Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Van Wert
LBC LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, R. SCOTT LAING, PRINCIPAL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
GARY STEGAMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.
from Van Wert Municipal Court Trial Court No. CVG 1300607
N. Flower for Appellant
Plaintiff-appellant LBC Limited Partnership ("LBC")
appeals the May 11, 2016 judgment entry of the Van Wert
Municipal Court finding that LBC breached the implied
warranty of habitability and awarding each party $450.00.
(Doc. No. 16). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
According to the testimony of Scott Laing
("Laing"), this case stems from an oral rental
agreement entered into in April of 2013 concerning 209
Westfield Drive in Middle Point, Ohio. (March 26, 2014 Tr. at
15-19). Laing testified that, under that agreement, tenant
Gary Stegaman ("Stegaman"), was to pay LBC $650.00
monthly, plus a $100.00 late fee in the event he failed to
tender the rent timely. (Id. at 15). Rent was to be
paid monthly. (Id. at 17); (Id. at 19).
On October 13, 2013, LBC filed a complaint in which it
alleged three claims. In Count One, LBC sought the eviction
of Stegaman. (Doc. No. 1). In Count Two, LBC sought rent unpaid
for July, August, and September of 2013, all future unpaid
rents, as well as any fees and damages to the property that
may be discovered subsequently. (Id.). In Count
Three, LBC seems to seek funds which were collected by
Stegaman on LBC's behalf but which Stegaman never paid to
LBC. (Id.). The complaint requested damages in
excess of $1, 350.00 and any other relief the court deemed
Stegaman filed an answer on November 15, 2013 in which he
claimed that the relief LBC requested was not appropriate
because LBC still owed him money. (Doc. No. 3). That same
day, Stegaman filed a counterclaim against Laing for $16,
035.22 for the cost of windows, doors, having a lease
agreement drawn up, money owed for past services rendered, a
water heater, landscaping rocks, and punitive damages.
(Id.). On December 17, 2013, LBC filed an answer to
the counterclaim in which it denied the allegations that
formed the basis of Stegaman's counterclaim and asserted
that Stegaman failed to state a cause of action on which
relief could be granted. (Doc. No. 8).
Count One of LBC's complaint was resolved by agreement of
the parties. (Nov. 13, 2013 Tr. at 26-28). The trial court
heard Counts Two and Three of LBC's complaint, as well as
Stegaman's counterclaim, at a hearing on March 26, 2014.
(March 26, 2014 Tr. at 5). The trial court issued its
judgment entry on May 11, 2016. (Doc. No. 16). The trial
court found for LBC as to Count Two for cleanup costs in the
amount of $450.00, and the trial court found for Stegaman as
to the damages related to the installation of windows at his
property in the amount of $450.00. (Doc. No. 16). LBC filed
its notice of appeal on June 10, 2016. LBC brings three
assignments of error for our review. For ease of discussion,
we will address the second and third assignments of error
together, followed by the first assignment of error.
of Error No. II
trial court erred in determining that Plaintiff was only
entitled to four hundred and fifty dollars ($450.00) for
total damages to the rental property when his costs to
restore the property exceeded the awarded damages and
Defendant failed to maintain the property throughout the
tenure of his lease agreement for said property.
of Error No. III
trial court erred in determining that Plaintiff was not
entitled to any amount of delinquent rent from Defendant, as
Defendant had not paid rent for the months of September
through December 2013, despite still having his personal
belongings on the property and expressly stating that he
needed three more weeks to vacate.
In its second assignment of error, LBC argues that the trial
court erred in awarding it only $450.00 for damages to the
rental property when the cost to restore the property
exceeded that figure and Stegaman failed to maintain the
property during his tenancy. (Appellant's Brief at 16).
Specifically, LBC argues that the property where Stegaman
lived required extensive rehabilitation after his departure,
including trash removal and dumping at a cost of $195.00,
$290.00 to purchase and install a new water heater and the
attendant plumbing, $55.00 to repair a drain, $40.57 to
replace a kitchen sink, and numerous other expenses far
exceeding the damage award. (Appellant's Brief at 16-17).
LBC argues that it should have been awarded its actual
damages. (Id. at 17).
In its third assignment of error, LBC argues that the trial
court erred in determining that LBC was not entitled to
delinquent rent from Stegaman. Specifically, LBC argues that
Stegaman paid no rent for the months of September through
December of 2013 despite having his belongings on the
property, thus preventing LBC from renting the property to
other would-be tenants. (Id. at 18). Thus, LBC
argues that it is entitled to rent for the period between
September and December of 2013. (Id.).
We review damage calculations on an abuse-of-discretion
standard. Roberts v. United States Fid. & Guar.
Co., 75 Ohio St.3d 630, 634 (1996). The term "abuse
of discretion" refers to a decision that is
"arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable."
Sandusky Properties v. Aveni, 15 Ohio St.3d 273, 275
(1984), citing Dayton ex rel. Scandrick v. McGee, 67
Ohio St.2d 356, 359 (1981) and State v. Adams, 62
Ohio St.2d 151, 157 (1980). An abuse of discretion results
"only when no reasonable man could take the view adopted
by the trial court." Pembaur v. Leis, 1 Ohio
St.3d 89, 92 (1982).
The record reflects Stegaman's testimony that he had an
agreement with Laing according to which Stegaman would
receive credit toward his own rent if he did work on
LBC's behalf and kept an accounting of the work he did.
(March 26, 2014 Tr. at 25). Stegaman testified that, under
that agreement, he was to find tenants for Laing's
various properties and, if he did, he would receive a credit
against his own rent equal to one month worth of rent for the
tenants he had located. (Id. at 26). Stegaman
testified that, for the months in which LBC claims he did not
pay rent, he did work for ...