MRR Continues Growth in Columbus with Addition of Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas

Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Assumes Of Counsel Role in Firm’s Columbus Office

Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., LPA is pleased to announce that Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas has joined the firm’s Columbus office as Of Counsel in the Public Sector & Business Law Groups. Douglas joins MRR to lend his extensive knowledge of the public and private sector landscape in Ohio, along with his depth and breadth of experience as an Ohio Supreme Court Justice, having served three terms on the high court from 1985 to 2002.

Joseph F. Nicholas, Jr., MRR President and Managing Partner said of Justice Douglas’ addition to the team, “Andy is very well known and highly respected for his deep and far-reaching understanding of the many types of issues faced by our public sector and business clients. We are honored to have him on board and look forward to be able to call on his knowledge and experience that will surely benefit our clients.”

His many accomplishments include serving as special counsel to the Attorney General of Ohio, nine-time elected Toledo City Councilman, as well as working as an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio Dominican College and the University of Toledo Community and Technical Colleges. Justice Douglas served in the U.S. Army Infantry and Signal Corps, from 1954-1956, where he obtained the rank of first lieutenant. He also was a partner with the law firm of Winchester & Douglas in 1960 where he practiced law in Toledo and Lucas County for 20 years, before being elected to the 6th District Court of Appeals in 1980.

Since 2009, Douglas has focused his practice on Complex Litigation, Business Law, and Public Sector Law.

He is a member of the Ohio State, Columbus, Lucas County, and Toledo Bar Associations, in addition to the American Judicature Society, National Political Honor Society, The North Toledo Oldtimers’ Football Association (Trustee), and The Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association. Douglas earned his law degree from The University of Toledo – College of Law.

Over the course of his three terms on the Ohio Supreme Court, Justice Douglas published more than 900 judicial opinions, and he was regarded by many of his colleagues in the legal profession as one of the most intelligent and best-prepared members of the high court during his service.

“His unique understanding of federal government and judiciary procedures along with his reputation within the State and Columbus area are strong assets for our firm,” said Doug Holthus, MRR’s Columbus Office Administrative Partner. “We are thrilled to have him on our team.”

Larry Stelzer joins MRR’s Columbus Office

MRR is pleased to announce that Lawrence J. Stelzer, Jr. (Larry) has joined the firm’s Columbus office, where he will focus his practice on Business & Commercial Law, Employment & Labor, and General Liability defense. Mr. Stelzer has extensive experience providing counsel on legal matters relating to civil litigation, business, insurance, employee benefits, and government affairs.

Prior to joining MRR, Larry served as the Vice President of Legal Affairs for InHealth Mutual; general counsel for Simplifi ESO, LLC; and general counsel for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.

Doug Holthus: FMLA Leave Must Run Concurrently With Other Forms of Paid Leave

Doug’s article was recently featured in Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys (OACTA’s) 2019 Spring Quarterly Review :

U.S. Department of Labor: Opinion Letter / March 18, 2019: FMLA Leave Must Run Concurrently With Other Forms of Paid Leave.

Ah, the halcyon days of youth:

“I’m just a bill; yes, I’m only a bill, and if they vote for me on Capitol Hill, well then I’m off to the White House where I’ll wait in a line with a lot of other bills for the president to sign; and if he signs me, then I’ll be a law. How I hope and pray that he will, but today I am still just a bill.”

However, with the benefit of twelve years of primary education, four years of undergraduate studies (unless you were one of those fortunate few who permitted themselves a “Victory Lap”), six semesters of law school, a tedious, three day exam and so many years of practice, we realize the lyricist may have missed at least one additional stanza … unless, of course, that stanza was sacrificed as a compromise during Committee hearings:

“I’m now a law, yes I’m finally a law, and I thought I held the power of voice. But no one cared to tell me I’d be subject to interpretation and caprice and now there’s a letter from the Department Secretary; and if he decides what it is I’m really s’posed to mean then the winds of change may carry my voice away” …

Click here to enjoy the full article – Holthus ~ OACTA 2019 Spring Quarterly Review

MRR’s June 2019 Employment Law Bulletin: Are Your Websites ADA Compliant?

Check out MRR’s June 2019 Employment Law Bulletin, including:

  • Are Your Websites ADA Compliant?
  • Understanding Volunteers
  • Start Gathering Your EEO-1 Component 2 Data!
  • New MRR Attorney – Cynthia Sands spotlight

Ohio Adds New Exceptions to the Definition of “Public Records” Relating to Dash-Cam and Body-Cam Recordings

By: Ami Imbrogno

In this day and age, it seems that not a week goes by without turning on the evening news, logging onto Facebook, or firing up a YouTube application and seeing videos depicting police encounters with civilians.  Many of these videos are recorded on private cell phones and released by private citizens; however, some of these videos have been obtained by individuals, news sources, or other entities via public record request, the laws surrounding which are changing.

On January 7, 2019 Governor Kasich signed into law HB 425, “Declare police body camera recordings not to be public records,” to be effective April 8, 2019.  The law does not declare that all dash-cam and body-cam recordings are not public record, but instead declares that “restricted portions” of the recordings are not included in the definition of public record.  The law defines “restricted portions as the following:

  • The image or identity of a child or information that could lead to the identification of a child who is a primary subject of the recording when the law enforcement agency knows or has reason to know the person is a child based on the law enforcement agency’s records or the content of the recording;
  • The death of a person or a deceased person’s body, unless the death was caused by a peace officer or the consent of the decedent’s executor or administrator has been obtained;
  • The death of a peace officer, firefighter, paramedic, or other first responder, occurring while the decedent was engaged in the performance of official duties, unless consent of the decedent’s executor or administrator has been obtained;
  • Grievous bodily harm, unless the injury was effected by a peace officer or the consent of the injured person or the injured person’s guardian has been obtained;
  • An act of severe violence against a person that results in serious physical harm to the person, unless the act and injury was effected by a peace officer or the consent of the injured person or the injured person’s guardian has been obtained;
  • Grievous bodily harm to a peace officer, firefighter, paramedic, or other first responder, occurring while the injured person was engaged in the performance of official duties, unless the consent of the injured person or the injured person’s guardian has been obtained;
  • An act of severe violence resulting in serious physical harm against a peace officer, firefighter, paramedic, or other first responder, occurring while the injured person was engaged in the performance of official duties, unless the consent of the injured person or the injured person’s guardian has been obtained;
  • A person’s nude body, unless the person’s consent has been obtained;
  • Protected health information, the identity of a person in a health care facility who is not the subject of a law enforcement encounter, or any other information in a health care facility that could identify a person who is not the subject of a law enforcement encounter;
  • Information that could identify the alleged victim of a sex offense, menacing by stalking, or domestic violence;
  • Information, that does not constitute a confidential law enforcement investigatory record, that could identify a person who provides sensitive or confidential information to a law enforcement agency when the disclosure of the person’s identity or the information provided could reasonably be expected to threaten or endanger the safety or property of the person or another person;
  • Personal information of a person who is not arrested, cited, charged, or issued a written warning by a peace officer;
  • Proprietary police contingency plans or tactics that are intended to prevent crime and maintain public order and safety;
  • A personal conversation unrelated to work between peace officers or between a peace officer and an employee of a law enforcement agency;
  • A conversation between a peace officer and a member of the public that does not concern law enforcement activities;
  • The interior of a residence, unless the interior of a residence is the location of an adversarial encounter with, or a use of force by, a peace officer; and,
  • Any portion of the interior of a private business that is not open to the public, unless an adversarial encounter with, or a use of force by, a peace officer occurs in that location.

Those exceptions that allow disclosure upon receipt of consent of the subject may only be released with the consent if one of the following apply:

  • The recording will not be used in connection with probable or pending criminal proceedings; or,
  • The recording was used in connection with a criminal proceeding that has been dismissed or for which a judgment has been issued, and will not be used again in connection with any probable or pending criminal proceedings.

 The law also provides that if a public office denies a request to release a restricted portion of a recording, the requestor may file a complaint for mandamus with the court of claims, which will allow the release if it determines by clear and convincing evidence that public interest substantially outweighs privacy interests and other interests asserted to deny release.

Many of these components of the definition fall within other exceptions to public records and government entities are probably already withholding or redacting recordings that contain those components, such as confidential law enforcement investigatory records or information pertaining to the recreational activities of a person under the age of eighteen. However, government employees who handle the release and redaction of records should familiarize themselves with the new definition and continue to follow all other laws relating to public records.  For example, records should be redacted where possible and only fully withheld if redaction would create a substantial burden or would remove all value from the recording.

Government entities should also review their records retention schedules to make certain it addresses this type of footage.  They should remember that even if these materials are no longer public record, they could be relevant to future litigation.

Finally, the new law does not make it clear what procedures are required to be followed in obtaining “consent” to release records; it does not prescribe what lengths the government entity needs to go to in order to obtain consent or in which form the consent must be.  Those who obtain consent to release records should in the minimum ensure that consent is given knowingly and in writing.


For more information on this matter or any other civil rights and government liability questions, contact Ami at aimbrogno@mrrlaw.com or 440.505.2713.

Ami is an Attorney in MRR’s Cleveland office and focuses her practice on civil rights and government liability defense, employment and labor defense, public sector law, and education law.

 

George Pilat Of Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Elected To Chair The Solon Chamber Of Commerce Board Of Directors For 2019

Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., LPA (MRR) is proud to announce that attorney George V. Pilat has been elected Chair of the Solon Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Voting took place in December with officers beginning their term on January 1, 2019. The Solon Chamber serves as advocates for the business community by supporting and fostering vibrant economic growth. George has been a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors since 2015, a Vice Chair since 2017, and has served on the Membership, Finance, and Governance Committees.

Mr. Pilat, a Partner at the firm’s Cleveland office, focuses his practice on business and commercial law, and insurance defense. He is Chair of the firm’s Business & Commercial Law Practice Group and Co-Chair of the Insurance Agents & Brokers Practice Group. He represents small and medium-size businesses and business owners as well as national and regional insurance companies, agencies, and agents, in all forms of transactional and litigation matters. George has also been selected as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for 2018 and 2019 in the field of insurance law.

For over 30 years George has built up his role as the “Legal Business Advisor” to all his clients, helping them to properly structure their organizations and operations, identify and address risks and challenges they face, provide sound counsel advice, and develop and implement cost-effective solutions to run their organizations better.

In addition to his service with the Solon Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Pilat is also a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Great Lakes Funding Network, and the Insurance Board of Northern Ohio (IBNO). George was also presented the “Friend of the Insurance Industry” award by the IBNO in 2013.