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Cutlip v. City of Akron

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

January 8, 2020

ANGELA CUTLIP, et al. Appellees
v.
CITY OF AKRON Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CV-2017-10-4233

          EVE V. BELFANCE, Director of Law, and JOHN CHRISTOPHER REECE and MICHAEL J. DEFIBAUGH, Assistant Directors of Law, for Appellant.

          MICHELLE L. TRASKA and PETER D. TRASKA, Attorneys at Law, for Appellees.

          JEREMY M. BURNSIDE, Attorney at Law, for Appellees.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          THOMAS A. TEODOSIO JUDGE

         {¶1} The City of Akron appeals the order of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas denying the City of Akron's motion for summary judgment. We affirm.

         I.

         {¶2} In October 2017, Angela and William Cutlip filed a complaint against the City of Akron and multiple John Doe defendants alleging negligence after a bathroom stall door fell on Ms. Cutlip's foot at Firestone Stadium, a public stadium in Akron, Ohio. The City of Akron moved for summary judgment on the basis of political subdivision immunity pursuant to R.C. 2744.02(A), which was denied by the trial court on January 25, 2019. The City of Akron now appeals, raising one assignment of error.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT TO THE CITY OF AKRON BASED UPON THE DOCTRINE OF POLITICAL SUBDIVISON IMMUNITY.

         {¶3} In its assignment of error, the City of Akron argues the trial court erred in denying its motion for summary judgment as to the doctrine of political subdivision immunity. We disagree.

         {¶4} "The denial of a motion for summary judgment is not ordinarily a final, appealable order." Buck v. Reminderville, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27002, 2014-Ohio-1389, ¶ 5. However, R.C. 2744.02(C) provides that "[a]n order that denies a political subdivision * * * the benefit of an alleged immunity from liability as provided in this chapter or any other provision of the law is a final order." There is no dispute the City of Akron is a political subdivision of the state of Ohio. Because the denial of the motion denied the City the benefit of the political subdivision immunity, it is a final order. Hubbell v. City of Xenia, 115 Ohio St.3d 77, 2007-Ohio-4839, ¶ 2. Our review, however, is limited to the alleged errors in the portion of the trial court's decision which denied the political subdivision the benefit of immunity; this Court lacks jurisdiction to address any other interlocutory rulings the trial court made. Owens v. Haynes, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27027, 2014-Ohio-1503, ¶ 8, quoting Makowski v. Kohler, 9th Dist. Summit No. 25219, 2011-Ohio-2382, ¶ 7-8.

         {¶5} Appellate review of an award of summary judgment is de novo. Grafton v. Ohio Edison Co., 77 Ohio St3d 102, 105 (1996). Summary judgment is appropriate under Civ.R. 56 when: (1) no genuine issue as to any material fact remains to be litigated; (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law; and (3) viewing the evidence most strongly in favor of the nonmoving party, reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion and that conclusion is adverse to the nonmoving party. Temple v. Wean United, Inc., 50 Ohio St.2d 317, 327 (1977), citing Civ.R. 56(C). A court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must resolve any doubt in favor of the non-moving party. Murphy v. Reynoldsburg,65 Ohio St.3d 356, 358-359 (1992). A trial court does not have the liberty to choose among reasonable inferences ...


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