Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Lake
THOMAS P. BEERS, Relator,
HONORABLE COLLEEN A. FALKOWSKI, et al., Respondents.
Action for Writ of Prohibition.
K. Simakis, G.K. Simakis & Associates, OH 44109 (For
Charles E. Coulson, Lake County Prosecutor, and Eric A.
Condon, Assistant Prosecutor, Lake County Administration
Building, (For Respondents).
This matter is before this court on the March 20, 2017
application for writ of prohibition and the May 18, 2017
amended application for writ of prohibition filed by relator,
Thomas P. Beers, against respondents, Judge Colleen A.
Falkowski, Magistrate Lynne Yohe, and Magistrate Margaret
Relator's claim for relief is predicated upon the
following factual background involving a domestic relations
matter: relator and Shannon Beers were married on October 27,
2001; two children were born as issue of the marriage, B.B.
(d.o.b. June 16, 2005) and M.B. (d.o.b. October 17, 2007);
Shannon filed a complaint for divorce on August 23, 2013;
relator filed an answer and counterclaim for divorce on
September 20, 2013; the cause came on for hearing for final
trial on May 6, 7, and 15, 2015; the trial court adopted a
final judgment entry of divorce on April 18, 2016; relator
contends the divorce decree was faulty and unclear, yet
neither party filed an appeal; Shannon filed a motion to show
cause on August 11, 2016; on February 1, 2017, the trial
court scheduled a trial (hearing) for March 20, 2017 on the
motion to show cause; on the date of the hearing, relator
filed his March 20, 2017 application for writ of prohibition;
the hearing went forward; and the magistrate issued a
decision on April 6, 2017 finding and concluding that relator
is in civil contempt, with included purge conditions, for
nonpayment of $7, 435.03.
In response to the prohibition petition, respondents filed a
motion to dismiss on April 7, 2017, pursuant to Civ.R.
12(B)(6), contending that relator has failed to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. On April 20, 2017, relator
filed objections to the magistrate's decision. On May 18,
2017, relator filed a response in opposition to
respondents' motion to dismiss and an amended application
for writ of prohibition to prevent the trial court from
enforcing the magistrate's April 6, 2017 decision.
This court stated in State ex rel. Caszatt v.
Gibson, 11th Dist. Lake No. 2012-L-107, 2013-Ohio-213,
"A writ of prohibition can only be issued where the
relator establishes that: (1) a judicial officer or court
intends to exercise judicial power over a pending matter; (2)
the proposed use of that power is unauthorized under the law;
and (3) the denial of the writ will result in harm for which
there is no other adequate remedy in the ordinary course of
the law. State ex rel. Florence v. Zitter, 106 Ohio
St.3d 87, * * *, 2005-Ohio-3804, ¶14; State ex rel.
Sliwinski v. Unruh, 118 Ohio St.3d 76, * * *,
2008-Ohio-1734, ¶7. A writ of prohibition is a legal
order under which a court of superior jurisdiction enjoins a
court of inferior jurisdiction from exceeding the general
scope of its inherent authority. State ex rel. Feathers
v. Hayes, 11th Dist. No. 2006-P-0092, 2007-Ohio-3852,
¶9; State ex rel. Tubbs Jones v. Suster, 84
Ohio St.3d 70 * * * (1998). The writ is an extraordinary
remedy which should not be issued in a routine manner.
State ex rel. The Leatherworks Partnership v.
Stuard, 11th Dist. No. 2002-T-0017, 2002-Ohio-6477,
¶15." (Parallel citations omitted.)
In this case, relator alleges that respondents were about to
exercise, and did exercise, jurisdiction in the underlying
action by holding the March 20, 2017 hearing. As a result,
relator's allegation is legally sufficient to satisfy the
first element of a prohibition claim. Caszatt,
supra, at ¶15; Leatherworks, supra, at
¶16. Accordingly, the outcome of our analysis as to the
sufficiency of relator's request for prohibition will
turn upon whether his allegation can satisfy the second and
third elements of such a claim.
"[T]he initial issue which must be addressed in regard
to the second and third elements is whether the alleged
jurisdictional defect is patent and unambiguous. * * * [I]f
there are no set of facts under which a trial court or judge
could have jurisdiction over a particular case, the alleged
jurisdictional defect will always be considered patent and
unambiguous. On the other hand, if the court or judge
generally has subject matter jurisdiction over the type of
case in question and his authority to hear that specific
action will depend on the specific facts before him, the
jurisdictional defect is not obvious and the court/judge
should be allowed to decide the jurisdictional issue."
Leatherworks, supra, at ¶19.
We note that respondents, as sitting members of a county
common pleas court, generally have subject matter
jurisdiction to hear and rule on a case such as the instant.
The alleged jurisdictional defect in this action, as asserted
by relator in his petitions, is not patent and unambiguous.
However, since the March 20, 2017 hearing went forward and a
magistrate's decision was rendered, if respondents made
an improper decision, relator has an adequate remedy at law
because he can file an appeal from a final judgment of the
trial court. See, e.g., Leatherworks, supra, at
¶14. Thus, because an adequate legal remedy exists,
relator fails to establish that he is entitled to a writ of
Accordingly, it is the order of this court that
respondents' motion to dismiss is granted. Relator's