Suit Challenging H.B. 350 Filed
NOTE: The Supreme Court declared H.B. 350 unconstitutional in this case.
The Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers, the Ohio AFL-CIO, and citizen taxpayers filed a suit on November 20, 1997, in the Ohio Supreme Court raising constitutional challenges to Amended Substitute House Bill 350.
The suit, Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers, et al. v. Sheward, et al., Supreme Court Case No. 97-2419, seeks a writ of prohibition and mandamus against the application of H.B. 350 by the trial Court judges in the state. It raises the following constitutional challenges to H.B. 350:
- Article IV of the Ohio Constitution places judicial power in the courts and provides that the Supreme Court has the responsibility for determining the rules of practice and procedure which apply in the State Courts. Article II, Section 32 prohibits the legislature from exercising judicial power which is not expressly conferred upon the legislature. H.B. 350 infringes upon the judiciary because it unconstitutionally creates new rules of practice and procedure.
- Ohio Constitution, Article II, Section 15(D), requires that a bill contain no more than one subject. H.B. 350, in violation of this provision, contains legislation on multiple subjects. The bill is 246 pages in length and contains more than 60 separate provisions, most of which are completely unrelated to each other.
- Among the multiple subjects which H.B. 350 addresses are: trial evidence and procedure, court jurisdiction and authority, domestic relations, statutes of limitation, jury instructions, attorney misconduct and ethics, comparative fault and contributory negligence, apportionment of damages, wrongful death, the standard of care for agricultural producers, products liability, commercial regulation, medical malpractice, public employment and whistleblower protections, legal immunity for political subdivisions, legal immunity for private individuals, drivers’ licenses, public utility rates, and the appropriation and allocation of state funds.
- Ohio Constitution Article I, Section 5 provides that the right to trial by jury “shall be inviolate.” H.B. 350 interferes with the jury through a variety of methods which limit or reduce the amount of damages which a jury can award.
- Ohio Constitution Article I, Section 19A, prohibits limits on damages for death caused by wrongful acts. H.B. 350 unconstitutionally contains a variety of provisions which limit such damages.
- The provisions in H.B. 350 limit or eliminate the right of individuals to a remedy for various harm done to them which violates the right to a remedy provisions of Ohio Constitution Article I, Section 16.
- Due Process, provided by Ohio Constitution, Article I, Section 16, is violated because of the limitations on damages and rights to a remedy for harm done which are contained in H.B. 350.
- H.B. 350 violates provisions of the Ohio Constitution Article I, Section 2, which provide for Equal Protection and which prohibit special privileges.H.B. 350 contains provisions which discriminate against certain individuals who suffer harm, including women, children, minorities and the disabled. H.B. 350 also improperly creates special privileges by providing immunity for certain individuals and groups.
- Ohio Constitution Article II, Section 28 provides that retroactive laws cannot be enacted. H.B. 350 improperly provides that certain of its provisions should be effective retroactively.