FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE OBERLIN MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY
OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 17CVF00486
P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and DANIEL F. PETTICORD,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellant.
RICHARD RAMSEY, Attorney at Law, for Defendant.
ANTHONY BAKER, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
J. CARR JUDGE
Defendant-Appellant Lorain County Sheriff ("the Sheriff)
appeals the judgment of the Oberlin Municipal Court. This
Court reverses and remands the matter for proceedings
consistent with this decision.
This Court summarized the facts of the matter in the prior
According to [Plaintiff] James Gilliam, following a traffic
stop in Lorain County, his vehicle was towed and stored by
[Defendant] Vaughn's Auto Repair & Towing
[("Vaughn's")]. Over the next few months, he
attempted to recover his vehicle, but every time he tried
to pay the requested fee, Vaughn's would increase the
amount it said he owed. Finally, one day it told him that
his vehicle had been sold. Mr. Gilliam filed a complaint
against Vaughn's, alleging several causes of action.
After discovering that the Sheriff had approved the sale,
Mr. Gilliam amended his complaint to add claims against the
Sheriff. Specifically, Mr. Gilliam alleged that the Sheriff
had failed to provide him the notice required by statute
that his vehicle was going to be sold.
After answering the amended complaint, the Sheriff moved
for summary judgment, alleging that it was immune from
liability. The municipal court denied its motion because it
determined that some of the documents the Sheriff had
submitted were not properly incorporated into an affidavit.
It gave the Sheriff 14 days to supplement the record. After
the Sheriff submitted a supplemental brief, the municipal
court again denied its motion for summary judgment,
concluding that it was not immune because it had not
followed the statutory procedure for disposal of the
Gilliam v. Vaughn's Auto Repair & Towing,
9th Dist. Lorain No. 18CA011340, 2019-Ohio-1392, ¶ 2-3.
The Sheriff appealed and this Court reversed the judgment of
the trial court. See id. at ¶ 1, 3. In so
doing, this Court concluded that it did not "appear that
the municipal court conducted the three-tiered analysis for
political subdivision immunity." Id. at ¶
7. We noted that the trial court "did not analyze
whether the exceptions to immunity under Section 2744.02(B)
or the statutory defenses to liability under Section
2744.03(A) applied." Id. In conclusion, we
determined that a remand was warranted because, even
"[t]hough the municipal court may have worked through
the three-tier immunity analysis under Sections 2744.02 and
2744.03, we can[not] determine from the judgment entry its
conclusions in that regard." Id. at ¶ 8.
Upon remand, the trial court again issued an entry denying
the Sheriffs motion for summary judgment. The trial court,
albeit reluctantly, conducted the analysis ordered by this
Court in the prior appeal and concluded that the Sheriff
"is a political subdivision immune from tort liability
under R.C. 2744.01(F)[, ]" that "none of the
exceptions in R.C. 2744.02(B) appl[ied, ]" and that it
was therefore not necessary for it to make a finding under
R.C. 2744.03(A). Notwithstanding the foregoing, inexplicably,
the trial court stated that, "[r]egardless of the
court's conclusions in the three tier analysis the court
finds that the Lorain County Sheriff under the unique facts
and circumstances of this case is not as a matter of law
immune from liability." In concluding that genuine
issues of material fact remained and the Sheriff was
therefore not entitled to the benefit of immunity, the trial
court appears to have primarily relied upon ...