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Harrison v. Horizon Women's Healthcare, LLC

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

August 30, 2019

MATTHEW HARRISON, et al. Plaintiffs-Appellees
v.
HORIZON WOMEN'S HEALTHCARE, LLC, et al. Defendants-Appellants

          Civil Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Trial Court Case No. 2016-CV-6114

          KATHLEEN J. ST. JOHN, Atty. Reg. No. 0031238, PAMELA PANTAGES, Atty. Reg. No. 0046840, and JEFFREY M. HELLER, Atty. Reg. No. 0087795, Attorneys for Plaintiffs-Appellees

          DOUGLAS G. LEAK, Atty. Reg. No. 0045554, and PATRICK K. ATKINSON, Atty. Reg. No. 0016980, Attorneys for Defendants-Appellants

          OPINION

          TUCKER, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendants-appellants, Andre Harris, M.D. and Horizon Women's Healthcare, LLC, appeal from final orders entered by the trial court on September 4, 2018, and December 27, 2018. In its order of September 4, 2018, the court sustained the motion of Plaintiffs-appellees, Matthew Harrison and Maurita Henry, to strike Appellants' motions for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict; the court sustained the motion to strike because it found that Appellants' motions had not been timely filed. In its order of December 27, 2018, the court overruled Appellants' motion for relief from judgment.

         {¶ 2} Appellants raise two assignments of error, directing the first to the order of September 4, 2018, and the second to the order of December 27, 2018, but the fundamental question presented by this appeal is whether the trial court's earlier entry of June 15, 2018, was a final judgment pursuant to R.C. 2505.02. We find that the entry was a final judgment, and consequently, we affirm the orders of September 4, 2018, and December 27, 2018.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 3} Appellees filed a complaint against Appellants and Miami Valley Hospital on August 26, 2013, presenting a single cause of action for medical malpractice. Complaint, Montgomery C.P. No. 2013 CV 05111 (Aug. 26, 2013). The trial court later found that Appellees had not joined all necessary parties to the case, so Appellees filed an amended complaint on August 7, 2014, joining the Department of Job and Family Services as a defendant, though they did not revise their single claim for relief or assert any additional claims. Amended Complaint, Montgomery C.P. No. 2013 CV 05111 (Aug. 7, 2014). Appellees voluntarily dismissed their claim against Miami Valley Hospital without prejudice on January 5, 2015, and on March 2, 2015, the case came to a close when Appellees voluntarily dismissed their remaining claims against Appellants and the Department of Job and Family Services, likewise without prejudice.

         {¶ 4} In the instant case, Appellees "re-filed [their] [c]omplaint" on December 2, 2016. Complaint ¶ 1. This new complaint comprised four claims for relief, rather than one, and neither the Department of Job and Family Services nor Miami Valley Hospital was named as a defendant. See id. at 1-14. At the conclusion of a trial by jury on January 31, 2018, the jury returned a verdict in Appellees' favor.

         {¶ 5} Thereafter, the parties litigated several post-trial issues, of which the most significant was Appellees' demand for prejudgment interest, and the trial court deferred its entry of final judgment until these issues were resolved. The parties eventually reached an agreement regarding the payment of prejudgment interest, which prompted the court to file a document captioned "Proposed Judgment Entry" on June 15, 2018. In the entry, the court noted that the matter of prejudgment interest had been resolved and then "proceeded] to enter judgment on the jury's verdict [of] January 31, 2018[, ] in favor of [Appellees]." Proposed Judgment Entry 1, June 15, 2018. The clerk served the parties with notice of the filing of the entry, pursuant to Civ.R. 58(B).

         {¶ 6} On June 26, 2018, the trial court filed a related document captioned "Nunc Pro Tunc Amended Judgment Entry," which was also accompanied by a notice of filing from the clerk. The court indicated that "[t]his [second judgment entry was filed] nunc pro tunc retroactive to June 15, 2018[, ] * * * to clarify the finality of the judgment entry filed on that date." Amended Judgment Entry 2, June 26, 2018.

         {¶ 7} Appellants subsequently filed three motions on July 16, 2018: a motion under Civ.R. 62(B) to stay the execution of the judgment; a motion under Civ.R. 59(A) for a new trial; and a motion under Civ.R. 50(B) for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Appellees responded on July 23, 2018, with a motion to strike Appellants' motions under Civ.R. 50 and 59, as well as a memorandum in opposition to Appellants' motion for a stay. The trial court sustained Appellees' motion to strike in its order of September 4, 2018.[1]

         {¶ 8} On October 3, 2018, Appellants filed a motion for relief from judgment under Civ.R. 60(B), and on the same date, they filed a timely notice of appeal to this court from the trial court's order of September 4, 2018. At Appellants' request, we stayed the appeal effective November 2, 2018, and remanded the case to the trial court for the limited purpose of ruling on the motion for relief from judgment. The trial court overruled the motion in its order of December 27, 2018, after which Appellants filed an amended notice of appeal on January 18, 2019.

         II. Analysis

         {¶ 9} For their first assignment of error, Appellants contend that:

         {¶ 10} Appellants argue that the trial court erred by striking their motions under Civ.R. 50(B) and 59(A) on the basis of untimeliness. See Appellants' Brief 3-22. By Appellants' reasoning, their time to submit such motions did not begin to run upon the filing of the court's entry of June 15, 2018, because that entry "was merely a suggestion" and "did not constitute a judgment in accordance with the Local Rules [of Practice and Procedure for the General Division of the ...


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