In a decision issued March 12, 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court in Vossman v AirNet Systems, Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-872 held that Ohio Revised Code 2303.21 does not authorize a party to recover the cost of deposition transcripts used in support of a motion for summary judgment. The Court concluded that “a discovery deposition conducted outside the presence of a judge is not a proceeding within the meaning of R.C. 2303.21 and thus the cost of procuring the transcript of such a deposition many not be recovered as a cost under Civ. R. 54(D).
The Ohio Supreme Court considered court-awarded attorney fees in a complex business litigation, Phoenix Lighting Group, LLC v. Genlyte Thomas Group LLC, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-1056. Ohio courts generally follow the “American rule” with each party responsible for its own attorney fees, with the exception for when a party is awarded punitive damages. The Court found that the beginning point for determining the award of attorney fees is the reasonable hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours worked, referred to as the “lodestar.” This decision considers the circumstances that warrant enhancement to the lodestar. The Court reaffirmed their holding in Bittner v. Tri-County Toyota, Inc., 58 Ohio St.3d 143, 569 N.E.2d 464 (1991) to the extent that it held that a lodestar can be modified, but held, consistent with the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Perdue v. Kenny A., 559 U.S. 542, 130 S.Ct. 1662, 176 L.Ed.2d 494 (2010), that the lodestar is presumptively reasonable and that enhancements to the lodestar should be rarely granted and allowed only when the prevailing party has presented evidence that enhancement is necessary to provide reasonable compensation.
In Disciplinary Counsel v Amaddio and Wargo, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-141, the Supreme Court suspended two attorneys from Cuyahoga County for one year after they attempted to secure more than a $1 million fee from a wrongful death settlement. The Court found that the fee claimed was grossly disproportionate to the amount and difficulty of the work performed. In addition, the alleged fee agreement was unenforceable as a matter of law because it was never reduced to a writing signed by the client and attorneys as required by Ohio Revised Code 4705.15(B).
In re K.M., Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-995, a unanimous Ohio Supreme Court decided that a 90-day hearing requirement in Ohio Revised Code 2151.35(B)(1) is mandatory and if the juvenile court does not conduct a dispositional hearing within that time to decide a child’s placement in protective supervision or decide custody issues after authorities file complaints alleging the child is abused, neglected, or dependent, the court must dismiss such cases without prejudice and authorities must start the process over.
The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously decided in State v. Nettles, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-768 that for purposes of Ohio Revised Code 2933.53, an interception of a cell-phone call takes place both at the location of the cell phone and at the location of the government agent listening in on the call and allows law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant to intercept calls from a judge in the county in which the interception of the call occurs.
In a ruling issued by the 7th Circuit U S Court of Appeals, the Court held that using the words, “TIME SENSITIVE DOCUMENT” on the envelope containing a collection letter violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This decision, Preston v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 2020 WL 290451 (7th Cir. Jan. 21, 2020) is instructive not to put any markings on the envelope other than postal designations such as certified mail, overnight mail, priority mail.