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Runge v. Brown

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District

July 12, 2013

Richard Runge, et al. Appellants
v.
Robert A. Brown, et al. Appellees

Trial Court No. 08CV702H

Gregg A. Peppel, for appellants.

John A. Coppeler, for appellees.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

YARBROUGH, J.

I. Introduction

{¶ 1} Appellants, Richard and Amy Runge, appeal from the judgment of the Ottawa County Court of Common Pleas, following a bench trial, which found in favor of appellees, Robert and Patricia Brown, on appellants' claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, and breach of contract. Because we hold that the trial court erred in striking appellants' jury demand, we reverse.

{¶ 2} The present matter began on December 15, 2008, when appellants filed their complaint, with a jury demand, against appellees. Appellants' claims stemmed from their purchase of appellees' condominium in February 2005. The gravamen of appellants' complaint was that appellees allegedly knew that the condominium roof leaked and that the condominium had never been issued a certificate of occupancy, but failed to disclose those facts to appellants prior to the purchase.

{¶ 3} On June 8, 2010, appellants moved for summary judgment on all of their claims. Appellees subsequently moved for summary judgment as to one of the counts on August 23, 2010. Briefing on the motions for summary judgment continued until January 3, 2011. In the interim, the parties had a discovery dispute regarding appellees' opportunity to inspect the condominium. On September 3, 2010, the trial court resolved the dispute, and simultaneously entered an order that scheduled a telephone case management conference for December 2, 2010.

{¶ 4} On March 1, 2011, appellants submitted their jury deposit. On March 8, 2011, however, the trial court sua sponte struck the jury demand for failure to deposit the required costs within ten days after the first pretrial as set forth in Loc.R. 11.09 of the Court of Common Pleas of Ottawa County, General Division.[1] Thus, the trial court set the matter for a bench trial to occur on June 6-7, 2011. Later, on April 28, 2011, the trial court denied the parties' motions for summary judgment. The trial date was then continued several times. On August 18, 2011, a pretrial was held pursuant to Loc.R. 31 of the Court of Common Pleas of Ottawa County, General Division. In accordance with the rule, the parties submitted their pretrial statements and a settlement pretrial report was entered. The report stated only that the matter was to proceed to a bench trial on August 29, 2011. Ultimately, the trial date was continued again, and the trial eventually took place on December 12-14, 2011, and March 26-28, 2012.

{¶ 5} Following the trial, the court entered judgment on October 31, 2012, finding in favor of appellees on all of appellants' claims. Appellants have timely appealed, and now raise three assignments of error:

1. The trial court erred in striking Richard and Amy Runges' jury demand.
2. The trial court erred by finding that Robert and Patricia Brown did not misrepresent or conceal the fact that there was no building permit or certificate of occupancy. These findings and resulting judgment in favor of Robert and Patricia Brown on Richard and Amy Runges' claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement and breach of contract are erroneous and against the manifest weight of the evidence.
3. The trial court erred by finding that there was no evidence of fraud or mistake, thus avoiding rescission as an available remedy to Plaintiffs Richard and Amy Runge. This finding and resulting judgment in favor of defendants Robert and Patricia ...

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