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Young v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation And Correction

Court of Claims of Ohio

December 29, 2017

CHAD YOUNG Plaintiff
v.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION Defendant

          Sent to S.C. Reporter 1/11/18

          DECISION

          PATRICK M. MCGRATH Judge.

         {¶1} Before the court are (1) written objections filed on October 30, 2017 by defendant Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to Magistrate Gary Peterson's decision of September 6, 2017, (2) plaintiff Chad Young's response to ODRC's objections filed on November 7, 2017, (3) ODRC's "Motion For Leave To File A Reply And To Utilize Alternate Technology In Support of Its Objections" filed on December 8, 2017, (4) ODRC's reply in support of its objections filed on December 8, 2017, (5) Young's motion to strike ODRC's reply in support of its objections filed on December 13, 2017, and (6) Young's response to ODRC's motion for leave to file a reply and to utilize technology in support of its objections filed on December 13, 2017.

         {¶2} For reasons set forth below, the court determines that (1) ODRC's objections of October 30, 2017 should be overruled, (2) ODRC's motion for leave to file a reply and to utilize alternate technology in support of its objections filed on December 8, 2017 should be denied, (3) Young's motion of December 13, 2017 to strike ODRC's reply should be granted, (4) ODRC's reply in support of its objections filed on December 8, 2017 should be stricken, and (5) the magistrate's decision, including the findings of fact and conclusions of law contained in it, should be adopted.

         I. Background

         {¶3} On October 9, 2015, Young filed a complaint alleging negligence against ODRC. Young's complaint stems from an injury that Young sustained while he worked in a carpentry shop at the Lebanon Correctional Institution (LeCI).

         {¶4} The court, through Magistrate Gary Peterson, held a bench trial on the issue of liability. On September 6, 2017, Magistrate Peterson issued a decision wherein he stated:

a. Upon review of the evidence, the magistrate finds that on July 23, 2015, plaintiff, while using a miter saw to complete a cabinet, severed the tips of his index and middle fingers of his left hand. The magistrate further finds that defendant failed to properly train plaintiff on the use of the miter saw. There is no dispute that [David Books, formerly employed as a maintenance repair worker at LeCI] failed to document any training he claimed to have provided to plaintiff. * * *

(Magistrate Decision, 10-11). The magistrate also stated: "Given the inconsistent statements in the incident report authored by [Tyler Dennis, building construction superintendent at LeCI] and in Books' testimony at trial, the magistrate finds Books' testimony at trial to lack credibility." (Magistrate Decision, 11.) The magistrate further stated: "The magistrate finds that even though plaintiff was not properly trained on the use of the saw, he should have known that by placing his fingers on the blade track and exposing his fingers to the blade, he was creating an unreasonable risk of harm for his own personal safety. * * * The magistrate finds that plaintiff failed to use reasonable care for his own safety by failing to keep his hands free of the track for the blade, thus exposing his fingers to the blade, and that such a failure to use reasonable care proximately caused the accident. Given plaintiff's lack of training, the magistrate finds that plaintiff's own failure to use reasonable care did not exceed the negligence of defendant's." (Magistrate Decision, 12-13.) The magistrate rejected ODRC's contention that Young intentionally severed his fingers in order to file a lawsuit and obtain a damages award. (Magistrate's Decision, 14.) And the magistrate concluded: "Based upon the foregoing, and weighing plaintiffs comparative negligence against that of defendant, the magistrate finds that plaintiff has proven his claim of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. It is recommended that a judgment be entered in favor of plaintiff, with a 40 percent diminishment in any award for compensatory damages." (Magistrate's Decision, 14.).

         {¶5} After Magistrate Peterson issued his decision, ODRC twice moved the court for an extension of time to file objections to the magistrate's decision. The court granted ODRC's motions for an extension of time.

         {¶6} On October 30, 2017, ODRC filed written objections, urging this court to find that "Young's actions and inactions were the sole proximate cause of his injury, or at the very least 51% of the cause of his injury; thus judgment should be rendered in favor of DRC. The objections * * * challenge the application of the law to the facts presented in this case." ODRC presents ten objections for the court's consideration:

Objection 1: The Magistrate erred in failing to find that Young's testimony lacked credibility.
Objection 2: The Magistrate erred in finding Book's testimony lacked credibility.
Objection 3: The Magistrate erred in finding that DRC breached a duty to properly train Young.
Objection 4: The Magistrate erred in holding that the alleged failure to train proximately caused Young's injury.
Objection 5: The Magistrate erred in finding that Books owed Young a duty to observe the manner in which Young was making the cuts that day.
Objection 6: The Magistrate erred in finding that Books [sic] alleged failure to supervise Young on July 23, 2015 was a proximate cause of the injury.
Objection 7: The Magistrate erred in finding that Young's negligence was not the sole proximate cause of his injury, or at least 51% of the cause of his injury.
Objection 8: The Magistrate erred in failing to follow this Court's precedent in Richmond.
Objection [9]: The Magistrate erred in failing to allow testimony of Young's prior statement.
Objection [10]: The Magistrate erred in failing to find that Young intentionally cut off his fingers.

         ODRC has not filed a transcript of the proceedings before the magistrate or an affidavit of evidence in support of its objections. In its objections, ODRC states: "To the extent possible, DRC will rely upon the factual findings of the magistrate; however, where necessary, DRC respectfully ...


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