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Woods v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

February 15, 2018

Jeffery Woods, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee.

         APPEAL from the Court of Claims of Ohio (Ct. of Cl. No. 2016-00279)

         On brief:

          Jeffery Woods, pro se.

          Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Miller, for appellee.

          DECISION

          LUPER SCHUSTER, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Jeffery Woods, pro se, appeals from a judgment entry of the Court of Claims of Ohio adopting the magistrate's decision concluding Woods failed to prove his negligence claim against defendant-appellee, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("DRC"). For the following reasons, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} Woods is an inmate at the Marion Correctional Institution ("MCI"). On April 4, 2016, Woods filed a negligence complaint against DRC. After obtaining leave of court, Woods then filed an amended complaint against DRC on June 8, 2016. In the amended complaint, Woods alleged DRC, through its agent Aramark Corporation, served Woods an undercooked brownie, causing Woods to become constipated. DRC filed an answer on June 23, 2016 denying any negligence.

         {¶ 3} At a trial conducted before a magistrate on March 16, 2017 on the issue of liability only, the magistrate heard testimony from Woods as well as from Raymond Hall, another inmate at MCI; Doug O'Dell, a corrections officer at MCI; and Anthony Franklin, an employee of Aramark Corporation who supervises the kitchen at MCI. Following the trial, the magistrate issued a decision on May 15, 2017 recommending judgment in favor of DRC. The magistrate concluded Woods failed to prove his negligence claim by a preponderance of the evidence. More specifically, the magistrate concluded Woods failed to prove DRC breached any duty owed to Woods or that Woods' consumption of the allegedly under-baked brownie was the proximate cause of his constipation.

         {¶ 4} Woods filed objections to the magistrate's decision on May 30, 2017, challenging the magistrate's factual conclusions. Specifically, Woods asserted in his objections that the testimony demonstrated that DRC did not provide Woods with a fully cooked brownie and that the magistrate erroneously construed an admission from Woods that he took medication that made him constipated. Woods filed a personal affidavit along with his objections, but he did not file a transcript of the testimony before the magistrate. DRC responded with a motion to strike Woods' objections on June 30, 2017, arguing Woods' objections did not satisfy the requirements of an affidavit of evidence under Civ.R. 53(D)(3)(b)(iii) and noting Woods failed to file a transcript of the evidence.

         {¶ 5} In an August 2, 2017 judgment entry, the trial court noted that Woods did not file a transcript and therefore concluded that there was no error of law or other defect evident on the face of the magistrate's decision. Thus, the trial court overruled Woods' objections. The trial court then stated it was granting DRC's motion to strike the objections, adopted the magistrate's decision as its own, and entered judgment in favor of DRC. Woods timely appeals.

         II. Assignments of Error

         {¶ 6} Woods assigns the following errors for our review:

[1.] The trial court commited prejudicial error when the court overrule the plaintiff written objection to the magistrate decision for failure to provide trial hearing transcripts to support the plaintiff objection to the ...

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