Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
OURANIA A. KARRAS Plaintiff-Appellant
ANASTASIOS KARRAS Defendant-Appellee
Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No.
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
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.
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.
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
THE TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY GRANTED TOM'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT WHEN IT MISCONSTRUED THE WORD