Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

James v. Esterle

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

November 20, 2017

KATHRYN JAMES Appellant
v.
DANIEL ESTERLE Appellee

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. D00014812

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and JENNIFER GOUDALL, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellant.

          BRANDON OLIVER, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          THOMAS A. TEODOSIO, JUDGE.

         {¶1} The Lorain County Child Support Enforcement Agency ("CSEA") appeals the judgment entry of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, rejecting the magistrate's decision, dismissing the motion to show cause, and finding the trial court was without jurisdiction to hold Daniel Esterle in contempt for failure to pay on a lumpsum judgment. We reverse and remand.

         I.

         {¶2} In April 2006, a magistrate's decision, which was adopted by the trial court in July 2006, reduced to a lump-sum judgment Mr. Esterle's unpaid child support arrearages in the amount of $35, 522.09. The State of Ohio filed a motion in contempt against Mr. Esterle for his failure to pay child support, and in December 2015, a magistrate's decision found Mr. Esterle in contempt and sentenced him to 90 days in jail. The trial court conducted a hearing on Mr. Esterle's objection to the magistrate's decision, and in June 2016, entered a judgment rejecting the magistrate's decision and dismissing the contempt proceedings. The CSEA now appeals, raising one assignment of error.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR ONE

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRORED AS A MATTER OF LAW AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT DISMISSED THE MOTION IN CONTEMPT FOR FAILURE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT AGAINST DEFENDANT, DANIEL ESTERLE.

         {¶3} The CSEA argues the trial court erred in dismissing the contempt proceedings against Mr. Esterle. We agree.

         {¶4} The CSEA contends the trial court incorrectly applied Article I, Section 15, of the Ohio Constitution, which prohibits a court from imprisoning a person for a debt in a civil action, to the lump-sum judgment against Mr. Esterle. "[W]hether the trial court made an error as a matter of law in applying the incorrect legal standard is a question that we review de novo." State v. Moss, 9th Dist. Summit No. 24511, 2009-Ohio-3866, ¶ 8. "When a court's judgment is based on an erroneous interpretation of the law, an abuse-of-discretion standard is not appropriate." Med. Mut. of Ohio v. Schlotterer, 122 Ohio St.3d 181, 2009-Ohio-2496, ¶ 13. Therefore, this is not a review of a trial court's finding in a contempt action that would be reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See Morrow v. Becker, 9th Dist. Medina No. 11CA0066-M, 2012-Ohio-3875, ¶ 47.

         {¶5} The trial court found that because the child support arrearages were reduced to a lump-sum judgment, and no further arrears had accumulated since that judgment, it was a civil debt for which imprisonment is prohibited under Article I, Section 15, of the Ohio Constitution, which provides: "No person shall be imprisoned for debt in any civil action, on mesne or final process, unless in cases of fraud." In its analysis, the trial court stated that the Supreme Court of

          Ohio's holding in Young v. Young, 70 Ohio St.3d 679 (1994), which was based upon the authority of Cramer v. Petrie,70 Ohio St.3d 131 (1994), was "narrower than it appears, " and "upholds the use of imprisonment for contempt to enforce only those child support arrearages that have not been reduced to a lump sum judgment." In support of this proposition, the trial ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.