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Stevens v. Ohio Department of Mental Health

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

July 11, 2013

Robert Stevens, II, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Mental Health, Defendant-Appellee.

APPEAL from the Court of Claims of Ohio (Ct. of Cl. No. 2010-09256).

William C. Wilkinson, for appellant.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General, Emily Simmons, and Lee Ann Rabe, for appellee.

DECISION

SADLER, J.

{¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Robert Stevens, II, appeals from a judgment of the Court of Claims of Ohio granting the summary judgment motion of defendant-appellee, Ohio Department of Mental Health. For the following reasons, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

{¶ 2} Appellee previously employed appellant as a Therapeutic Program Worker at one of its mental health facilities. On July 9, 2008, appellant was notified that he was being removed from his employment, effective July 11, 2008, for failing to meet performance expectations by "sitting behind the desk" instead of "interacting with patients." (Appellant's Memorandum in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment, Exh. A.)

{¶ 3} On April 27, 2009, appellant filed a charge of discrimination against appellee under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Appellant contended that he was unlawfully discharged for having a disability that prevented him from being able to stand on the job. On November 13, 2009, the EEOC notified appellant that it was dismissing the charge of discrimination. The EEOC also informed appellant of his right to sue appellee and stated, "[y]ou may file a lawsuit * * * under federal law * * * in federal or state court. Your lawsuit must be filed WITHIN 90 DAYS of your receipt of this notice; or your right to sue * * * will be lost." (Emphasis sic.) (Appellant's Memorandum in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment, Exh. G.)

{¶ 4} On February 11, 2010, appellant filed a lawsuit against appellee in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and alleged a claim of discrimination under Title I of the ADA. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), appellee filed a motion to dismiss, stating that claims against the state of Ohio under Title I of the ADA are barred by sovereign immunity. Appellant filed an amended complaint, alleging a claim of discrimination under Title II of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12132. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1), appellant later voluntarily dismissed his federal complaint without prejudice.

{¶ 5} On July 19, 2010, appellant filed a complaint in the Court of Claims of Ohio alleging a claim of discrimination under Title II of the ADA. Pursuant to Civ.R. 12(B)(6), appellee filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as barred by the statute of limitations, and on September 9, 2010, appellant filed an amended complaint, restating his claim of discrimination under Title II of the ADA and alleging disability discrimination claims under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 28 U.S.C. 794, and R.C. 4112.02. Pursuant to Civ.R. 12(B)(1) and (6), appellee filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint as barred by the statute of limitations, and the trial court granted the motion.

{¶ 6} In Stevens v. Ohio Dept. of Mental Health, 10th Dist. No. 11AP-255, 2011-Ohio-4930, ¶ 7, this court reversed the trial court's decision, stating "[t]he decision from the Ohio Court of Claims makes it clear that the court considered a number of issues outside the four corners of the complaint filed in that court. Where the trial court is going to consider factual issues outside the four corners of the complaint, that consideration should come in the context of a motion for summary judgment, not a motion to dismiss."

{¶ 7} On remand, appellee filed a motion for summary judgment, again alleging that appellant's complaint is barred by the statute of limitations, and appellant moved to file a second amended complaint in order to support a claim of equitable tolling of the statute of limitations based on the EEOC's right to sue letter indicating that he may file a lawsuit in federal or state court and to assert the relation back of his claims, filed under R.C. 4112.02 and the Rehabilitation Act pursuant to Civ.R. 15(C). The trial court granted appellant's motion to amend and denied appellee's motion for summary judgment as moot. After appellant filed the second amended complaint, appellee filed another motion for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the motion. The trial court concluded that appellant's ADA claim was barred by the statute of limitations and that Ohio's savings statute, R.C. 2305.19, did not apply to save the claim. The court also concluded that appellant's claims under the Rehabilitation Act and R.C. 4112.02 were barred by the statute of limitations. The court declined to apply equitable tolling and did not address the relation back doctrine under Civ.R. 15(C).

II. ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

{¶ 8} Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal and assigns the ...


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