Submitted June 12, 2019
from the Court of Appeals for Mahoning County, No. 17 MA
Rafidi, Pallente & Melewski, Ryan J. Melewski, and Mark
A. Rafidi; and Paul W. Flowers Co., L.P.A., Paul W. Flowers,
and Louis E. Grube, for appellees.
Dublikar, Beck, Wiley & Mathews, Gregory A. Beck, James
F. Mathews, and Andrea K. Ziarko, for appellants.
Klein, Columbus City Attorney, and Lara N. Baker-Morrish and
Andrew D. M. Miller, Assistant City Attorneys; Donnette A.
Fisher, Xenia Director of Law; Garry E. Hunter; Isaac, Wiles,
Burkholder & Teetor, L.L.C., Mark Landes, and Dale D.
Cook; Jennifer A. Hardin; Lisa A. Eliason, Athens Director of
Law; Robert F. Jacques, Oakwood Director of Law; Paula Boggs
Muething, Cincinnati City Solicitor, and Peter J. Stackpole,
Assistant City Solicitor; Mark M. Feinstein, Urbana Director
of Law/Municipal Prosecutor; Lisa Okolish Miller, Barberton
Director of Law; David J. Tarbert, Zanesville Director of
Law; Eve V. Belfance, Akron Director of Law, and John
Christopher Reece, Michael J. Defibaugh, and Brian D. Bremer,
Assistant Directors of Law; Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co.,
L.P.A., and Paul-Michael La Fayette; Thrasher, Dinsmore &
Dolan, L.P.A., and Dale H. Markowitz; L. James Juliano Jr.,
Cleveland Heights Director of Law; and Thomas N. Palmer,
Galion Director of Law, urging reversal for amici curiae city
of Columbus, city of Xenia, Ohio Municipal Attorneys
Association, Ohio Municipal League, Buckeye State
Sherriff's Association, Ohio Township Association, County
Commissioners Association of Ohio, Ohio School Boards
Association, mayor of the City of Athens, city of Oakwood,
city of Cincinnati, city of Urbana, city of Barberton, city
of Zanesville, city of Akron, village of Plain City, village
of Chagrin Falls, city of Cleveland Heights, and city of
Kristen Bates Aylward, Canton Director of Law, and Kevin R.
L'Hommedieu, Canton Law Department; Andrea Scassa,
Massillon Director of Law; and Jennifer L. Arnold, Alliance
Director of Law, urging reversal for amici curiae cities of
Canton, Massillon, and Alliance.
& Murray Co., L.P.A., and Margaret M. Murray, urging
affirmance for amicus curiae Ohio Association for Justice.
1} This discretionary appeal from the Seventh
District Court of Appeals presents the issue whether, under
the Political Subdivision Tort Liability Act, R.C. Chapter
2744, R.C. 2744.02(B)(1)'s exception to a political
subdivision's immunity for the negligent operation of a
motor vehicle encompasses an action alleging that the
political subdivision negligently hired, trained, or
supervised a police officer who was involved in a
motor-vehicle accident while responding to an emergency call.
The court of appeals held that pursuant to R.C.
2744.02(B)(1), a political subdivision may be liable for its
negligent failure to train its police officers in high-speed
2} Because the language of R.C. 2744.02(B)(1) is
plain and unambiguous, it must be applied, not interpreted.
Sears v. Weimer, 143 Ohio St. 312, 55 N.E.2d 413
(1944), paragraph five of the syllabus. R.C. 2744.02(B)(1)
allows political subdivisions to be held liable for an
employee's negligent operation of a motor
vehicle; it does not, however, allow a political subdivision
to be held liable for consequences arising from an
employee's training or the supervision of that employee
in operating the motor vehicle.
3} Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court
of appeals and remand the cause to the trial court for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
4} R.C. 2744.02(B) is at the center of this case.
Generally, pursuant to R.C. 2744.02(A), a political
subdivision is not liable for damages when an injury has been
"caused by any act or omission of the political
subdivision or an employee of the political subdivision in
connection with a governmental or proprietary function."
R.C. 2744.02(B) provides exceptions to that general immunity.
R.C. 2744.02(B)(1) establishes that a political subdivision
is liable for injuries caused by the negligent operation of a
motor vehicle by its employees who are acting within the
scope and authority of their employment. However, under R.C.
2744.02(B)(1)(a), that liability does not attach when the
employee is a police officer who is responding to an
emergency call-unless the operation of the motor vehicle
constitutes willful or wanton misconduct. The statute reads:
(B) Subject to sections 2744.03 and 2744.05 of the Revised
Code, a political subdivision is liable in damages in a civil
action for injury, death, or loss to person or property
allegedly caused by an act or omission of the political
subdivision or of any of its employees in connection with a
governmental or proprietary function, as follows:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this division, political
subdivisions are liable for injury, death, or loss to person
or property caused by the negligent operation of any motor
vehicle by their employees when the employees are engaged
within the scope of their employment and authority. The
following are full defenses to that liability:
(a) A member of a municipal corporation police department or
any other police agency was operating a motor vehicle while
responding to an emergency call and the operation of the
vehicle did not constitute willful or wanton misconduct * *
we consider whether a political subdivision's training or
supervision of a police officer may constitute
"operation of the vehicle" for purposes of
determining potential liability for an accident caused by the