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Miller v. Ohio Department of Transportation

Court of Claims of Ohio

April 4, 2013

DENNIS D. MILLER, Admr., etc. Plaintiff
v.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, et al. Defendants

To S.C. Reporter August 22, 2013

DECISION

PATRICK M. MCGRATH Judge.

(¶ 1} Plaintiff, Dennis Miller, brings this action for wrongful death against defendants, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the State of Ohio, on behalf of himself and the heirs of decedent, Pauline Miller. The issues of liability and damages were bifurcated. Following a trial on the issue of liability, the court found that ODOTs negligence in failing to maintain the roadway in a reasonably safe condition was the sole proximate cause of a collision in which Pauline's automobile was struck by a box truck. Pauline was killed in the accident. The court determined that but for the existence of potholes in the roadway, the motor vehicle collision would not have occurred. The case then proceeded to trial on the issue of damages.[1]

(¶ 2} Dennis met Pauline while he was working as an automobile mechanic. Pauline needed assistance with her automobile and Dennis readily offered to help. At that time, Pauline was working as a staff nurse while pursuing an advanced nursing degree. Dennis and Pauline subsequently began dating and eventually married a year and a half later, in 1984. They have two children, Rachael and Nathan.

(¶ 3} Early in the morning on March 11, 2008, Pauline left the house for her shift at the hospital. Prior to beginning her shift, Pauline planned to visit Dennis' brother who was scheduled to undergo eye surgery. Shortly after 7:00 a.m., Dennis returned home from working the night shift. After arriving at home, Dennis saw highway patrol cars approach his home. The highway patrol troopers then informed him that Pauline had been in an accident and had passed away. Dennis woke up Nathan, who was asleep in bed at their home, and the two drove to the accident scene where they saw Pauline's car being loaded onto a truck. The two then drove to the hospital to see Pauline. Rachael, who was working in Hawaii for Mesa Airlines, received a telephone call wherein she was informed of Pauline's death, and she immediately flew to Ohio to be with her family.

(¶ 4} R.C. 2125.02 provides, in part:

(¶ 5} "(A)(2) The jury, or the court if the civil action for wrongful death is not tried to a jury, may award damages authorized by division (B) of this section, as it determines are proportioned to the injury and loss resulting to the beneficiaries in division (A)(1) of this section by reason of the wrongful death and may award reasonable funeral and burial expenses incurred as a result of the wrongful death. * * *[2]

(¶ 6} "* * *

(¶ 7} "(B) Compensatory damages may be awarded in a civil action for wrongful death and may include damages for the following:

(¶ 8} "(1) Loss of support from the reasonably expected earning capacity of the decedent;

(¶ 9} "(2) Loss of services of the decedent;

(¶ 10} "(3) Loss of the society of the decedent, including loss of companionship, consortium, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, and education, suffered by the surviving spouse, dependent children, parents, or next of kin of the decedent;

(¶ 11} "(4) Loss of prospective inheritance to the decedent's heirs at law at the time of the decedent's death;[3]

(¶ 12} "(5) The mental anguish incurred by the surviving spouse, dependent children, parents, or next of kin of ...


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