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State v. Lalain

Supreme Court of Ohio

July 17, 2013

The State of Ohio, Appellee,
v.
Lalain, Appellant.

Submitted March 13, 2013

Certified by and Appeal from the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County, No. 95857, 2011-Ohio-4813.

Timothy J. McGinty, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Kristen L. Sobieski, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

John P. Hildebrand Co., L.P.A., and John P. Hildebrand Sr., for appellant.

Syllabus of the Court

1. A trial court has discretion to order restitution in an appropriate case and may base the amount it orders on a recommendation of the victim, the offender, a presentence investigation report, estimates or receipts indicating the cost of repairing or replacing property, and other information, but the amount ordered cannot be greater than the amount of economic loss suffered as a direct and proximate result of the commission of the offense.

2. A trial court is required to conduct a hearing on restitution only if the offender, victim, or survivor disputes the amount of restitution ordered.

O'Donnell, J.

{¶ 1} Daniel Lalain appeals from a judgment of the Eighth District Court of Appeals affirming his conviction of a fifth-degree-felony theft offense, which included an order to pay $63, 121 in restitution for costs Aero-Instruments incurred to investigate the theft and appraise the value of the stolen property. The appellate court also certified that its decision conflicts with State v. Ratliff, 194 Ohio App.3d 202, 2011-Ohio-2313, 955 N.E.2d 425, on the following question:

"Whether, despite the defendant's failure to object, it is error for the trial court to order a defendant to pay an amount of restitution in the absence of a specific plea agreement and without a hearing or evidence substantiating the economic loss claimed by the plaintiff?"

131 Ohio St.3d 1551, 2012-Ohio-2263, 967 N.E.2d 763.

{¶ 2} We determined that a conflict existed, id., accepted Lalain's discretionary appeal, 132 Ohio St.3d 1486, 2012-Ohio-3334, 971 N.E.2d 962, and consolidated the matters for review.

{¶ 3} R.C. 2929.18(A)(1) gives a sentencing court discretion to order restitution but not in an amount greater than the amount of economic loss suffered by the victim as a direct and proximate result of the commission of the offense. The court may base the amount of restitution on an amount recommended by the victim, the offender, a presentence investigation report, estimates or receipts indicating the cost of repairing or replacing property, and other information. Further, the statute mandates that the court must conduct a hearing if the offender, victim, or survivor disputes the amount.

{¶ 4} In this case, the victim submitted a letter seeking to recover the cost of an expert report on the value of its loss and the time spent by employees trying to identify and value the items taken-all of which were returned. It sought $63, 121 as restitution for expenses not incurred as the direct and proximate result of the commission of the offense. Further, at sentencing, although Lalain's counsel disputed the amount of restitution, the court failed to hold a hearing.

{¶ 5} Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Facts and Procedural History

{¶ 6} Daniel Lalain worked as an engineer for Aero-Instruments, a Cleveland company that designs aviation and aerospace components such as airspeed and altitude sensors. In June 2008, Lalain resigned without notice, taking electronic files copied from his work computer as well as duplicates of documents from his office files. In addition, he retained two probes that he had previously taken home for testing.

{¶ 7} On July 2, 2008, Aero-Instruments commenced a civil action against Lalain seeking recovery for misappropriation of trade secrets and proprietary product information, and it obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent him from sharing any information with competitors. After Lalain resigned, the company contacted law enforcement, claiming that he had stolen intellectual property, and as a result, officers ...


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