Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
ANDREW P. PHILBIN, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS
CITY OF CLEVELAND, OHIO, ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
APPELLANTS Andrew P. Philbin, pro se Luis S. Sandoval, pro se
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES Barbara A. Langhenry City of
Cleveland Director of Law By: Carolyn M. Downey Assistant
Director of Law
Vine Court Townhomes, L.L.C. Jordan Berns Berns, Ockner &
BEFORE: Celebrezze, J., Keough, P.J., and Blackmon, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
D.CELEBREZZE, JR, JUDGE
Appellants, Andrew Philbin and Luis Sandoval, take issue with
the dismissal of their appeal of a decision of the city of
Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals ("BZA"),
affirming a decision of the city of Cleveland Landmarks
Commission (the "Landmarks Commission"). The common
pleas court dismissed the appeal for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. After a thorough review of the record and law,
this court reverses and remands.
Factual and Procedural History
The Landmarks Commission reviewed plans for the construction
of a nine-unit building in a historic district within the
Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland submitted by Vine Court
Townhomes, L.L.C. ("Vine Court"). Vine Court sought
a certificate of appropriateness from the Landmarks
Commission. The commission imposed several requirements, but
issued a certificate of appropriateness on November 7, 2016.
An adjoining neighbor to the project, Carol Vang, filed an
appeal to the BZA. She was the only party to file a notice of
appeal, and the notice listed her as the only appellant.
However, appellants participated in the hearing and offered
testimony. The BZA upheld the issuance of the certificate on
January 30, 2017.
Following this determination, appellants filed a notice of
appeal from that decision with the common pleas court on
March 1, 2017. Appellees, Vine Court and the city of
Cleveland (the "city"), responded by filing motions
On April 12, 2017, the trial court granted the motions to
dismiss, finding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction
over the appeal because the BZA lacked jurisdiction to hear
an appeal from a decision of the Landmarks Commission that
did not include a request for a zoning variance.
Following the dismissal of the appeal, appellants appealed to
this court, assigning one error for review:
The trial court erred in dismissing the administrative appeal
of appellants * * * as the [BZA] has subject matter
jurisdiction to hear appeals from decisions regarding
Certificates of Appropriateness granted or denied by the City
of Cleveland, Ohio Landmarks Commission.
Law and Analysis
This appeal concerns the appropriate reviewing body for
decisions of the Landmarks Commission. Appellants assert that
the appropriate body is the BZA, while the city and Vine
Court maintain that it is the Board of Building Standards and
Building Appeals ("BSBA") where the case does not
involve a variance from applicable zoning regulations.
"Subject-matter jurisdiction is the power of a court to
entertain and adjudicate a particular class of cases."
Bank of Am., N.A. v. Kuchta, 141 Ohio St.3d 75,
2014-Ohio-4275, 21 N.E.3d 1040, ¶ 19, citing
Morrison v. Steiner, 32 Ohio St.2d 86, 87, 290
N.E.2d 841 (1972). The Kuchta court went on to
distinguish subject-matter jurisdiction from the jurisdiction
of a court to preside over a particular matter:
A court's subject-matter jurisdiction is determined
without regard to the rights of the individual parties
involved in a particular case. State ex rel Tubbs Jones
v. Suster, 84 Ohio St.3d 70, 75, 701 N.E.2d 1002 (1998);
Handy v. Ins. Co., 37 Ohio St. 366, 370 (1881). A
court's jurisdiction over a particular case refers to the
court's authority to proceed or rule on a case that is
within the court's subject-matter jurisdiction.
Pratts [v. Hurley, 102 Ohio St.3d 81,
2004-Ohio-1980, 806 N.E.2d 992');">806 N.E.2d 992, ] ¶ 12. This latter
jurisdictional category involves consideration of the rights
of the parties. If a court possesses subject-matter
jurisdiction, any error in the invocation or exercise of
jurisdiction over a particular case causes a judgment to be
voidable rather than void. Id. . at ¶ 12.
question of subject-matter jurisdiction is a question of law,
subject to a de novo review on appeal." Cuyahoga
Cty. Bd. of Cty. Commrs. v. Daroczy, 178 Ohio App.3d
625, 2008-Ohio-5491, 899 N.E.2d 1017, ¶ 4 (8th Dist).
Here, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court has
subject-matter jurisdiction over administrative appeals from
the BZA. R.C. 2506.01; see also Kurtock v.
Cleveland Bd. of Zoning Appeals, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No.
100266, 2014-Ohio-1836. The BZA heard Vang's appeal,
finding that it had jurisdiction to hear an appeal from the
Landmarks Commission. Pursuant to R.C. 2506.01, the common
pleas court had subject-matter jurisdiction over an appeal
from the BZA. Therefore, the court erred in holding that it
did not. But that does not answer the question of whether the
trial court erred in dismissing the appeal for lack of
jurisdiction over the particular case.
Jurisdiction Over the Matter
The Cleveland Charter, Section 76-6(d) outlines the