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Courtney v. Buehrer

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont

January 9, 2017

CHAD COURTNEY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STEPHEN BUEHRER, ADMR., OHIO BUREAU OF WORKERS COMPENSATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

         CIVIL APPEAL FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. 2015 CVD 00290

          Mark Weisser, for plaintiff-appellant

          Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General, James M. Carroll, for plaintiff-appellee, Stephen Buehrer, Admin., BWC

          J. Stephen Wirthlin, for appellee, Sunesis Construction Co.

          OPINION

          RINGLAND, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Chad Courtney, appeals the decision of the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, affirming the denial of his workers' compensation appeal. For the reasons detailed below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} Courtney was injured while working for Sunesis Construction Company and subsequently filed a workers' compensation claim. The Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) approved Courtney's claim for the following conditions: cervical strain, lumbar strain, transverse process fracture L2 left, transverse process fracture L3 left, and subcutaneous contusion of the left buttock.

         {¶ 3} Thereafter, Courtney sought to amend his claim to allow for additional conditions, including the substantial aggravation of pre-existing degenerative disk disease. That claim, however, was denied by the BWC. Courtney appealed that decision to the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas.

         {¶ 4} A trial de novo was held on March 3, 2016. Prior to the introduction of evidence, the court indicated its intention to have the parties submit written closing arguments in lieu of oral argument. Those written arguments were to be submitted "in blind, " i.e., submitted directly to the trial court without rebuttal from either side. As reflected by the record, the trial court stated:

TRIAL COURT: It's just really not going to fit in my schedule. Because what happens is when I have trials, I keep my morning docket light, hopefully. And I end up having fairly substantial dockets on the Thursday and Friday of each week. And it's just a very - - it's just difficult. But that's the process, obviously. Mr. Courtney, I'm sure, will testify, and then I will review the doctors' depositions, and we'll get the written closings at - - on this case. And then once that's done, obviously I - - I'll have everything I need to issue a decision. All right?
APPELLANT'S COUNSEL: Very good.
TRIAL COURT: Thank you very much. Go ahead.

         Neither party objected to this decision. Following the close of evidence, the trial court again noted the request for written argument.

TRIAL COURT: All right. And - and as I've indicated, what I'd like to do, normally I would do a - an oral statement, but I think we'll just give you about 2 to 3 weeks to just submit a brief written closing statement. I mean, it's a pretty straightforward case, with all due respect to the parties from the standpoint of - of the circumstances, and the injury, the allowed claims, and it happens - it boils down ...

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