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White v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

September 26, 2013

Darrell White, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee.

APPEAL from the Court of Claims of Ohio Ct. of Cl. No. 2010-04696

Darrell White, pro se.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General, Kristin Boggs and Jeanna R. Volp, for appellee.

DECISION

O'GRADY, J.

(¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Darrell White, appeals from a judgment of the Court of Claims of Ohio regarding the amount of damages awarded in his favor in a negligence action against defendant-appellee, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("ODRC"). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

(¶ 2} On February 8, 2010, appellant, an inmate at Allen Correctional Institution, sustained injuries as a result of an assault by another inmate. At the time of the assault, there was a separation order in place that prohibited appellant and the other inmate from being housed in the same correctional institution. Appellant filed a complaint on March 16, 2010 seeking damages from ODRC for negligently failing to enforce the separation order. ODRC admitted liability and, on January 19, 2012, the issue of damages was tried before a magistrate.

(¶ 3} The magistrate's decision reflects that the following facts were adduced at trial. Appellant testified that he incurred permanent injuries to his right pinkie finger, neck, and back as a result of the assault. He also aggravated a preexisting gunshot injury to his right leg and longstanding conditions of anxiety and depression. Appellant stated he was placed in segregation while the fight was investigated by prison staff. As a result, appellant claimed he lost other civil lawsuits he had filed, because of his limited access to postal services. Appellant testified the value of those lost lawsuits were "trillions and billions" of dollars. (R. 283, at 2.)

(¶ 4} Polly Schmalz testified that she is the healthcare administrator for the Marion Correctional Institution ("MCI") where appellant is currently incarcerated. According to Schmalz, an injury to appellant's right pinkie finger was noted on the institutional transfer form completed just prior to his arrival at Allen Correctional Institution. She stated that a medical report completed shortly after the assault noted appellant's injury to his right pinkie, but no other injuries. Schmalz confirmed that appellant's medical records do not show any other physical injuries occurred as the result of the February 8, 2010 assault.

(¶ 5} Dr. Ralph Lyon, an MCI physician, testified that he has examined appellant on numerous occasions. He stated that appellant had chronic conditions relating to his neck, back, and right leg, and that he had prescribed medication for appellant to treat those conditions. Dr. Lyon indicated that while appellant could not fully straighten the tip of his right pinkie finger, it was otherwise fully functional.

(¶ 6} Finally, Dr. Richard Goeke, the MCI mental health supervisor, testified that appellant initially received mental health services in December 2009 for complaints of depression and difficulty sleeping. In January 2010, appellant was diagnosed with adjustment disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and depression due to stressors. As a result, appellant was placed on medication. Regarding the assault, Dr. Goeke testified the notes in his file indicated that appellant was "stressed" because of the assault, being shot in the leg, and his pending civil lawsuits. Dr. Goeke testified that the records show appellant was discharged from the mental health caseload in December 2011.

(¶ 7} The magistrate concluded that appellant had preexisting injuries that were aggravated as the result of the assault, and did not suffer any permanent injury as a result of the assault. The magistrate recommended that the court enter judgment in favor of appellant in the amount of $1, 500. The Court of Claims of Ohio adopted the magistrate's decision that same day.

(¶ 8} Appellant submitted lengthy objections to the magistrate's decision, which primarily challenged the amount of the award for damages. Appellant did not, however, support his objections to the magistrate's factual findings with either a transcript of the proceedings before the magistrate or an affidavit of the relevant evidence. In August 2012, the Court of Claims ...


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