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DeCrane v. Eckart

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

February 21, 2018

SEAN DeCRANE, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWARD ECKART, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court upon the Motion (ECF DKT #20) of Plaintiff, Sean DeCrane, to Certify a Question of Ohio Law to the Ohio Supreme Court. For the following reasons, the Motion is denied.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a retired City of Cleveland Division of Fire Battalion Chief. He alleges that Assistant Safety Director Edward Eckart, along with James Votypka and Christopher Chumita, repeatedly retaliated against him based on the mistaken belief that Plaintiff disclosed to a reporter that a previous fire chief lacked the required continuing education to maintain his professional certification. Allegedly, the retaliation included: repeated failures to promote him; seizing the Fire Training Academy's records while Plaintiff served as Director of Training; making false allegations against him about deficient record-keeping; trying to have him criminally prosecuted; concocting false administrative charges against him; delaying a state audit that would have cleared him; relaying false information to the media; ignoring his emails and refusing to meet with him; trying to outsource training activities; and trying to damage his reputation and career.

         On October 31, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against the City, Eckart, Votypka and Chumita for: (1) First and Fourteenth Amendment Retaliation under § 1983; (2) False Light Invasion of Privacy (Eckart); and (3) a state-law claim for Intimidation under R.C. § 2921.03 (Eckart, Votypka and Chumita).

         After the City dismissed the pending administrative charges, Plaintiff filed an Amended and Supplemental Complaint updating his allegations on January 31, 2017. Defendants answered.

         On April 21, 2017, the individual Defendants moved for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings, arguing that the Intimidation claim against them cannot be maintained because Plaintiff did not plead that Defendants were charged with or convicted of the state-law crime of Intimidation. (ECF DKT #13).

         Plaintiff opposed the Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings and moved for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint. (ECF DKT #15). Plaintiff sought to add a claim for Civil Liability for Criminal Acts under R.C. § 2307.60.

         Defendants opposed the Motion for Leave to Amend on the basis of futility, i.e., Eckart, Votypka, and Chumita have never been charged with, plead guilty to, or been convicted of any criminal offense related to this matter.

         On February 16, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint and denied Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings as moot.

         On June 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion (ECF DKT #20) to Certify, insisting that whether a conviction is required to maintain a civil claim under R.C. § 2307.60(A)(1) is a question of Ohio law that is vital to Plaintiff's case. Plaintiff presses the Court to certify the following question to the Ohio Supreme Court pursuant to Rule 9.01 of the Ohio Supreme Court Rules of Practice:

To prevail on a claim under R.C. § 2307.60(A)(1), must a plaintiff prove that the defendant has been convicted of the criminal acts that form the basis for the claim?

         Both Plaintiff and Defendants have directed the Court's attention to the relevant state and federal case law on this issue.

         II. ...


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