Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder’s Christina Vessels Admitted to Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel

Christina Vessels(Lexington, KY – April 28, 2016) – Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder (MRR) is pleased to announce that partner Christina L. Vessels (Chrissy) has been admitted as a member of the invitation-only Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC). Established in 1936, the FDCC is composed of recognized leaders in the legal community who have achieved professional distinction, and is dedicated to promoting knowledge, fellowship, and professionalism of its members as they pursue the course of a balanced justice system and represent those in need of a defense in civil lawsuits.

“Not only is Chrissy a skilled attorney, she is a remarkable person who commits her time and expertise to great local and national organizations like the FDCC,” said Joe Nicholas, MRR President and Managing Partner.

Ms. Vessels focuses her practice on insurance defense and coverage, professional liability defense, bad faith and extra contractual litigation, governmental liability, and appellate law. She represents a wide variety of clients including individuals, small businesses, and national corporations. She is AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale Hubbell Law Directory and also has been named a Kentucky Super Lawyer “Rising Star” since 2013.

In addition to her FDCC membership, Chrissy also belongs to the Defense Research Institute (DRI), where she serves on the Government & Municipal Liability Committee (Publications Chair and Women in the Law Liaison), and on the Insurance Law and Women in the Law Committees. Active in a number of professional organizations, she is a member of both the Kentucky Bar Association and Fayette County Bar Association, in addition to the Kentucky Defense Counsel. Chrissy earned her J.D. from The University of Kentucky College of Law, and her B.A. from Western Kentucky University.

 

MRR Article: Public Works Contract: Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Liquidated Damages for Delay

The Ohio Fourth Appellate District recently addressed the issue of liquidated damages provisions in the context of public works contracts.

In Boone Coleman Constr., Inc. v. Village of Piketon, 2016-Ohio-1557 (4th Dist.) Plaintiff, a construction project contractor, brought suit against an Ohio Village seeking additional payment for its work. The Village counterclaimed for contractual liquidated damages, claiming that Plaintiff had taken too long to complete the project, in violation of the parties’ contract.  The contract provided that time was of the essence and that all work on the project would be substantially completed within one hundred twenty (120) days following the date construction began. The contractual liquidated Damages for Delay provision indicated Plaintiff would pay the Village Seven Hundred Dollars ($700) per day, for each day following the completion date until the project was substantially completed.  The trial court ruled in favor of the Village and Plaintiff appealed.

The 4th District, in its original decision, (2014-Ohio-2377), reversed the trial court’s award of liquidated damages to the Village, ruling that the liquidated damages provision was unenforceable because it constituted a penalty. In so ruling, the District Court had relied upon the Ohio Supreme Court’s earlier decision in Samson Sales, Inc. v. Honeywell, Inc., 12 Ohio St.3d 27, 465 N.E.2d 392 (1984), through which was developed a three-part test relative to the enforceability of such liquidated damages provisions. In Samson, the Court held that liquidated damages provisions are valid and enforceable, and not an unenforceable penalty, provided:

  1. At the time of contracting, actual damages are uncertain as to amount and difficult to prove;
  2. The amount of liquidated damages is not manifestly unconscionable, unfair, or inequitable; and
  3. The contract demonstrates that it was the intention of the parties that liquidated damages in the amount stated would follow a breach.

The 4th District ruled that the liquidated damages provision at issue did not meet part two (2) of this test.  That is, the court determined that the amount of liquidated damages called for in the parties’ contract was manifestly unreasonable and inequitable, as the amount of liquidated damages was over one third the total contract price.

The Ohio Supreme Court reversed (2016-Ohio-628), expressly extending its previous precedent relative to such liquidated damages provisions relative to public works construction projects, further holding that the protection of the public interest is a proper consideration in determining the validity of a liquidated damages provision in such situations.

Specifically, the Court held it is improper to analyze whether a liquidated damages provision is conscionable or equitable based merely upon the total value of the contract, as opposed to the total amount of liquidated damages determined after the fact.  Rather, a proper analysis considers the fairness and conscionability of the per diem amount of damages in and of itself, agreed upon by the parties at the time the contract is entered. That is, an appellate court must analyze whether a liquidated damages provision is conscionable and equitable at the time the contract was executed rather than looking at the result of the damages with the benefit of hindsight, following a breach.

Ultimately, the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling appears positive for public entities.  As political subdivisions enter into public-works contracts, it is uniquely difficult to calculate damage to the public’s interest caused by breach of the agreement to provide public improvements in a timely manner.  Each delay adds to inconvenience, increased costs, and loss of use to the taxpaying public.  As such, and as the Ohio Supreme Court wisely recognized, liquidated damages provisions in public-works project contracts are necessary to foster timely completion of projects, thereby avoiding the loss of taxpayer dollars.

MRR Ohio Legislative Updates: April 8, 2016 – April 21, 2016

Notes from the House of Representatives:

  • H.B. 511 was introduced to establish family and medical leave insurance benefits to provide paid leave to allow an individual to address the individual’s own serious health condition, to care for a family member, or to bond with a new child and to exempt those benefits from personal income tax
  • H.B. 335 was passed upon third consideration to specify the jurisdiction of municipal and county courts over municipal traffic ordinances and to establish requirements governing fines, fees, or other charges for traffic violations and infractions imposed by a municipal corporation that does not have the authority to establish a mayor’s court
  • H.B. 518 was introduced to permit an elected officeholder of this state or a political subdivision of this state who holds a valid concealed handgun license to carry a concealed handgun in a government facility of Ohio or a political subdivision of Ohio
  • H.B. 520 was introduced to revise the law governing the state’s public retirement systems
  • Sub. H.B. 425 was passed upon third consideration regarding student religious expression in school districts and community schools
  • Sub. H.B. 113 was passed upon third consideration to require public schools to provide students with instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator and to require training for school district and community school employees in the use of an automated external defibrillator, was taken up for consideration the third time
  • H.B. 523 was introduced to authorize the use of marijuana for medical purposes and to establish the Medical Marijuana Control Program
  • H.B. 525 was introduced to require multi-line telephone systems to have a default configuration that permits users to directly initiate a call to 9-1-1 without dialing any additional digit or code
  • H.B. 528 was introduced to regulate the collection, use, and retention of certain information obtained from an applicant during the employee selection process
  • Sub. H.B. 413 was passed upon third consideration to add to the purposes for which a board of township trustees may go into executive session, to permit a township to charge for recycling services, to reduce the population threshold for a township to adopt a limited home rule form of government, to authorize a township to purchase, lease, or provide underwater rescue and recovery equipment for fire and rescue purposes, to authorize boards of township trustees to pay for group life insurance for any employee, to expand the cemetery purposes for which such boards may levy a tax or expend township funds, to make other changes to the township laws, to allow taxing units to use the proceeds of a fire, police, or emergency services tax levy to pay costs related to the service for which the tax is levied, to establish a lien for unpaid rates or charges for refuse collection or disposal services established by a municipal corporation, and to expand the public infrastructure improvements townships, municipal corporations, and counties may pay for using money from their public improvement tax increment equivalent funds
  • Sub. H.B. 173 was passed upon third consideration to authorize a county recorder or county veterans service office, with the approval of the board of county commissioners, to issue Ohio veterans identification cards
  • Sub. H.B. 277 was passed upon third consideration to authorize a county, township, or municipal corporation to impose a 9-1-1 system levy in only the portion of the subdivision that would be served by the 9-1-1 system

Notes from the Senate:

  • S.B. 307 was introduced to establish family and medical leave insurance benefits to provide paid leave to allow an individual to address the individual’s own serious health condition, to care for a family member, or to bond with a new child and to exempt those benefits from personal income tax
  • Sub. S.B. 204 was passed upon third consideration to make the suspension of an offender’s driver’s license for a violation of specified drug offenses discretionary rather than mandatory, except in specified circumstances; to authorize a court to terminate a driver’s license suspension imposed for specified drug offenses committed out-of-state; to generally authorize a court to terminate a previously imposed mandatory suspension for specified drug offenses; to provide for the suspension of an offender’s driver’s license for possessing nitrous oxide in a motor vehicle; and to make consistent the provisions of law governing the ability of a court to grant limited driving privileges
  • Sub. S.B. 27 was passed upon third consideration to provide that a firefighter who is disabled as a result of specified types of cancer is presumed for purposes of the laws governing workers’ compensation and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund to have incurred the cancer while performing official duties as a firefighter

For questions or more information on MRR’s Ohio Legislation Updates, contact:

Stacy V. Pollock  – MRR Columbus
Phone: 614.324.0163
Email: spollock@mrrlaw.com

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A “Stunning” Result? The Supreme Court Examines the Scope of the Second Amendment

By: Curtis M. Graham, Esq.

The United States Supreme Court recently had occasion to examine the reach of Second Amendment protection in the case of Caetano v. Massachusetts, which was decided on March 21, 2016. Specifically, the question posed to the Court was whether the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms” extends to private citizens’ possession of stun guns.

The facts of Caetano were largely undisputed. A woman who lived in Massachusetts (Caetano) began carrying a stun gun with her for self-defense against an abusive former boyfriend. The stun gun was found by law enforcement officers when Caetano gave them consent to search her purse after a shoplifting incident (the officers had identified Caetano as a potential accomplice to the shoplifting). She was eventually arrested for violating a Massachusetts state law banning citizens from possessing an electrical weapon. It was this statute the Supreme Court was asked to judge the validity of.

The lower court rejected Caetano’s constitutional argument, holding that a “stun gun is not the type of weapon that is eligible for Second Amendment protection” because stun guns (a) “were not in common use at the time of the Amendment’s enactment, (b) are not “readily adaptable to use in the military,” and (c) should be banned because of the “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.” Each of these contentions was rejected by the Supreme Court, and the Court unanimously found that Massachusetts erred in upholding its law prohibiting the possession of stun guns. Accordingly, Caetano’s conviction was vacated.

The Court clearly stated that the Second Amendment extends to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, “even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” Additionally, relevant precedent has rejected the argument that “only those weapons useful in warfare” are protected by the Second Amendment. It should be noted that the opinion in Caetano did not categorically declare bans on stun guns to be unconstitutional. Thus, what happens in the states still having statutory restrictions on citizen stun gun possession remains to be seen (this list includes New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and Rhode Island).


For questions or more information on “A “Stunning” Result? The Supreme Court Examines the Scope of the Second Amendment,” contact:


Curtis M. Graham  – MRR Lexington
Phone: 859.899.8516
Fax: 859.899.8498
Email: cgraham@mrrlaw.com

Use of Force on Non-Violent Resistors

One of the most difficult decisions a police officer must make is whether to use force on an individual.  That decision becomes even more difficult when an officer confronts an individual in the midst of a mental health emergency.  Consideration of the affected individual’s safety, and the safety of the rest of the public, must inform an officer’s response.  Admittedly, federal courts of appeal throughout the United States have largely failed to announce a cohesive rule that guides officers’ response to mental health emergencies.  A recent case decided by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Estate of Ronald A. Armstrong v. Village of Pinehurst, provides helpful guidance for officers regarding the appropriate use of force in response to mental health emergencies and non-violent resistors.

In Armstrong, Jinia Armstrong Lopez convinced her brother, Ronald A. Armstrong, to go to the hospital after he exhibited erratic behavior.  Mr. Armstrong suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  Shortly after his arrival, Armstrong left the hospital and walked in a nearby road with oncoming traffic.  Armstrong’s examining physician issued involuntary commitment papers and three police officers went to collect Armstrong.  As soon as the officers received notice that Armstrong’s commitment papers were finalized, they surrounded him.  Armstrong wrapped himself around a stop sign post and the officers could not remove him.  Just thirty seconds after telling Armstrong about his involuntary commitment, one of the officers was told to tase Armstrong.  The officer tased Armstrong five times in “drive stun mode,” which only increased his resistance to the officers’ demands that he let go and return to the hospital.  The officers ultimately pinned Armstrong to the ground, cuffed him, and shackled him.  Armstrong was unresponsive and stopped breathing.  He passed away shortly thereafter.

Armstrong’s estate brought suit against the Village of Pinehurst, the three officers tasked with returning Armstrong to the hospital, and the manufacturer of the taser.  The District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina determined that it was unlikely a constitutional violation occurred and the officers were entitled to qualified immunity and summary judgment.  On appeal, the Fourth Circuit determined that Armstrong’s “right not to be tased while offering stationary and non-violent resistance to a lawful seizure was not clearly established on April 23, 2011,” the date the officers apprehended Armstrong.  This determination was largely in response to case law from the Sixth Circuit that arguably supported the officers’ use of force.  The officers were entitled to qualified immunity even though the court determined they used excessive force.

In its decision, the Fourth Circuit set out “to clarify when taser use amounts to excessive force in, at least, some circumstances.”  Tasers are intended to cause pain and immobilize an arrestee.  Police officers should only use a taser when “confronted with an exigency that creates an immediate safety risk and that is reasonably likely to be cured by using the taser.”  The court’s decision made several important points:

  • An arrestee does not create an “immediate safety risk” when he or she resists officers and “physically prevent[s] an officer’s manipulation of his body.”
  • “Erratic behavior and mental illness do not necessarily create a safety risk.”
  • Officers have a diminished interest in using “potentially harmful force” when trying to stop a mentally ill individual from harming himself or herself.

While the court granted the officers in Armstrong qualified immunity, it determined that police officers use excessive force where they outnumber a mentally ill person and tase him when he is potentially a danger to himself while remaining stationary and engaging in non-violent resistance.  While the Fourth Circuit’s decision is not controlling in Ohio, officers within the Sixth Circuit should apply the rationale adopted by the Fourth Circuit to avoid potential violations of arrestees’ constitutional rights.  Officers should reserve the use of potentially harmful forces, like tasers, pepper spray, and batons for individuals who are actively dangerous and pose a threat to themselves, officers, and/or the public.  Use on a stationary and non-violent individual, even when he or she is arguably resisting, should be avoided as it risks violation of the individual’s constitutional rights.


 

MRR Article: Ohio Supreme Court Decides ‘What Constitutes a Medical Record in Personal Injury Suits’ in Griffith v. Aultman Hospital

Griffith v. Aultman Hospital, 2016-Ohio-1138

On March 23, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court published its Slip Opinion in Griffith v. Aultman Hospital, a Decision which will have significance relative to the production of medical records in personal injury suits. Specifically, the case rules on what constitutes a medical record under Ohio law, which impacts how hospitals and other health care providers will respond to requests for medical records in the future.

The Plaintiff was Gena’a Griffith, whose father, Howard, was admitted to defendant Aultman Hospital on May 2, 2012 for surgery. Following surgery, Mr. Griffith was transferred from intensive care to a step-down unit to continue his recovery. In the step-down unit, Mr. Howard somehow became disconnected from his cardiac monitor, central line, and chest tube. He suffered severe brain damage and ultimately passed away on May 8, 2012.

On July 24, 2012, Plaintiff requested a copy of Mr. Griffith’s complete medical record. The hospital provided only some documents in response. Plaintiff filed two other requests for medical records, but alleged that the records she received were not complete and she subsequently filed suit. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that the hospital had failed to produce any monitoring strips or nurse records from Mr. Griffith’s hospital stay. The hospital contended the rhythm strips did not meet the legal definition of medical records because the records were housed in a different location and the hospital was therefore not required to print them. Further, the hospital argued that the data produced from electronic monitoring equipment is not part of a patient’s medical record.

Before the Supreme Court of Ohio was the issue of what constitutes a “medical record” as the term is used in Ohio Revised Code Section 3701.74(A)(8). The Court reasoned that because the legislature did not specifically define “maintain” in R.C. 3701.74, the normal, common meaning would apply. The Court defined maintain as “to continue in possession of.”  The Court then held that contrary to the hospital’s assertion, the definition of “maintain does not depend on a managerial decision to keep or preserve the data in a discrete location or file.” The Court found that the physical location of patient data is not relevant in determining whether the data qualifies as a medical record. Instead the Court opined that the inquiry should focus on whether a healthcare provider made a decision to keep data that was generated in the process of the patient’s treatment and pertains to the patient’s medical history, diagnosis, prognosis, or medical condition.

With regard to whether the hospital met its burden in producing the entirety of Mr. Griffith’s medical records, the Court reasoned that if the rhythm strips were saved at the discretion of a physician before Mr. Griffith’s passing, the information would fall under the definition of “medical record” and would need to be produced. The Court ultimately remanded to the trial court on the factual issue of whether Mr. Griffith’s physicians recommended that the rhythm strips be saved in the course of treating Mr. Griffith.

Finally, the Court held that “the plain language of R.C. 3701.74 does not require a patient seeking a medical record [to] state a reason for doing so.” This holding overrules language from the lower court which limited the scope of R.C. 3701.74 to simply enabling a patient to obtain his file to find a second opinion or transfer to another medical provider. Rather, all that is required of a patient or patient’s representative is to submit a written request.

Overall, the Court’s conclusions in Griffith will place a greater burden on hospitals to maintain all medical records and be able to produce all such records upon request of a patient or patient’s representative. The practical effect of this decision from a defense attorney’s perspective is that it will become somewhat easier to obtain a full medical record in a personal injury case. Griffith dictates that hospitals provide all “data that was generated in the process of the patient’s treatment and pertains to the patient’s medical history, diagnosis, prognosis, or medical condition.” Defense attorneys, and their clients, will be able to not only obtain a full medical record, but will be able to do so without having to state a reason for their request.


 

MRR Article: Protecting Your Workplace (and You): Tips for Effective Workplace Harassment Investigations

By Neil S. Sarkar, Esq.

In a recent U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Case (which covers Ohio employers), an employer was found liable for sexual harassment for permitting male-on-male bottom slapping that the employer dismissed as mere “horseplay.” Unfortunately, it appears that when workplace harassment complaints were made, the employer’s investigation did not include taking any written statements from those interviewed, nor was a formal investigation report made. Worse still, no prior allegations of prior misconduct by the alleged harasser were investigated.  Flash forward: a workplace harassment lawsuit is filed. The employer tries to defend case on a theory that such conduct is “horseplay.” The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a $300,000 jury verdict in favor of the male employee bottom-slapped by his co-worker.  This victim of “male-on-male” sexual harassment sued his employer for letting it happen. The employer’s own internal investigation in this case is telling.

This case reads as a cautionary tale for what happens when internal investigations of workplace harassment complaints are mishandled.  When reading this, it is my hope you employers are all saying to yourselves “I don’t want to be in that employer’s situation.”

With this in mind, here are some key points for properly investigating such complaints. Employers must always be prepared to deal proactively with workplace harassment complaints in all forms. Having a soundly drafted policy against workplace harassment is necessary, but not enough. Employers must have properly trained supervisors always ready to address any harassment complaint, and promptly and thoroughly investigate all allegations of harassment (whatever form it takes).

Some key tips:

  1. Promptly and Thoroughly Investigate. Always promptly and thoroughly investigate all complaints of alleged harassment, however silly or small any may seem; indeed, the above recent case reaffirms that sexual harassment can occur even when the conduct is directed towards members of the same gender.  Don’t put off investigating complaints until the situation gets out of control.  Immediately meet with the complaining party and take him or her seriously.  Assure him or her that you will strive to keep the investigation confidential, but do not guarantee the utmost confidentiality.  You will likely need to share the investigation results, including specific allegations, with the alleged harasser.  Find out who was involved; what happened and where; and if other witnesses were present.  Also, ask the complaining party to put his or her complaint in writing and sign the statement, if appropriate.

Then, under appropriate circumstances, meet with the alleged harasser.  Ask him or her the same questions you do the complaining party.  Explain the nature of the complaint and your legal duty to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation.  Indicate you will strive to keep the investigation confidential but utmost confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.  Also make sure he or she understands that any retaliation against the complaining party and/or alleged victim and/or other witnesses will result in discipline, up to and including immediate termination of employment.

Then, in appropriate situations, meet with each additional witness as soon as possible.  If feasible, interview each of them thoroughly, obtain written statements for each of them to sign, and advise them all to keep the incident and investigation confidential.

Please note that appropriate circumstances may certainly warrant changing the order of those you interview.  For example, you may have previously found the alleged harasser to have committed harassment, or the harassing conduct may be largely undisputed or egregious.  In those situations, after interviewing the victim, then consider interviewing the witnesses, and then the alleged harasser.  That way, in such situations like those above, this approach arms you as the investigator with as much information as possible before you sit down with the alleged harasser, who may most likely be the one to try and cover up possible harassment.

  1. Keep the alleged Harasser Separate from the alleged victim. You should always be sensitive to separating the complaining party from the alleged harasser while the investigation remains ongoing.  Otherwise, you could be sued not only for letting additional harassment happen, but also for retaliation.  This is because any reports of alleged harassment are deemed “legally protected activity” and once the employer is aware of this, the employer must not take adverse employment action against the employee, including allowing him or her be subject to any further negative treatment or harassment by the alleged harasser.  Separating the alleged victim from the alleged harasser makes this a non-issue.  Yet, to be clear, the person to be separated should be the alleged harasser – not the alleged victim.
  1. Ensure the investigation is always fair and unbiased. That is, do not conduct your investigation with pre-conceived notions of what the outcome should be based on what you’re suspecting.  Instead, interview all involved parties, keep detailed notes, and ask open-ended questions (including being sufficiently persistent and probing when necessary, lest you as an employer risk an argument that you were on notice of the harassment problem yet failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough investigation to bring the potential harassment to light).  Also, always focus on what the witnesses to the incident actually personally saw or heard.  And, coming back the requirement of conducting a thorough investigation, remember that when asking questions during the course of your investigation, you may always go back and talk to witnesses a second or third time if you wish.
  1. Be Mindful of Body Language and Past Circumstances. In making credibility assessments as to whether harassment did, in fact, occur, keep in mind the body language of the witness, whether anyone has a motive to lie and whether the account can or cannot be verified with independent witnesses or other evidence.  Also, determine if the alleged harasser has a past history of harassment or similar misconduct.  Regrettably, the latter factor was overlooked by the employer in the above 6th Circuit case.
  1. Take Appropriate Action. If you determine that harassment occurred, then consider the appropriate discipline to administer; the main factor should usually focus on what corrective action is needed to restore the alleged victim’s right to a harassment-free workplace.  Other factors may include the severity of the harassment; and whether it is the harasser’s first offense.
  1. Remember Your Ongoing Duty to Maintain a Harassment-Free Workplace. Finally, and perhaps most important, always remember that you as an employer have a continuing legal duty to provide a harassment-free work environment to your employees.  Never disregard any complaint, no matter how busy you are or how trivial it may sound.
  1. A Special Note to Public Sector Employers: Public employers must take additional considerations into account when conducting investigations.  Ohio Revised Code Section 9.84 allows any person appearing as a witness before a public official, board, etc. to be represented by an attorney.  For investigations of a more serious nature, public employees are entitled to notice that they are being questioned in the course of an investigation.  Under an Ohio Supreme Court case, In re Matter of Civil Service Charges & Specs. Against Piper, 88 Ohio St.3d 308 (2000), employees are entitled to a Piper notice which notifies them when and where the interview will be and that they have a right to have union or legal representation present at the interview.

During the investigative interview, a public employee cannot refuse to answer a question honestly unless the employee believes that the answer will incriminate him or her.  Public employees have a right to not be forced to either incriminate themselves under the U.S. Constitution or lose their jobs by refusing to tell the truth to their public employer.  Employee can be offered a Garrity warning (Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967)), which guarantees that anything they say in the investigative interview cannot be used against him/her in any criminal proceeding.  It is imperative that any information learned in the investigation pursuant to a Garrity warning not be made available to law enforcement so as to taint law enforcement’s ability to pursue the matter criminally.

For more information on workplace investigations or for form copies of a Piper notice and/or Garrity warning, please contact Neil Sarkar at nsarkar@mrrlaw.com,  Tami Hannon at thannon@mrrlaw.com, or Stacy Pollock at spollock@mrrlaw.com.


For questions or more information on “Protecting Your Workplace (and You): Tips for Effective Workplace Harassment Investigations,” contact:

Neil S. Sarkar  – MRR Cleveland
Phone: 440.287.8292
Fax: 440.248.8861
Email: nsarkar@mrrlaw.com

MRR Ohio Legislation Updates: March 25, 2016 – April 7, 2016

Notes from the House of Representatives:

  • H.B. 495 was introduced to create the Perry County Municipal Court in New Lexington on January 1, 2017, to establish one full-time judgeship in that court, to provide for the nomination of the judge by petition only, to abolish the Perry County County Court on that date, to designate the Perry County Clerk of Courts as the clerk of the Perry County Municipal Court, and to provide for the election for the Perry County Municipal Court of one full-time judge in 2017
  • H.B. 498 was introduced to change the Ohio Revised Code with respect to the expulsion of a student from a school district, community school, or STEM school for communicating a threat of violence to occur on school grounds
  • H.B. 502 was introduced to modify the campaign finance law
  • H.B. 503 was introduced to reform agency rule-making and legislative review thereof
  • H.B. 504 was introduced to generally protect a private, nonprofit institution of higher education from liability for a breach of confidentiality or other claim that arises from the institution’s disclosure of public records
  • H.B. 506 was introduced to allow the Auditor of State to conduct full audits of JobsOhio, to require all nonprofit economic development corporations that receive public funds to make annual disclosures related to both their public and private funds, and to require that JobsOhio submit a quarterly progress report detailing all of its active projects
  • H.B. 509 was introduced to allow electors of a village to petition the board of elections, as an alternative to the legislative authority, for the dissolution of the village, to provide for the timely transfer of village property and services with the assistance of the Auditor of State, to require the Auditor of State to perform and complete an audit or agreed-upon procedures before transferring any cash balances to a township following a village dissolution, and to modify the deadline to file a county charter petition with the board of county commissioners
  • H.B. 510 was introduced to modify workers’ compensation benefit amounts for occupational pneumoconiosis claims and to create the Occupational Pneumoconiosis Board to determine medical findings for such claims.

Notes from the Senate:

  • S.B. 299 was introduced to establish one full-time judgeship in that court, to provide for the nomination of the judge by petition only, to abolish the Perry County County Court on that date, to designate the Perry County Clerk of Courts as the clerk of the Perry County Municipal Court, and to provide for the election for the Perry County Municipal Court of one full-time judge in 2017

For questions or more information on MRR’s Ohio Legislation Updates, contact:

Stacy V. Pollock  – MRR Columbus
Phone: 614.324.0163
Email: spollock@mrrlaw.com

Stacy Pollock 8860

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Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Appoints Doug Holthus as Columbus Administrative Partner

Doug Holthus(Cleveland, OH – Friday, April 1, 2016) — Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., LPA (MRR) is pleased to announce the appointment of Doug Holthus as administrative partner of the law firm’s Columbus office, effective April 1, 2016.

“We are fortunate to have a lawyer with Doug’s skills and capabilities take on this role and we are confident that he will maximize our firm’s opportunities for continued growth and success in Central Ohio,” said Joe Nicholas, the firm’s President and Managing Partner.

Doug focuses his practice on civil rights and government liability, corporate law, employment and general liability matters. He counsels small and large companies, public and private entities on legislative and administrative matters in a diverse range of industries including health care, information technology, telecommunications, real estate, retail, and education. He has tried, advocated and or arbitrated nearly one hundred cases before civil juries, administrative licensing (and other) boards and arbitration panels throughout Ohio (and California), in both state and federal court.

Prior to joining MRR, Doug was in private practice and had also served as General Counsel for Kokosing Construction Company and its affiliated entities.

A graduate of Wittenberg University, Mr. Holthus went on to earn his J.D. from Capital University Law School. He serves as Chair of the Columbus Bar Association’s Professionalism Committee (by appointment), is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Professional Liability Defense Federation (“PLDF”) and the Ohio State Bar Association, and Doug is AV-Preeminent rated by the Martindale Hubbell Law Directory.