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Chefor v. Morgan

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

September 26, 2013

Peter Chefor, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Danyel D. Morgan et al., Defendants-Appellees.

APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (C.P.C. No. 11CV-2195)

Saeid B. Amini, for appellant.

DECISION

GREY, J.

(¶ 1} This is an auto accident personal injury case. Plaintiff-appellant, Peter Chefor, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas overruling objections to a magistrate's decision and awarding damages at a figure lower than that sought in appellant's complaint.

(¶ 2} Appellant, a Cameroonian national, emigrated to the United States in 2008. In 2010, he lived in the Washington D.C. area and on April 5 of that year, he travelled to Columbus, Ohio in order to attend a job interview scheduled for the next day. On arrival in Columbus, appellant took a taxi to the home of a host or sponsor who had agreed to lodge him during his stay in Columbus. As the taxi stopped in front of the host's apartment, a following driver, defendant-appellee, Danyel D. Morgan, rear-ended the taxi at a low speed. Appellant claimed injury and was transported for treatment to the emergency room.

(¶ 3} Appellant did not attend his job interview the next day, staying for a week with his host in Columbus and then returning to the Washington D.C. area. He called his prospective employer in Columbus and was told that the job had been filled. About two months after the accident, however, appellant re-contacted the employer and was granted another interview, as a result of which he was offered a position and moved to Columbus.

(¶ 4} Appellant did not seek further medical treatment for some time after the accident. On February 17, 2011, he filed his complaint in this matter seeking past and future medical bills, lost wages, travel expenses, and compensation for pain and suffering. In addition to appellee Morgan, the defendants named in the complaint include Kiros Z. Hailu and Santigie Dangura, respectively the driver and owner of the taxi. These two were eventually dismissed from the action with prejudice and appellant has not appealed from that dismissal.

(¶ 5} The matter was tried before a magistrate on August 7, 2012. Appellant presented his own testimony and that of his chiropractor. Exhibits included medical records, the standardized traffic report, and photographs of the vehicles involved. Appellee was unable to attend on the day of trial because of a sudden illness. The magistrate denied counsel's resulting motion to continue proceedings. The magistrate noted that delay would be excessively prejudicial to appellant based on the fact that appellant's counsel had traveled from the Washington D.C. area to try the case and appellant's chiropractor witness had taken time off from his practice to be present for trial.

(¶ 6} On August 9, 2012, the magistrate rendered a decision awarding appellant $2, 353.82 for his medical bills incurred on the day of the accident and $750.00 for pain and suffering.

(¶ 7} Appellant filed objections to the magistrate's report, asserting error in the calculation and award of damages. The trial court overruled the objections in a decision rendered January 10, 2013.

(¶ 8} Appellant has timely appealed and brings the following assignments of error:

1. The Magistrate's decision as affirmed by the trial court to NOT award Appellant for the costs associated with his travel from the State of Maryland to Columbus, Ohio was arbitrary, capricious and against the manifest weight of the evidence.
2. The Magistrate's decision as affirmed by the trial court to NOT award Appellant for lost wages at $8.15/hour for the period of two months during which Appellant was recuperating from his injuries was arbitrary, capricious and against the manifest weight of the evidence.
3. The Magistrate's decision as affirmed by the trial court to NOT award Appellant for the cost of medical treatment provided by Dr. Ratliff and Northland Chiropractic totaling $3, 455.00 was arbitrary, ...

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