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Crafton v. Shriner Building Co., LLC

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

September 27, 2013

JILL M. CRAFTON Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
SHRINER BUILDING CO., LLC, et al. Defendants-Appellants

Civil Appeal from (Common Pleas Court) Trial Court Case No. 12-CV-7571

GARY J. LEPPLA, Atty. Reg. #0017172, and PHILIP J. LEPPLA, Atty. Reg. #0089075, Leppla Associates, Ltd., Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellee, Jill M. Crafton

MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by CARLEY J. INGRAM, Atty. Reg. #0020084, Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Montgomery County Courts Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee, Board of Commissioners of Montgomery County

EDWARD J. DOWD, Atty. Reg. #0018681, and JOSHUA R. SCHIERLOH, Atty. Reg. #0078325, Surdyk, Dowd & Turner Co., L.P.A., One Prestige Place, Attorneys for Defendant-Appellant, City of Moraine, Ohio

JEFFREY SLYMAN, Atty. Reg. #0010098, and PATRICK JANIS, Atty. Reg. #0012194, and GORDON ARNOLD, Atty. Reg. #0012195, Attorneys for Defendant-Appellees, David Shriner and Shriner Building Co., LLC

OPINION

HALL, J.

(¶ 1} The City of Moraine appeals that part of an order overruling its motion to dismiss a claim of negligence involving the design and placement of a sewer manhole and a fire hydrant on the property of Jill Crafton, the appellee. It is beyond doubt that Moraine is immune from liability for this claim under the Political Subdivision Tort Liability Act because the design and placement of the manhole and the fire hydrant are connected with governmental functions. We therefore reverse the appealed part of the order.

FACTS

(¶ 2} In October 2012, Crafton filed a complaint against, among others, the City of Moraine. She later filed an amended complaint for damages and declaratory relief The amended complaint alleges that Crafton purchased a lot from Moraine "in Oak Point Subdivision, a residential development located on previously owned City of Moraine property, which was planned and designed by a collaborative effort of the City of Moraine, Montgomery County (with oversight of County engineers), and four selected builders." (Amended Complaint, 11). Crafton selected one of these builders to build her a house on the lot.

(¶ 3} The builder, in building Crafton's house, "failed to take into account the location of a manhole in relation to the layout of the Home." (Id. at 20). "The manhole * * * is located in the middle of Jill Crafton's driveway, pursuant to the Home layout * * *." (Id. at 20). Also, there is "a fire hydrant in her frontage." (Id. at 22). "Crafton was at no time made aware that there was going to be a manhole and lid in her driveway, or a fire hydrant in her frontage." (Id.). Moraine allowed her to relocate the manhole but would not pay for the relocation. Crafton went ahead and paid for the relocation herself and then filed suit to recover the cost.

(¶ 4} The amended complaint contains two negligence claims against Moraine.[1] One alleges that "Moraine improperly developed and negligently sold the subject lot to Plaintiff Crafton with a manhole hidden underground, preventing its visibility at the time of the closing on the lot." (Id. at 58). The other alleges that "Moraine * * * negligently permitted the design and placement of a fire hydrant and manhole on the lot at issue in such a manner as to prevent the reasonable development of the property and placement of a driveway on the lot." (Id. at 57).

(¶ 5} Moraine moved to dismiss the negligence claims under Civ.R. 12(B)(6), claiming political-subdivision immunity. On April 23, 2013, the trial court sustained the motion with respect to the claim for negligent sale but overruled it with respect to the claim for negligent design and placement of the manhole and the fire hydrant.

(¶ 6} According to R.C. 2744.02(C), "[a]n order that denies a political subdivision * * * the benefit of an alleged immunity from liability as provided in this chapter or any other provision of the law is a final order." Thus, the trial court's order is an ...


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