods alleged that Willis and Sharkin made defamatory statements about him insinuating that he was engaging in unlawful business practices. Woods alleged that Sharkin gathered the former tenants and contacted Joe Pagonakis ("Pagonakis"), a reporter with News Channel 5, to create and broadcast a story to further this "campaign of harassment."

{¶ 7} On September 5, 2018, News Channel 5 broadcast and published a news story (hereinafter "news report") regarding the rise in eviction proceedings in

192 N.E.3d 1183

Cuyahoga County. Pagonakis reported the story and interviewed Webb, Tyes, and Marshall regarding their experiences during the eviction process, and offering advice to future tenants. During the interview, Pagonakis stated that the three women rented the same Maple Heights home from Woods, who subsequently evicted them from the home. Pagonakis also interviewed Garfield Heights Municipal Court Judge Deborah Nicastro, who opined that tenants lack education on their rights and responsibilities when entering into lease contracts. Pagonakis also interviewed Woods, who explained the difficulties in being a landlord, especially when tenants do not abide by the terms of their lease — including not paying rent and the water bill — and allowing unauthorized individuals and pets to live in the homes. Woods alleged in his complaint that this news story contained false and inflammatory statements that placed him in a false light. Woods attached to his complaint and incorporated by reference a printout of the news story subsequently posted on September 6, 2018, by Pagonakis on the News Channel 5 website, as well as a "transcribed" version of the televised news story.3

{¶ 8} Woods alleged that following this news story, Webb, Marshall, Tyes, Deener, and Lamar colluded and conspired through the social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter to gather current and former tenants of Woods in an effort to intentionally and maliciously defame him. This effort, according to Woods, included placing flyers titled "Public Service Announcement" on Woods's rental properties and on parked cars in the vicinity. According to Woods, the flyers identified him and his business and contained the following statements: "[u]nfair and horrible landlords who evict people for no reason" and "[i]nstead of doing business with them, you should view them the same way you do pedophiles, drug dealers, slumlords, baby killers, or someone with a contagious disease. Stay away from them and do not rent from them!!! #Slumlords, #Whatauglyhome, #Followus."

{¶ 9} Woods further alleged that in October and November 2018, Sharkin and Willis orchestrated additional social media attacks through the use of Twitter accounts for the purposes of intentionally and maliciously defaming his character and reputation. Woods alleged that the Twitter posts were made by the former tenants and discussed their "great job" on the Public Service Announcement and sought to "come up with some other things to say" about Woods's rental properties. The responses included that Woods is a "crook," "thief," "lowlife corrupt criminal with shady business practices," Woods's houses have "rats and roaches," "black mold," "bed bugs," and "will burn down from bad electrical." In support of his allegations, Woods attached to his complaint and incorporated by reference a printout of various Twitter feeds and conversations making allegations about Woods and his rental properties, which, according to Woods, were untrue.

{¶ 10} Woods alleged that John Clos ("Clos") also made defamatory statements about one of his rental properties when he told one of Woods's tenants that when Woods purchased the home in which she

192 N.E.3d 1184

was living, the home contained mold. According to Woods, Clos told the tenant that instead of remediating the mold, Woods hired "thugs to install a new roof on the house to cover it up." He alleged that these statements caused the tenant to request a Section 8 inspection and "notify [him] of her need to break the lease." According to Woods, the inspection did not reveal any mold issues.

{¶ 11} Woods alleged that from February 2018 until June 2018, Webb made unwelcome demands "that [Woods] engage in intimate conduct where submission to the request or demand, either implicitly or explicitly, was made a condition related to her ongoing rental of the" property. He alleged that her conduct created a "sexually harassing housing environment," in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

{¶ 12} In April 2019, Woods initiated garnishment proceedings against Webb. He alleged that during this proceeding, Webb accused him of engaging in fraudulent activity, insinuated that they had a sexual and romantic relationship, and verbally called Woods "the devil" in the Garfield Heights Municipal Courthouse.

{¶ 13} According to Woods, Webb subsequently published false and inflammatory statements about him with the Better Business Bureau. He alleged that Webb published these reviews under her own name, but also under the fictitious names of "Domioneice Espay" and "Amber Boulevardez." In support, he attached to his complaint and incorporated by reference a printout of the reviews found on the Better Business Bureau regarding Woods and What a Lovely Home.

{¶ 14} Woods further alleged that based on the conduct of all of the defendants, RC Investments and David Paisley ("Paisley") rescinded or breached contracts for the purchase of real and personal property. He alleged that he suffered monetary damages for the amounts he expended in accordance with the terms of the contracts. Specifically, he averred that he made improvements and repairs to the real property. In support of these allegations, he attached to his complaint and incorporated by reference the contracts he entered into with RC Investments and Paisley.

{¶ 15} Woods alleged in his complaint that the aforementioned conduct by all defendants caused him significant physical, emotional, psychological, and financial harm, interfered with current and prospective business relationships, and infringed on his constitutional and statutory rights. He requested monetary relief from the defendants, jointly and severally, a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief, and any other relief the court deemed necessary.

{¶ 16} On September 24, 2019, Clos filed an answer denying the allegations and setting forth various affirmative defenses. On February 4, 2020, he moved...

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    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • May 19, 2023
    ...seems to reject Dr. Carr's legal position: "Ohio does not recognize defamation by implication," Woods v. Sharkin, 2022-Ohio-1949, 192 N.E.3d 1174, ¶ 52 (8th Dist); Krems v. Univ. Hosps. of Cleveland, 133 Ohio App.3d 6, 12, 726 N.E.2d 1016 (8th Dist.1999), at least independent of a defamatio......
  • Weiler v. DLR Grp., 112091
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    ...breach, or terminate a business relationship; (4) a lack of privilege; and (5) resulting damages." Woods v. Sharkin, 2022-Ohio-1949, 192 N.E.3d 1174, ¶ 9o (8th Dist.). Any claim for tortious interference requires allegations of an improper act or conduct. Id., citing Syed v. Poulos, 8th Dis......

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