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Ibold v. Wharton

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Athens

December 28, 2017

CATHERINE IBOLD, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
JOHN WHARTON, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

          Kenneth E. Ryan, Ryan Law Office Co., L.P.A., Athens, Ohio, for Appellants.

          Kimberlee J. Francis, Center For Student Legal Services, Athens, Ohio, for Appellees.

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

          MATTHEW W. McFARLAND, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Appellants, John Wharton and University Off Campus Housing, appeal from a judgment issued by the Athens County Municipal Court granting judgment in favor of Appellees, Catherine Ibold, Halle Simonetti, and Alexandra Dighero, in the amount of $3, 264.00. On appeal, Appellants contend that 1) the trial court committed reversible error by granting Appellees' motion to reconsider judgment after granting judgment pursuant to the hearing on the merits; 2) the trial court committed reversible error by reversing its own judgment and ignoring the local rules regarding the preparation and filing of judgment entries; 3) the trial court committed reversible error by granting judgment that ignored proper motion procedure for filing of motions; 4) the trial court committed reversible error by improperly applying the doctrine of stare decisis; and 5) the trial court committed reversible error by finding judgment against Appellants with respect to plaintiffs who had been dismissed with prejudice prior to the hearing on the merits.

         {¶2} Because the entry appealed from does not constitute a final appealable order, we lack jurisdiction to review the merits of this appeal. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

         FACTS

         {¶3} Appellants, John Wharton and University Off Campus Housing, are the owners of residential property located at 82 ½ N. Court Street, Athens, Ohio. The premises was rented by Appellees, Catherine Ibold, Halle Simonetti, Alexandra Dighero, as well as three others who were previously dismissed with prejudice from this litigation, Hanna Hrach, Alyson Rowe and Sarah Leach. According to the written lease, the lease term began May 11, 2014, and ended May 2, 2015. On February 4, 2016, Appellees, along with Hanna Hrach, Alyson Rowe and Sarah Leach, filed a complaint in the Small Claims Division of Athens County Municipal Court alleging wrongful withholding of a security deposit by the landlord, in the amount of $1, 632.00 for non-discounted rent, $329.00 for cleaning and $242.00 for damages. Without going into details that are not pertinent to our disposition of this matter on appeal, the litigation involved a discounted rent provision in the lease which provided that the six tenants were entitled to discounted rent for each installment if they paid in full on or before the third day of April, August and December during the lease term. A problem arose when Catherine Ibold did not pay her August rent installment until August 4, 2014, which prompted a disqualification of rent letter to be sent to the tenants advising them they owed an additional $1.632.00 by August 20, 2014. The case was subsequently transferred to the Civil Court docket of the Athens Municipal Court. The litigation proceeded through discovery, with original plaintiffs, Hanna Hrach, Alyson Rowe and Sarah Leach being dismissed with prejudice at their request prior to a bench trial.

         {¶4} After hearing the evidence and testimony presented, the trial court orally ruled, on the record in open court, in favor of Appellants on December 1, 2016. Appellees filed a motion for reconsideration on December 2, 2016, referencing a decision of the court issued twelve years prior which involved John Wharton. Appellants filed a memorandum in opposition to Appellees' motion for reconsideration on December 8, 2016. Later in the day on December 8, 2016, the trial court issued a decision and journal entry vacating its prior verbal order and granting judgment in favor of Appellees. Appellants thereafter filed a motion for reconsideration, to which Appellees objected and the trial court denied. It is from the trial court's December 8, 2016, written order that Appellants now bring their appeal, setting forth five assignments of error for our review.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

         "I. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY GRANTING PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES' MOTION TO RECONSIDER JUDGMENT AFTER GRANTING JUDGMENT PURSUANT TO THE HEARING ON THE MERITS.

         II. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY REVERSING ITS OWN JUDGMENT AND IGNORING THE LOCAL RULES REGARDING THE PREPARATION AND FILING OF JUDGMENT ENTRIES.

         III. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY GRANTING JUDGMENT THAT IGNORED PROPER MOTION PROCEDURE FOR FILING OF MOTIONS.

         IV. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY IMPROPERLY APPLYING THE DOCTRINE OF STARE DECISIS.

         V. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY FINDING JUDGMENT AGAINST DEFENDANT/APPELLANTS WITH RESPECT TO PLAINTIFFS WHO HAD BEEN DISMISSED WITH ...


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