Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton
RONALD J. SOLOMON, D.D.S., INC., d.b.a. CORNERSTONE DENTAL GROUP, Plaintiff-Appellant,
BETHANY DAVISSON, Defendant-Appellee.
Appeal From: Hamilton County Municipal Court No. 17CV-02674
Comisar Prescott, for Plaintiff-Appellant,
Bethany Davisson, pro se.
Defendant-appellee Bethany Davisson went to Ronald J.
Solomon, D.D.S., to have dental work performed. She signed a
"Financial Responsibility Agreement, " which
explained "that all fees are due and payable at the time
the services are rendered unless prior financial arrangements
have been made." In bold print, the next paragraph
states "I further understand that a late charge of 1
½% (18 APR) may be added to my account after sixty
(60) days." Solomon performed several procedures over
three days in late January of 2016. After Davisson's
insurance paid a share of the charges, $1569 was still owed
on her account. Davisson did not pay the remainder because
she alleged she disputed two of the procedures. After a
hearing, the magistrate reduced the amount owed by $178 for
one of the dental fillings Davisson questioned. The
magistrate entered judgment for "1391.00 late charges
from 1/19/11 at 18% per annum & post judgt. at 18% per
annum." No objections to the magistrate's decision
The trial judge rejected the magistrate's decision in
part, ordered a copy of the transcript of the proceedings and
took the matter under review. The court subsequently adopted
in part and rejected in part the magistrate's decision.
The court adopted the judgment amount of $1391, but rejected
the assessment of the 18 percent interest. The decision
stated that the judge had reviewed the transcript and the law
and concluded that the plaintiff was "not entitled to
prejudgment and post-judgment interest at 18% per annum. The
Plaintiff sued on an account, not breach of contract claim.
The financial agreement was permissive and not mandatory. The
Plaintiff did not include the interest in billing. The
Plaintiff has been made whole by the judgment." The
trial court then entered judgment for Solomon for
"$1391.00 plus judgment interest and cost [sic]."
Solomon now appeals the trial court's rejection of the
part of the magistrate's decision awarding him 18 percent
Solomon's assignment of error alleges that the trial
court erred when it rejected the magistrate's decision in
part on the grounds that the written financial responsibility
agreement executed by the Davisson was not a contract, that
Solomon was not entitled to contractual late fees, and that
the late-fee provision was permissive and not mandatory. We
The trial judge found that Solomon was not entitled to
prejudgment and post-judgment interest at 18 percent per
annum. R.C. 1343.03(A) permits parties to agree to a
contractual rate of interest. It provides that:
when money becomes due and payable upon any bond, bill, note,
or other instrument of writing, upon any book
account * * * the creditor is entitled to interest
at the rate per annum determined pursuant to section 5703.47
of the Revised Code, unless a written contract
provides a different rate of interest in relation to the
money that becomes due and payable in which case the creditor
is entitled to interest at the rate provided in that
The trial court found that Solomon sued on an account.
"An open book account is a detailed statement that
constitutes the principal record of the transactions between
the creditor and debtor * * * [t]he statement details the
debits and credits in connection with the debtor/creditor
relationship." Cusano v. Klein, 264 F.3d 936,
942 (9th Cir.2001); Minster Farmers Coop. Exchange Co.,
Inc. v. Meyer, 117 Ohio St.3d 459, 2008-Ohio-1259, 884
N.E.2d 1056, ¶ 16. An invoice or account statement
unilaterally stating interest terms does not meet R.C.
1343.03's requirement of a written contract.
Minster at ¶ 28. In order for a written
contract to exist for purposes of R.C. 1343.03(A), there must
be a writing to which both parties have assented.
Id. at ¶ 27. The trial court was presented with
plaintiffs exhibit A, which is a copy of Davisson's
"Patient History Report." It details her account
reflecting Solomon's charges and payments made by
Davisson and her insurance company. The trial court was also
presented with plaintiffs exhibit D, which is a
"Financial Responsibility Agreement."
The "Financial Responsibility Agreement" is a
document that, according to the transcript of proceedings,
Solomon's patients were asked to read and sign. In this
agreement, Davisson states that she is financially
responsible for any and all treatment, that all fees are due
and payable at the time services are rendered, and that a
late charge of 1.5 percent (18 percent APR) may be added to
her account after 60 days. The agreement is a written
contract which evinces that both parties agreed that Davisson
would be obligated to pay for the dental treatment she
received and late charges after 60 days. "[A] judgment
creditor is entitled to a contractual interest rate instead
of the statutory rate when (1) the parties have a written
contract, and (2) that contract provides a rate of interest
with respect to money that becomes due and payable."
Hobart Bros. Co. v. Welding Supply Serv., Inc., 21
Ohio App.3d 142, 144, 486 N.E.2d 1229 (10th Dist.1985). The
fact that the agreement ...