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Karras v. Karras

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

February 9, 2018

OURANIA A. KARRAS Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
ANASTASIOS KARRAS Defendant-Appellee

         Civil Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 15-CV-5456

          GREGORY E. HULL, Atty. Reg. No. 0023520 and JAMES PAPAKIRK, Atty. Reg. No. 0063862, Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant

          LAURENCE LASKY, Atty. Reg. No. 002959, Attorney for Defendant-Appellee

          OPINION

          TUCKER, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Ourania A. Karras, appeals from the trial court's decision of April 27, 2017, in which the court entered judgment on her claim for unpaid rent in favor of Defendant-appellee, Anastasios Karras. Raising two assignments of error, Appellant argues that: (1) the court interpreted her complaint too narrowly when it found that she had neither established her right to recover rent from Appellee, nor stated a claim for damages based upon Appellee's alleged interference with her life estate; and (2) the court should have found that Appellee admitted liability because his answer to the complaint did not satisfy the requirements of Civ.R. 8(B). We find that the trial court did not err, and we therefore affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} Pursuant to the terms of a trust, Appellant holds a life estate in the marital residence that she shared with her late husband, Andreas Karras. Decision Sustaining Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. and Overruling Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. 2, Apr. 27, 2017. Appellee, one of Andreas Karas's three adult children from a previous marriage, resided with his father and Appellant before his father died in May, 2013, and he continued to reside there after his father's death. See id. at 2-3. Disputes among Appellant, Appellee and Appellee's siblings over the implementation of the trust and the disposition of the trust's assets led to litigation in the Montgomery County Probate Court, beginning in May, 2014. Id. at 2.

         {¶ 3} On July 28, 2015, the probate court issued an entry resolving the parties' various claims. Id. In relevant part, the probate court held that the trust entitled Appellant to exclusive possession of her marital residence and that Appellee had no right to remain there. Id. Appellee did not vacate the residence, however, so Appellant filed her "Complaint for Forcible Detention [sic], Rent and Damages" in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas on October 16, 2015. See id. at 3. The complaint comprised two claims for relief-a claim for forcible entry and detainer, and a claim for "rent in an amount no less than $1, 000 for every month" Appellee lived in the residence "without permission, " plus statutory interest. See Compl. ¶ 18 and 23.

         {¶ 4} On March 31, 2016, the trial court adopted the magistrate's decision holding that Appellant was entitled to judgment on the pleadings on her first claim for relief. Decision Sustaining Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. and Overruling Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. 3. The court resolved the remaining claim, Appellant's claim for unpaid rent, in favor of Appellee in its decision of April 27, 2017. Appellant's timely appeal followed on May 27, 2017.

         II. Analysis

         {¶ 5} Both of Appellant's assignments of error concern the trial court's ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Under Civ.R. 56(C), summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith" when: (1) "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact"; (2) "the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law"; and (3) construing the evidence most strongly in favor of the non-moving party, "reasonable minds" could not conclude otherwise. See also Bonacorsi v. Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. Co., 95 Ohio St.3d 314, 2002-Ohio-2220, 767 N.E.2d 707, ¶ 24; Harless v. Willis Day Warehousing Co., 54 Ohio St.2d 64, 66, 375 N.E.2d 46 (1978). The movant initially bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Mitseff v. Wheeler, 38 Ohio St.3d 112, 115, 526 N.E.2d 798 (1988).

         {¶ 6} To meet this burden, the movant may rely only on those portions of the record properly before the court under Civ.R. 56(C). Dresher v. Burt, 75 Ohio St.3d 280, 292-293, 662 N.E.2d 264 (1996). If the movant meets its burden, then the non-moving party bears the reciprocal burden, as stated in Civ.R. 56(E), to establish specific facts showing genuine issues to be tried. Id. at 293. To satisfy its reciprocal burden, the non-moving party "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [the] pleading[s], but must set forth specific facts showing there is [at least one] genuine issue for trial." Chaney v. Clark County Agric. Soc, 90 Ohio App.3d 421, 424, 629 N.E.2d 513 (2d Dist.1993), citing Civ.R. 56(E), and Jackson v. Alert Fire & Safety Equip., 58 Ohio St.3d 48, 51, 567 N.E.2d 1027 (1991). Whether a fact is "material" depends on the substantive law of the claim being litigated. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Turner v. Turner, 67 Ohio St.3d 337, 340, 617 N.E.2d 1123 (1993). On appeal "an appellate court reviews a trial court's decision on a motion for summary judgment de novo." Herres v. Millwood Homeowners Ass'n, Inc., 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 23552, 2010-Ohio-3533, ¶ 17, citing Bonacorsi, 2002-Ohio-2220, ¶ 24.

         {¶ 7} For her first assignment of error, Appellant contends that:

THE TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY GRANTED TOM'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT WHEN IT MISCONSTRUED THE WORD ...

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