Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Mahoning
Appeal from Court of Common Pleas of Mahoning County, Ohio
Case No. 15 CV 2213
Plaintiff-Appellee Attorney Nicole Alexander City of
Defendant-Appellant Wayman E. Washington, Pro se
JUDGES: Hon. Gene Donofrio, Hon. Cheryl L. Waite, Hon. Carol
Defendant-appellant, Wayman Washington, appeals the Mahoning
County Court of Common Pleas' judgment in his favor for
nominal damages on his due process violation claim following
a bench trial.
Appellant is the owner of real property located at 27-29 W.
Boston Avenue in Youngstown, Ohio. On March 26, 2002,
plaintiff-appellee, the City of Youngstown, issued a raze or
repair order for the property, which at the time was not yet
owned by appellant. The order specified that if the property
was not repaired within 30 days, then the property would be
razed at the owner's expense. But the property was not
razed or repaired in 2002. Appellant purchased the property
on October 29, 2004.
Beginning in 2008, the city began issuing supplemental raze
or repair orders for appellant's property. The last
orders were issued on May 25, 2010 and June 10, 2010. The May
25, 2010 order was mailed to appellant at 728 Mill Street in
Youngstown, Ohio. While the order was sent via certified
mail, according to appellant, it was returned undeliverable.
On June 10, 2010, the city placed a notice on the property
itself and sent via mail another notice. According to
appellant, this notice was also returned undeliverable. As
the building on the property was never repaired, the city
subsequently demolished the building in 2012.
On March 28, 2014, the city filed this action in the
Youngstown Municipal Court against appellant seeking $9,
719.80 for the costs of the demolition. By the time this
action was initiated, appellant was incarcerated in the
Richland Correctional Institute. Appellant answered the
city's complaint and filed a counterclaim seeking $50,
000.00 in damages on the basis that his due process rights
were violated as he was not properly notified of the
demolition proceedings against his property. This action was
transferred to the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas on
the basis that appellant's counterclaim exceeded the
jurisdictional limit of the Youngstown Municipal Court.
Throughout the discovery phase, appellant filed five separate
sets of discovery requests, four amended answers, and three
amended counterclaims. Eventually, both parties filed for
summary judgment on their claims. The trial court denied both
motions for summary judgment. After the trial court denied
both motions for summary judgment, appellant filed a motion
to continue the bench trial for 120 days. The trial court
denied that motion and ruled that the matter was still
scheduled for a bench trial on December 5, 2016 in front of a
At the conclusion of the trial, the magistrate decided that
the city did violate appellant's due process rights by
failing to properly notify him of the demolition proceedings.
But appellant failed to present evidence about any damages he
sustained at trial due to his incarceration at the Richland
Correctional Institute. The magistrate ultimately recommended
nominal damages of one dollar in favor of appellant. After
the bench trial, appellant filed a motion for extension of
time to file objections to the magistrate's decision. The
trial court granted appellant's extension and gave him 30
days to file any objections. Appellant filed objections to
the magistrate's decision on December 29, 2016 and the
city responded approximately two weeks later. On February 2,
2017, the trial court overruled appellant's objections
and adopted the magistrate's decision to award appellant
one dollar in damages.
Appellant then filed a motion for a new trial on March 6,
2017. The trial court denied this motion on March 27, 2017.
Appellant timely filed this appeal on April 21, 2017.
Appellant now raises four assignments of error.
Appellant's first assignment of error states:
THE TRIAL JUDGE ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT DENIED
WASHINGTON AN OPPORTUNITY TO FILE AN OBJECTION AFTER THE CASE
WAS REFERRED TO THE ...