Tort Reform Applies To Claims Under Ohio Civil Rights Act

by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

On July 3, 2012, the Ohio Supreme Court directed the Eighth District Court of Appeals to apply the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling in Havel v. Villa St. Joseph, 131 Ohio St.3d 235 (2012) that, upon motion of a party, Ohio Revised Code § 2315.21(B) requires a trial court to bifurcate claims for compensatory and punitive damages, to a retaliation claim asserted under Ohio Revised Code § 4112. See Luri v. Republic Servs., Inc., et al., Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-2914. While this ruling may appear rather inconsequential at first blush, it suggests that the Ohio Supreme Court has now, at least implicitly, sanctioned the application of Ohio’s tort reform, specifically Ohio Revised Code § 2315.21, including its cap on punitive damages, to claims brought under the Ohio Civil Rights Act.
The Ohio Supreme Court’s July 3, 2012 ruling arose from an appeal from the Eighth District Court of Appeals’ decision in Luri v. Republic Servs., Inc., et al., 8th Dist. No. 94908, 2011-Ohio-2389 (May 19, 2011), in which the Eighth District Court of Appeals became the first appellate court in Ohio to apply Ohio’s tort reform to claims under the Ohio Civil Rights Act. Specifically, the Eighth District Court of Appeals held that Ohio Revised Code § 2315.21(D)’s punitive damages cap applies to claims brought under the Ohio Civil Rights Act. The Eighth District Court of Appeals held that, because the punitive damages cap applied, the trial court was required to limit any punitive damages to only two times the compensatory damages award of $3.5 million, and reversed the jury’s verdict of $43.1 million in punitive damages. The Eighth District Court of Appeals also held that a trial court retains discretion to decide whether to bifurcate compensatory and punitive damages claims even though Ohio Revised Code § 2315.21(B) provides that bifurcation is mandatory upon proper motion. The court also ruled that because Luri had alleged a single-employer theory of liability, he could recover only a total of $7 million in punitive damages from all of the defendants combined, and he was not entitled to have defendants’ punitive damages awards reviewed independently for application of the punitive damages cap.

Luri appealed the “single recovery” issue to the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that “reviewing courts must consider each defendant’s punitive damage[s] award independently for the application of ‘caps’ under [§] 2315.21(D).” Republic Services, Inc., et al. cross-appealed, advancing several propositions of law, but the only proposition of law accepted by the Ohio Supreme Court was whether Ohio Revised Code § 2315.21(B), which mandates bifurcation of compensatory and punitive damages claims upon a party’s motion, is constitutional and creates a substantive right to bifurcation. While these two issues were both before the Ohio Supreme Court on appeal, the court never addressed whether courts may require collective assessment of a punitive damages award against all defendants where a single-employer theory is advanced. The court concluded that the “single recovery” issue was moot. However, the court addressed the bifurcation issue, reversing the Eighth District Court of Appeals’ ruling that courts retain discretion to decide whether to bifurcate compensatory and punitive damages claims, in light of the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling in Havel, which held, in a medical malpractice case, that § 2315.21(B) is constitutional and creates a substantive right to bifurcation upon a proper motion. The Ohio Supreme Court remanded the case and directed the Eighth District Court of Appeals to apply Havel.
Although it is likely that the Luri case will have a number of additional twists and turns, with respect to application of Ohio's tort reform to claims brought under the Ohio Civil Rights Act, we are hopeful for a smooth and consistent ride moving forward.

Additional Information

If you have questions regarding this ruling, contact the Ogletree Deakins attorney with whom you normally work or the Client Services Department at or 866-287-2576.

Note: This article was published in the July 6, 2012 issue of the Ohio eAuthority.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.