Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No.
MICHAEL W. SANDNER, Atty. Reg. No. 0064107, 2700 Attorney for
PATRICIA MURRELL, Atty. Reg. No. PHV-20631-2019, Attorney for
1} Patricia Murrell d/b/a Law Office of Murrell
& Associates and the Law Office of Murrell &
Associates, LLC ("the appellants") appeal from the
trial court's entry of summary judgment against them on
appellee LexisNexis' complaint alleging breach of
contract for non-payment under a subscription agreement.
2} The appellants advance four assignments of error.
First, they contend the trial court erred in entering summary
judgment where LexisNexis failed to meet its prima facie
burden under Civ.R. 56 of demonstrating the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Second, they claim the trial
court erred in entering summary judgment where LexisNexis
failed to present evidence establishing that it had performed
its own obligations under the subscription agreement. They
also argue that the trial court overlooked a genuine issue of
material fact regarding LexisNexis' performance. Third,
they assert that the trial court erred in failing to view the
evidence and reasonable inferences related to conflicting
"forum-selection clauses" in a light most favorable
to them. Fourth, they argue that the trial court erred in
failing to consider evidence that LexisNexis incorrectly had
named "Patricia Murrell" as a defendant.
3} The record reflects that attorney Patricia
Murrell signed a subscription agreement with LexisNexis for
online legal-research services in January 2016. Murrell's
monthly payments went into arrears around August 2016 and her
account remained delinquent in March 2017, when LexisNexis
"interrupted" her service due to non-payment.
Thereafter, LexisNexis commenced the present lawsuit in
September 2017 with a complaint alleging breach of contract.
LexisNexis identified the defendant as "Patricia Murrell
dba Law Office of Murrell & Associates." In her
answer, which included affirmative defenses, Murrell argued,
among many other things, that LexisNexis itself had failed to
perform under the contract by repeatedly and continually
failing to provide her with accessible online legal-research
services. More specifically, Murrell alleged that beginning
in January 2016 and continuing through the summer of 2017,
LexisNexis failed to make its services available to her and
failed to provide her with access to the data bases to which
she had subscribed. LexisNexis later amended its complaint to
add as a defendant the "Law Office of Murrell &
4} On November 2, 2018, LexisNexis moved for summary
judgment, relying primarily on an affidavit from Amy
Rountree, one of its customer-account representatives.
LexisNexis argued that the parties had entered into a
contract, it had provided service as required under the
contract, and the appellants had failed to pay for the
service as agreed. The appellants opposed summary judgment,
arguing inter alia that LexisNexis had failed to perform its
contractual obligations by not making its subscription
services available or accessible to them.
5} On January 17, 2019, the trial court sustained
LexisNexis's motion and entered summary judgment against
the appellants on LexisNexis's complaint. (Doc. # 71.) In
support of its decision, the trial court reasoned in part as
In the case at bar, the Court finds that the parties entered
into a valid written contract (Exhibits A, B and C to Ms.
Rountree's Affidavit.) [footnote omitted]. Defendants
breached the Contract by failing to pay for the online legal
services in accordance with the Price Schedule.
Defendants' opposition to the motion for summary judgment
on Plaintiff's breach of contract is confusing and sets
forth propositions that are conclusory. For example,
Defendants' claim that Ms. Rountree's [affidavit] is
insufficient to support summary judgment is inaccurate. The
Rountree Affidavit properly authenticates the Contract, sets
forth Defendants' failure to pay, and establishes the
amount due and owing. In response to this evidence, Murrell
makes her own conclusory statements that she wasn't given
the terms of the Contract, which was in fact signed by her as
the owner of the Law Office of Murrell and Associates, and
that Plaintiff committed some sort of fraud in its zealous
pursuit of her as [a] client for online services.
* * * Defendants' assertion that the Contract was not
provided to them is without merit. Furthermore,
Defendants' general contention that there was some sort
of fraud in the inducement on Plaintiff's part has no
facts to support the claim. It is not lost on this Court that
Murrell is an attorney. She executed a document and is
responsible to know the terms of the document she signed.
Likewise, Defendants' breach has been established. While
Defendants argue that Plaintiff stopped providing services,
Ms. Rountree's Affidavit establishes, and this point is
not disputed by Defendants, that services were terminated
only after Defendant's account became delinquent.
Finally, Plaintiff has established its damages. There is no
dispute that Plaintiff provided online legal services to
Defendant for a period of time at a monthly rate of $0.00 in
anticipation of future payments under the Contract. Further,
services for which Defendant was responsible under the Price
Schedule to pay a fee were rendered and not paid for.
Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that no genuine issue
of material fact exists for trial, and Plaintiff is entitled
to the amount of the delinquent payments and accelerated
amount under the contract for a total of $5, 378.31 under the
minimum payment schedule set forth in the Contract, plus