Articles Posted in Ohio Supreme Court

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In this appeal, the Supreme Court resolved a conflict between decisions of the Ninth District Court of Appeals and the Second District Court of Appeals concerning the effect of an individual retirement account custodian's filing of an interpleader action against competing claimants. The Court held that when the custodian of an individual retirement account filed an interpleader action against the parties claiming to be the beneficiaries of the account, the custodian waives its contractual change-of-beneficiary procedures, and a person who proves that the owner of the account clearly intended to designate him or her as the beneficiary does not also need to prove that the owner substantially complied with the change-of-beneficiary procedures in order to recover. Instead, the account owner's clearly expressed intent controls. Because this holding rejected the analysis adopted by the Second District Court of Appeals in this case and because there existed a genuine issue of fact as to the intent of the account owner, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' judgment and remanded to the common pleas court for trial. View "LeBlanc v. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC" on Justia Law

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This matter arose out of a controversy over a phrase in a trust. The language at issue established the calculation of the price of trust property offered for sale to certain trust beneficiaries. One of the trust beneficiaries filed a complaint for declaratory judgment, seeking judicial interpretation of the disputed provision. The trial court concluded that the disputed phrase was unambiguous and that the option price was the fair market value as determined by the appraisal. The court of appeals reversed after reviewing the trust document de novo, finding that the option language was susceptible to more than one interpretation and that the option price was the federal and/or Ohio qualified-use value. At issue on appeal was what standard of review an appellate court should employ in reviewing legal issues in a declaratory-judgment action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the de novo standard of review is the proper standard for appellate review of purely legal issues that must be resolved after the trial court has decided that a complaint for declaratory judgment presents a justiciable question. View "Arnott v. Arnott" on Justia Law

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Lisa Mullins, the widow and administrator of the estate of Charles Mullins, filed a complaint against Appellants, a doctor and a medical facility, alleging negligence in the treatment of Charles that resulted in his death. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the estate. The court of appeals remanded the matter, finding that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to instruct the jury on Lisa's alleged contributory negligence and denying Appellants' motion for a new trial. On remand, Lisa filed a complaint in the court of appeals for a writ of prohibition to prevent the judge sitting in the court of common pleas from retrying the issue of the medical negligence of Appellants at a second jury trial. The court of appeals granted the writ to prevent the judge from retrying the negligence issue in the case against Appellants. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and denied the writ, holding that the court erred in determining that a retrial of the negligence claim against Appellants patently and unambiguously violated the court's mandate in the prior appeal. View "State ex rel. Mullins v. Court of Common Pleas (Curran)" on Justia Law

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In the civil case underlying this appeal, John Poss filed a motion for an order that Marilyn Morris transfer to him property that was the subject of a constructive trust. Before the court ruled on Poss's motion, Morris transferred the property to Skyway Investment Corporation. Poss then filed a motion to appoint a receiver to take possession of the property and to appoint a person to execute the conveyance of the property. The court of common pleas granted the motion. Skyway, which had been joined as a party defendant in the proceeding by the common pleas court, subsequently filed a petition for a writ of prohibition to prevent Appellee, the county court of common pleas, from proceeding to place the property in receivership and a writ of mandamus to compel the court to vacate its orders concerning the property. The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the common pleas court did not patently and unambiguously lack jurisdiction to appoint a receiver and a person to effect the conveyance of the property in the underlying case; and (2) Skyway had an adequate remedy by appeal to raise its claims.

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Josephine Centorbi died intestate in 2007. At the time of her death, Ms. Centorbi received Medicaid benefits. Ms. Centorbiâs sister, Dianne Fiorille administered the estate, and acting without counsel, applied to relieve the estate from administration. When she filed the application, Ms. Fiorille did not check the box on the form to attest that the decedent was over 55 years old and received Medicaid assistance. In addition, as administrator, Ms. Fiorille failed to file some other forms necessary to notify both the probate court and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) of the decedentâs death. The probate court granted Ms. Fiorilleâs application to relieve the estate from administration on the same day it was filed. Two years later, ODJFS learned of Ms. Centorbiâs death. It filed an application to vacate the probate courtâs order, but its application was denied. The probate court held that because Ms. Fiorille indicated that no notice was required (in the form of the omitted check box), ODJFSâs application was time barred. The appellate court affirmed the probate courtâs decision. The Supreme Court found that failing to check the box on the initial relief-from-administration form tolled the statute of limitations. Without the check, the Medicaid program had not been officially notified of the decedentâs death. The Court reversed the appellate courtâs decision and remanded the case to the probate court for further proceedings.