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Supportive Solutions Training Academy L.L.C. v. Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District

September 12, 2013

SUPPORTIVE SOLUTIONS TRAINING ACADEMY L.L.C. PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
ELECTRONIC CLASSROOM OF TOMORROW DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-652873

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Paul W. Flowers Paul W. Flowers Co., L.P.A. John A. Demer James A. Marniella Demer & Marniella, L.L.C. Deena M. Giordano.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Maureen Connors Ann S. Vaughn.

BEFORE: Keough, J., Jones, P.J., and S. Gallagher, J.

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, JUDGE

(¶1} This cause is before this court on remand from the Supreme Court of Ohio. In Supportive Solutions Training Academy v. Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga Nos. 95022 and 95287, 2012-Ohio-1185 ("ECOT IF), this court considered a consolidated appeal, by defendant-appellant, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow ("ECOT"), that appealed various rulings by the trial court and the jury's award of monetary damages in favor of plaintiff-appellee, Supportive Solutions Training Academy, L.L.C. ("Supportive Solutions"). Included in those rulings was the trial court's decision denying ECOT leave to file its amended answer to assert the affirmative defense of political-subdivision immunity.

(¶2} In ECOT II, we determined that denial of leave to file an amended answer to assert immunity was not a final appealable order and thus dismissed the assignment of error. We also concluded in that opinion that we lacked jurisdiction to consider the other assignments of error raised in light of the Supreme Court's ruling in State ex rel. Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow v. Cuyahoga Cty. Court of Common Pleas, 129 Ohio St.3d 30, 2011-Ohio-626, 950 N.E.2d 149 ("ECOT F), which reverted the case to a procedural point prior to trial and therefore all other orders that ECOT appealed from were interlocutory. See ECOT 77 at ¶ 5 -7.

(¶3} ECOT appealed our decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, and the court accepted the discretionary appeal to consider the following proposition of law: "Any order that denies the benefit of an alleged immunity to a political subdivision is immediately appealable pursuant to R.C. 2744.02(C), including the denial of a motion to amend the answer to include the defense." Supportive Solutions, L.L.C. v. Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Slip Opinion No. 2013-Ohio-2410, 9 ("ECOTIIF).

(¶4} In reversing our decision, the Supreme Court reasoned that "the trial court's denial of ECOT's motion for leave to file an amended answer to raise the affirmative defense of political-subdivision immunity precluded ECOT from enjoying the benefits of the alleged immunity." ECOT III at ¶ 23. Accordingly, the court held that the trial court's denial of leave was a final appealable order under R.C. 2977.04(C) and this court had jurisdiction to consider ECOT's appeal of that judgment. Id. The case was remanded to this court to consider the merits of ECOT's appeals.

I. Facts and Procedural History

(¶5} A detailed case history was set forth by the Ohio Supreme Court in ECOT I. Accordingly, we discuss only the relevant facts pertaining to the resolution of this appeal.

(¶6} In March 2008, Supportive Solutions filed a suit for damages against ECOT and others based on a series of service contracts between the parties. ECOT and the other defendants filed an answer in which they did not raise the affirmative defense of political-subdivision immunity. In December 2008, Supportive Solutions filed an amended complaint to raise an additional cause of action against a new defendant, Lucas County Educational Service Center ("Service Center"). In ECOT's answer to the amended complaint, it again did not raise political-subdivision immunity as an affirmative defense; rather, it reincorporated its original answer.

(¶7} In January 2009, Service Center moved to dismiss Supportive Solutions' claim against it based on, among other things, political-subdivision immunity. Shortly thereafter, Service Center was dismissed from the case. In January 2010, nearly a year later and after discovery was completed, ECOT raised for the first time the defense of political-subdivision immunity in its motion for partial summary judgment. After Supportive Solutions claimed that ECOT had waived this affirmative defense by failing to raise it in the answer, ECOT filed a motion for leave to file an amended answer to ...


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