Ohio tort reform law survives challenge

Chris Rizo Mar. 23, 2010, 4:39pm

Robert Cupp

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline)-The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a state law limiting legal action by workers hurt on the job is constitutional.

In two decisions, the state's high court ruled that it is legal to restrict employees who file "workplace intentional torts" from simultaneously receiving state workers' compensation benefits.

The 2005 state law challenged in the case requires plaintiffs to prove their employer acted deliberately.

Justice Robert Cupp authored the cases' two majority opinions.

"As this court has often recognized, workers' compensation laws are the result of a unique mutual compromise between employees and employers, in which employees give up their common-law remedy and accept possibly lower monetary recovery, but with greater assurance that they will receive reasonable compensation for their injury," Cupp wrote. "Employers in turn give up common-law defenses but are protected from unlimited liability."

He also noted that Ohio's workers' compensation system is no-fault by design.

"Conventional standards regarding what a 'just' result might be subordinated to other concerns in this setting, and awards are routinely made to employees injured as the result of their own misconduct," Cupp wrote.

The case originated from a complaint filed in 2005 by an employee hurt on the job at Salem-based Metal & Wire Products Co. The plaintiff in the case was Rose Kaminski.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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