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Thomas v. Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

July 30, 2018

JUSTIN R. THOMAS Appellee
v.
LORAIN METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY Defendant and CITY OF LORAIN Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 16CV188380

          PATRICK D. RILEY and JOSEPH T. LAVECK, Attorneys at Law, for Appellant.

          MATTHEW DOOLEY and STEPHEN BOSAK, Attorneys at Law, for Defendant.

          TIMOTHY R. CLEARY, Attorney at Law, for Defendant.

          RYAN M. HARRELL and WILLIAM J. PRICE, Attorneys at Law, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          DONNA J. CARR, JUDGE

         {¶1} Appellant, the City of Lorain, appeals the judgment of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} On a snowy January evening in 2014, Justin Thomas was walking to the store when his left leg fell into an open water meter crock that was situated on a property owned by the Lorain Metro. Hous. Auth. ("LMHA"). The water meter crock's lid had become dislodged, resulting in an open hole.[1] Though the water meter crock was located just off the sidewalk, a path had been cleared in such a way that it guided pedestrians to the spot in the grassy area where the water meter crock was located. At the time of the incident, Thomas was walking to a convenience store with his girlfriend, who was a resident on the property. Thomas suffered significant injuries as a result of his fall. Approximately a week after the incident, Thomas' girlfriend found a lid partially buried in the snow.

         {¶3} On January 6, 2016, Thomas filed a complaint against LMHA, the City of Lorain, and the Lorain Util. Dept, in addition to several John Doe defendants. With leave of court, Thomas subsequently filed an amended complaint wherein he alleged that the defendants' "negligent, reckless, and/or wanton conduct" led to the hazardous situation with the water meter crock. Thomas further alleged that maintenance of the area where the water meter crock was located, including the plowing of the snow in that area, was performed in a "negligent and/or reckless manner by Defendants[.]" The City initially filed a cross claim against LMHA but the cross claim was subsequently dismissed. Both LMHA and the City filed answers to the amended complaint.

         {¶4} On May 11, 2017, the City filed a motion for summary judgment and included numerous exhibits. The following day, LMHA also filed a motion for summary judgment. Thomas filed an omnibus brief wherein he responded in opposition to both motions for summary judgment. Both the City and LMHA filed reply briefs in support of their respective motions. On July 6, 2017, the trial court issued separate orders denying the motions for summary judgment.

         {¶5} The City filed a timely notice of appeal. Now before this Court, the City raises three assignments of error.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT ...


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