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Case Law Summary - 2013: April - June


Negligence: Auto Accident

Profitt v. Tate

A motorist was injured when their vehicle overturned after hitting a patch of ice. The motorist sued a private water company (the defendant) for causing the ice accumulation. The defendant asked the court to dismiss the case through the process of summary judgment, and the lower court dismissed the case. The appellate court found that it was an error to grant summary judgment because the jury should have been allowed to hear the genuine issues of material fact in the case. Genuine issues of material fact existed pertaining to: whether the source of the water was from the water line break or the flushing hydrant opened by a water company employee; whether or not the water company breached its duty of ordinary care in sending only one employee to respond to the reported break; and whether the company took adequate measures to warn vehicles of the hazard.

Profitt v. Tate Monroe Water Assn. Inc., 2013 Ohio App. LEXIS 2205 (Ohio Ct. App. Clermont County)



Sovereign Immunity - Emergency Officers

Campbell v. Massucci

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle driven by a firefighter who was responding to an emergency situation, and the pedestrian filed suit against the firefighter. Typically, under Ohio sovereign immunity statutes, emergency officers responding to a situation have immunity from lawsuits, although there are a few exceptions. The court held in this case that while sovereign immunity statutes would apply because the firefighter was proceeding toward a place where a fire was in progress, an issue of fact existed as to whether the firefighter engaged in willful and wanton misconduct. Since willful and wanton misconduct would be an exception that would preclude the firefighter from claiming sovereign immunity, the case was allowed to proceed forward.

Campbell v. Massucci, 190 Ohio App.3d 718 (2010)


Thompson v. Smith

An officer responding to an emergency call was travelling at a speed above the posted limit when he struck and killed a pedestrian who was not in a crossing. The officer was not using flashing lights or sirens. He also admitted that he was required to obey traffic laws when he was not using emergency equipment. The estate of the pedestrian filed suit against the officer.

Generally, under Ohio sovereign immunity statutes, the police officer would be immune from liability, even if he was negligent, since he was responding to an emergency situation. However, the officer would not enjoy immunity if the officer had engaged in willful, wanton, or reckless conduct. In this case, since the jury in the lower court found that the officer had not been willful, wanton, or reckless, the court of appeals found that it was a moot point whether or not the officer was using his lights or sirens because the officer was still immune.

Thompson v. Smith, 2011-Ohio-1587 (11th Dist.)



Pets - Equine Immunity

Wemer v. Walker

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit to recover damages for injuries they suffered after being bitten by the defendant’s pony. A horse owner would normally be immune from liability arising from actions taken by their horse under Ohio’s Equine Activity Liability Act, O.R.C. 2305.321. But in this case the defendant waived the affirmative defense of immunity because he failed to raise it in a timely fashion. An affirmative defense cannot be raised for the first time in a motion for summary judgment.

Wemer v. Walker 2013 Ohio App. LEXIS 1887 (Ohio Ct. App. Knox County)

    ***These case summaries were adapted from the Ohio State Bar Association's official reports. All cases appear on the OSBA website at, as well as in the OSBA Report Online.***

Car & Truck Accidents: Auto, Truck, Bus, Motorcycle Accidents Bicycle/Racing
Premises Liability:
Slip & Fall
and Safety Claims
Death Claims
General Negligence
General Civil Litigation
Animal Claims
and Dog Bites
Contract Disputes
Mediation and