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Janeane D. Reining v. Eric R. Jensen

September 30, 2011

JANEANE D. REINING APPELLANT
v.
ERIC R. JENSEN, ET AL. APPELLEES



APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CV 2008 12 8883

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Belfance, Presiding Judge.

Cite as Reining v. Jensen,

ss:

DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

{¶1} Plaintiff-Appellant Janeane Reining appeals the trial court's denial of her Civ.R. 60(B) motion. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

I.

{¶2} Ms. Reining was injured in an automobile accident on August 8, 2007, by a vehicle driven by Defendant Eric Jensen. Ms. Reining suffered serious injuries from the collision.

{¶3} On December 30, 2008, Ms. Reining filed suit against Mr. Jensen, John Does 1- 10, Jane Does 1-10, Doe Partnerships 1-10, Doe Corporations 1-10, Doe Governmental Agencies 1-10, and Doe Entities 1-10 asserting claims for negligence and negligent infliction of severe emotional distress. Ms. Reining amended the complaint to add Appellee Home Owners Insurance Company ("Home Owners") as a defendant and asserted a claim for breach of contract based upon Ms. Reining's uninsured/underinsured automobile insurance policy with Home Owners. Home Owners filed a cross-claim against Mr. Jensen.

{¶4} Subsequently, Ms. Reining entered into a settlement agreement with Mr. Jensen and all claims against him were dismissed with prejudice. It appears from the record that Mr. Jensen's insurance company was to pay Ms. Reining $100,000. In addition, Home Owners dismissed its cross-claim against him. Prior to trial, Ms. Reining dismissed all Doe Defendants from the suit.

{¶5} The matter proceeded to a jury trial. During deliberations, the jury posed the following question to the trial court: "If we render a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, is the maximum of $250,000 inclusive of the $100,000 or is it in addition to the $100,000 already settled? What is the maximum amount of the decision?" The questions were discussed among counsel and the trial court, and it was agreed that, as "there is no evidence before the jury with regard to amounts of the policy, [] to answer [the] question[s] would be basically be to respond to something that is not in evidence." Accordingly, the parties agreed to provide the jury with the following answer: "If you render a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, your job is to determine the total amount of damages that will compensate her. The Court will make any legally required adjustment."

{¶6} The jury returned a general verdict for Ms. Reining in the amount of $100,000 "as decided in Jury Interrogatory No. 4." In addition, the jury completed interrogatories to which Ms. Reining did not object. In Jury Interrogatory No. 1, the jury found that Mr. Jensen's negligence proximately caused Ms. Reining's injuries. In Jury Interrogatory No. 2, the jury was instructed to "[s]tate the portion of the total compensatory damages that represents damages for economic loss." In response, the jury wrote in the sum of $50,000. In Jury Interrogatory No. 3, the jury was instructed to "[s]tate the portion of the total compensatory damages that represents damages for non-economic loss." In response, the jury wrote in the sum of $50,000. In Jury Interrogatory No. 4, the jury was instructed to "[s]tate the total compensatory damages recoverable by [Ms. Reining] without considering any payment by Defendant, [Mr.] Jensen." In a parenthetical, the jury was instructed to "[a]dd the amounts listed in Interrogatory Nos. 2 and 3." In response, the jury wrote in the sum of $100,000.

{¶7} Ms. Reining declined the opportunity to poll the jury or view the interrogatories. After the jury was released, Home Owners' counsel made the following statement:

"Well, actually there is the contractual, I want just to make clear that since the verdict is for $100,000, it is now not an underinsured motorist case, and there is no money due and owing plaintiff by defendant Home-Owners Insurance Company under the terms of the contract. And there is still the $5,000 med pay issue that was raised in defendant's trial brief."

The trial court responded that "this case is about the underinsured, I don't think [Ms. Reining's counsel] takes any issue with the first statement with regard to that. Am I correct?" To which, ...


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