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Camp v. City of Sandusky

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District

July 12, 2013

Terry F. Camp, Sr., et al. Appellants/Cross-Appellees.
v.
City of Sandusky Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

Trial Court No. 2010-CV-0447

D. Jeffery Rengel and Thomas R. Lucas, for appellants/cross-appellees.

William P. Lang, for appellee/cross-appellant.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

PIETRYKOWSKI, J.

{¶ 1} Appellants, Terry F. Camp, Sr. and Susan Camp, appeal the May 2, 2012 grant of summary judgment in favor of appellee, the city of Sandusky, based upon the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The city has filed a cross-appeal arguing that the court should have also granted summary judgment in its favor on appellants' negligence claim. For the reasons that follow, we find that no genuine issues of fact remain and affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the city.

{¶ 2} The relevant facts of this case are as follows. Terry F. Camp Sr. alleges he was injured while riding a bicycle in the vicinity of the Keller building where he ran in to a cable surrounding the building. The building is located in downtown Sandusky, Ohio, and is owned by the city of Sandusky. The building is part of the city's Paper District Redevelopment Area which had a goal of revitalization of the city's downtown and waterfront areas. At the time of Camp's fall, the building was being marketed for sale.

{¶ 3} Because the building was dilapidated and the city feared that passers-by might be struck by falling bricks or other debris, sometime from 2000 to 2001, the city installed a one-quarter inch in diameter wire around the north, south, and west sides of the Keller building to prevent pedestrians from using the sidewalk surrounding the building. The cable extended out to the sidewalk on the north and west sides of the Keller building and ran parallel with Shoreline Drive and Decatur Streets on those respective sides. The wire was placed approximately four feet high and secured with posts in the ground around the building. Reflectors, flag tape and yellow caution tape were also strung along the wire to ensure passing pedestrians and vehicles could see the wire.

{¶ 4} On July 10, 2009, Camp was riding his bicycle in the street near the Keller building and attempted to enter the sidewalk to avoid vehicular traffic. Camp then allegedly struck the wire surrounding the building and sustained injuries. There is significant dispute as to whether Camp struck the cable. On June 8, 2010, Camp and his wife filed a complaint against the city alleging negligence, two counts of negligence per se under R.C. 2744.02(B)(3) and (B)(4), and loss of consortium.

{¶ 5} The city filed a motion for summary judgment on December 16, 2010, on all claims advanced by appellants arguing sovereign immunity, that the city owed no duty to Camp because the cable was an "open and obvious" danger, that Camp could not prove the cable actually caused his alleged injuries, and that the loss of consortium claim was not viable. The trial court granted the city's motion for summary judgment finding that the city was immune from liability for the causes of action advanced by appellants. They filed a timely appeal of that decision.

{¶ 6} Appellants now raise the following two assignments of error for our consideration:

I. The trial court erred when it held that R.C. § 2744.02(B)(4) did not remove the grant of sovereign immunity to appellee under the political subdivision tort liability act, R.C. § 2744.01 et. seq.
II. The trial court erred when it granted summary judgment finding that R.C. 2744.02(B)(3) does not apply as an exception to the grant of sovereign immunity to appellee under Ohio's political subdivision tort liability act, R.C. § 2744.01 et. seq.

{¶ 7} The city's cross-appeal raises the following assignment of error:

The trial court committed reversible error when it found that there were justiciable issues of material fact regarding ...

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