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Ohio Edison Co. v. Royer

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

January 10, 2018

OHIO EDISON COMPANY Appellant
v.
CHARLES ROYER Appellee

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE AKRON MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. 15CV05635

          STEPHEN J. PRUNESKI and BRANDON T. PAULEY, Attorneys at Law, for Appellant.

          DENISE M. HASBROOK and EMILY CIECKA WILCHECK, Attorneys at Law, for Appellant.

          MITCHELL M. TALLAN and LORI E. THOMSON, Attorneys at Law, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JULIE A. SCHAFER, Presiding Judge.

         {¶1} Plaintiff-Appellant, Ohio Edison Company, appeals the judgment of the Akron Municipal Court. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part, and reverse in part.

         I.

         {¶2} Ohio Edison filed a complaint against Defendant-Appellant, Charles D. Royer, alleging that Mr. Royer negligently operated his automobile and caused a collision that resulted in damage to Ohio Edison's property. Ohio Edison claimed that Mr. Royer's negligence caused damage to its utility pole located on Canton Road in Akron, Ohio. Ohio Edison claimed damages in the amount of $4, 112.76: the cost incurred to repair the damage to the utility's electrical distribution system by replacing the damaged pole.

         {¶3} Before proceeding to a bench trial, the parties entered joint stipulations upon the record. Mr. Royer stipulated to liability. The parties agreed that just two issues remained for the trial court to determine: (1) whether indirect costs Ohio Edison claimed due were properly calculated pursuant to law; and (2) what amount of the direct costs claimed due were properly recoverable as damages under Ohio law.

         {¶4} The matter proceeded to a bench trial on July 15, 2016, and, upon the conclusion of the proceedings, the trial judge took the matter under advisement. The trial court issued its judgment entry with findings of fact and conclusions of law on November 29, 2016. The court granted judgment in favor of Ohio Edison and against Mr. Royer in the amount of $1, 721.64, together with costs and statutory interest from the date of judgment.

         {¶5} Ohio Edison timely appeals the judgment entry, raising two assignments of error for our review.

         II.

         Assignment of Error I

         The trial court erred when it applied depreciation to Ohio Edison's repair costs.

         {¶6} In its first assignment of error, Ohio Edison argues the trial court erred when it depreciated Ohio Edison's repair costs. In the first instance, Ohio Edison contends that the court erred in depreciating any of its repair costs, arguing that it is entitled to recover its entire repair costs when an individual negligently damages its electric distribution system. Alternatively, Ohio Edison argues that depreciation should have been limited to the material costs of the utility pole, rather than depreciation of all of the repair costs.

         {¶7} Ohio Edison has confined this assignment of error to raise a pure question of law: whether the trial court erred in relying upon a legal standard to allow for depreciation of the amount of the repair costs awarded Ohio Edison as damages. Whether a "trial court correctly applied the law to the facts of a case presents a question of law, " and we apply a de novo standard of review to questions of law. Copley Twp. v. City of Fairlawn, 9th Dist. Summit Nos. 27010, 27012, 27040, 2015-Ohio-1121, ¶ 16; quoting Fuline v. Green, 9th Dist. Summit Nos. 25704, 25936, 2012-Ohio-2749, ¶ 6. Therefore, we consider the question of law without deference to the trial court's decision, while affording due deference to the findings of fact in the trial court's judgment. See Id. .

         A. Applicability ...


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