Ohio Court of Appeals Dismisses Car Accident Litigant’s Appeal on Procedural Grounds

Thousands of Ohio car accidents occur every year. While not every crash results in litigation, a significant number do. When this happens, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant acted negligently, which means that he or she failed to act in a reasonably prudent manner and that this was the proximate cause of the accident.

Once a trial  court enters a final judgment in favor of the winning party, the other side may appeal the trial court’s ruling. The party appealing the lower court’s decision has the burden of convincing the appellate court that a mistake was made, as a matter of law and that he or she is entitled to relief from the trial court’s judgment, often in the form of a new trial.

Just as there are rules and procedures that must be followed in a trial court, there are multiple requirements that must be met in order to be successful on appeal , some of which have nothing to do with the merits of the case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case appealed to the Court of Appeals of Ohio for the Second Appellate District, the plaintiffs were two women who filed suit against the defendant motorist and another defendant (who was dismissed from the action by the trial court and did not appeal), seeking compensation for property damage to their automobiles in an apparent hit-and-run accident.

The trial court entered judgment for the plaintiffs, and the remaining defendant appealed. He maintained that there was no evidence that he had been driving the vehicle that struck and damaged the plaintiffs’ cars,  that no one had seen him driving and that he had not been cited, or ticketed for hitting the plaintiffs’ vehicles.

Decision of the Court

The appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling that the defendant was at fault, but the ruling was not based on the facts of the case. Instead, the ruling was based upon the defendant’s failure to comply with proper appellate procedure. (He had not filed a transcript of the trial court proceedings, and he had twice attempted to file an unacceptable affidavit as a statement of the evidence in lieu of a transcript.) Without the trial court transcript the appeals court had no evidence upon which to base a reversal and had to  affirm the trial court’s judgment.

The court also pointed out that the defendant’s reliance on his claim that he did not receive a traffic citation for the accident was faulty. A ticket or citation would not have been admissible to prove fault and the absence of a citation could not be used to show lack of fault.Whether a citation was issued was simply neither relevant nor admissible.

If You Have Questions About an Ohio Motor Vehicle Accident or An Appeal

The law firm of Rubin Guttman & Associates, L.P.A., handles many types of personal injury and wrongful death cases, including Cleveland car accident cases. We are also experienced appellate lawyers. To schedule a free case evaluation,  contact us at 216-696-4006. Remember there are important deadlines in injury and death cases. Failing to file a claim in a timely fashion may  result in the dismissal of your case, regardless of its merits. So don’t delay; call now!

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