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Case Update

We're getting into the home stretch of the US Supreme Court's October 2006 term, and we can expect to see several important decisions handed down over the next few weeks:  one on the effect of the Federal sentencing guidelines, another on taxpayer standing to challenge faith-based programs on First Amendment grounds, and one on using race as a method of assigning students to public schools.  And let's not forget the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case, which is sure to take its rightful place in the pantheon of landmark Supreme Court decisions. 

The Ohio Supreme Court churned out six decisions last week.  The most prominent was Welling v. Weinfeld, in which the Court adopted the "false light" theory of invasion of privacy.  It's probably not going to come up that often; there is a difference between false light and defamation, but it's a narrow one. 

In the 1st District this past week, Judge Mark Painter was busy, first reluctantly affirming summary judgment in a case where the plaintiff had stumbled over a bunched-up carpet; Judge Painter expressed his opinion that the "open and obvious" doctrine should be subsumed into comparative negligence, as he has done in other opinions, to the annoyance of at least one other judge, as indicated in this dissent.  He also authored the opinion affirming a $1.5 million judgment in a medical malpractice case, and held that the doctor's "ostrich-like defense" in the face of "overwhelming evidence that he had botched the operation" warranted award of prejudgment interest as well. 

The 10th District has a good case on what's a "reasonable time" in contract cases, holding that a builder a took a year to complete something that should have taken three months didn't make the cut.  The 9th District holds that a domestic violence victim's statements to her mother an hour after the incident could still constitute an "excited utterance."  The 3rd District holds that where the parties in a divorce case stipulate to the date of termination of the marriage, the court errs in picking a different one.

Closer to home, the 8th District reversed a search of a vehicle after a misdemeanor arrest; for whatever reason, the trial court had held that the right to search the passenger compartment applied only where the arrest was a felony.  In a DWI case, the court upheld the overruling of a motion to suppress where the police found the defendant passed out in his car, with the car keys clutched in his hand.  And in a civil case of first impression, the court reverses the granting of a motion to dismiss where the plaintiff failed to attach an affidavit of merit to a medical claim, holding that the appropriate motion for a defendant to file was a motion for more definite statement.

And here's the kind of tip that makes reading this blog worthwhile:  as noted by the 5th District, the procedure for evicting someone from a trailer park is governed by RC Chapter 3733, not Chapter 5321.

Trust me, there'll come a time when you'll thank me.

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