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Licking Heights Local School District Board of Education v. Reynoldsburg City School District Board of Education

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

July 23, 2013

Licking Heights Local School District Board of Education, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Reynoldsburg City School District Board of Education, Defendant-Appellant.

APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, C.P.C. No. 11CVH-03-2873

Bricker & Eckler LLP, Susan L. Oppenheimer, and Jennifer A. Flint, for appellee.

Pepple & Waggoner, Ltd., Christian M. Williams, and Mark J. Jackson, for appellant.

DECISION

CONNOR, J.

{¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Reynoldsburg City School District Board of Education, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, confirming an arbitration award in favor of plaintiff-appellee, Licking Heights Local School District Board of Education.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

{¶ 2} On June 18, 1991, the parties executed a Territorial Agreement regarding the tax proceeds within their respective school districts. Therein, the parties agreed to trade certain districts and to apportion the tax proceeds for such territories in the manner prescribed by R.C. 3311.06. A dispute subsequently arose over the apportionment for the years 2001 through 2006. The parties submitted the dispute to arbitration, and the case was heard by hearing officer Robert Barrow. On July 21, 2010, the hearing officer issued a ruling in favor of appellee and awarded appellee $1, 108, 439.

{¶ 3} On October 21, 2010, appellant filed a motion in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, seeking an order vacating the arbitration award pursuant to R.C. 2711.10. The case was assigned case No. 10CVH-10-15429 on the docket of the court.

{¶ 4} On January 11, 2011, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas issued a decision and judgment entry denying appellee's motion to vacate the arbitration award. Appellant filed a notice of appeal from that decision to this court in Reynoldsburg City School. Dist Bd. of Edn. v. Licking Hts. Loc. School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 10th Dist. No 11AP-173, 2011-Ohio-5063 ("Reynoldsburg I "). [1]

{¶ 5} On March 1, 2011, while the appeal was pending in Reynoldsburg I, appellee filed a motion in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas seeking an order confirming the arbitration award pursuant to R.C. 2711.10. Appellant moved the trial court for dismissal of the motion on the grounds that res judicata and collateral estoppel barred appellee from seeking confirmation of the arbitration award in a subsequent proceeding. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss but stayed the case pending the appeal in Reynoldsburg I.

{¶ 6} On September 30, 2011, we affirmed the decision of the trial court in Reynoldsburg I. The trial court lifted the stay and issued a decision and judgment entry confirming the arbitration award on June 11, 2012. The trial court also awarded "statutory interest * * * beginning July 21, 2010."

II. ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

{¶ 7} Appellant timely filed an appeal to this court asserting the following two assignments of error:

[I.] The Trial Court erred to the prejudice of Defendant-Appellant Reynoldsburg City School District Board of Education by failing to dismiss or deny Plaintiff-Appellee Licking Heights Local School District Board of Education's Complaint/Application to Confirm the Arbitration Award because Plaintiff-Appellee's Motion to Confirm is barred by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel.
[II.] The Trial Court abused its discretion by awarding Plaintiff-Appellee statutory interest pursuant to O.R.C. § 1343.03(A).

III.STANDARD OF REVIEW

{¶ 8} Typically, our review of a trial court decision to confirm an arbitration award is conducted under the abuse of discretion standard. See MBNA Am. Bank, NA. v. Jones, 10th Dist. No. 05AP-665, 2005-Ohio-6760, ¶ 10, citing Endicott v. Johrendt, 10th Dist. No. 97APE08-1122 (Apr. 30, 1998). Under this standard, we will reverse the court's order only if we conclude that the trial court's order was unreasonable, arbitrary or unconscionable. Blakemore v. Blakemore, 5 Ohio St.3d 217, 219 (1983).

{¶ 9} However, the de novo standard of review is proper when the appeal presents a question of law. Hudson v. John Hancock Fin. Servs., 10th Dist. No. 06AP-1284, 2007-Ohio-6997, ΒΆ 8 ("trial court's decision granting or denying a stay of proceedings pending arbitration is * * * subject to de novo review on appeal with respect to issues of law, which commonly will predominate because such cases generally turn on issues of contractual interpretation or statutory application"). Accordingly, to the extent that appellant's ...


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