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State ex rel. New Riegel Local School District Board of Education v. Ohio School Facilities Commission

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Seneca

March 13, 2017

STATE, EX REL. NEW RIEGEL LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION, RELATOR-APPELLANT.
v.
OHIO SCHOOL FACILITIES COMMISSION, ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.

         Appeal from Seneca County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. 15-CV-0114

          Christopher L. McCloskey for Appellant

          Lee Ann Rabe for Appellees

          OPINION

          ZIMMERMAN, J.

         {¶1} Plaintiff-appellant, the State of Ohio ex rel. New Riegel Local School District Board of Education ("New Riegel"), appeals the judgment of the Seneca County Court of Common Pleas dismissing its petition for a writ of mandamus/complaint for declaratory judgment. On appeal, New Riegel asserts that the trial court erred by granting the motion of the Ohio School Facilities Commission and Ohio Facilities Construction Commission ("Commission") dismissing its mandamus and declaratory relief claims. Based upon the following, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Facts and Statement of the Case

         {¶2} This case stems from the construction of a K-12 school building in the New Riegel School District. New Riegel entered into an agreement in December, 1999 with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to assist with the payment and project management of a new school in its school district. The Commission is an agency of the State of Ohio created under R.C. 3318.30(A) to "administer the provision of financial assistance to school districts for the acquisition or construction of classroom facilities in accordance with section 3318.01 to 3318.32 of the Revised Code." R.C. 3318.30(A). The project agreement set forth the cost of the project ($10, 436, 989) and the allocation of the financial responsibility between New Riegel (11% of project) and the Commission (89% of the project). (Doc. No. 2, Ex. B).

         {¶3} It is unclear from the record as to when the construction of the school commenced and was completed, but ultimately a certificate of completion was issued by the Commission to New Riegel thusly closing the project, in either 2002 or 2004. [1]

         {¶4} In January, 2015 New Riegel requested the Commission to re-open the school building project and provide funding to repair construction defects. (Doc. No. 2 at ¶ 29). The Commission denied New Riegel's request. (Id. at ¶ 31).

         Procedural History

         {¶5} New Riegel filed its lawsuit versus the Commission in the trial court on April 30, 2015, requesting a writ of mandamus/complaint for declaratory judgment to compel the Commission to re-open the New Riegel school project and compel it to provide its share of funding to repair the construction defects. Thereafter, the Commission filed its motion to dismiss New Riegel's claims pursuant to Civ. R. 12(B)(6). The Commission further requested the dismissal of the complaint asserting that the Court of Claims, not the trial court, was the proper court for New Riegel to proceed.

         {¶6} On August 17, 2016, the trial court determined that New Riegel's claim was a claim for money damages and that the Ohio Court of Claims, not the Seneca County Common Pleas Court, had exclusive jurisdiction to decide money damages. The trial court further found that New Riegel failed to establish that the Commission had a legal duty (to New Riegel) because the project was closed and because (New Riegel) had an adequate remedy at law against the contractors involved in the construction of the school. Lastly, the trial court found declaratory relief was not proper since the facts alleged by New Riegel did not constitute a violation of law by the Commission. Accordingly, the trial court granted the motion to dismiss from which New Riegel filed its appeal. New Riegel presents the following five assignments of error for our review:

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING APPELLANT'S MANDAMUS CLAIM AND DETERMINING THAT APPELLEES HAVE NO CURRENT LEGAL DUTY TO APPELLANT.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 2

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING APPELLANT'S MANDAMUS CLAIM AND RULING THAT APPELLANT HAS A CLEAR AND ADEQUATE REMEDY IN THE ORDINARY COURSE OF LAW BY PURSUING CLAIMS AGAINST THE CONTRACTORS INVOLVED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE BUILDING.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 3

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DETERMINING THAT IT LACKED JURISDICTION TO PROVIDE A REMEDY TO APPELLANT.

         ASSIGNMENT ...


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