Previous Version of Subrogation Statute Declared Unconstitutional

Previous Version of Subrogation Statute Declared Unconstitutional

Posted: December, 2001

Giles v. Schindler Elevator Corp. (10/18/01), Cuyahoga No. 78082.

Issue: Is the subrogation statute which existed before the subrogation statute the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in Holeton v. Crouse Cartage Co. (2001), 92 Ohio St.3d 115, also unconstitutional?

Background: Giles was injured in March of 1995 when she wheeled a patient into an elevator which did not open flush with the floor, causing her to trip and fall. Her industrial claim was allowed. She then filed a negligence suit.

Her employer asserted a right of subrogation pursuant to R.C. 4123.93. Giles filed for declaratory judgment, claiming that R.C. 4123.93 was unconstitutional.

Before trial on the negligence case, Schindler and Giles entered into a settlement agreement. The court was never requested to apportion the settlement into a specific type of recovery.

Her employer, the Cleveland Clinic, then requested reimbursement for the compensation and benefits it had paid, less reasonable attorney’s fees, in accordance with R.C. 4123.93.

The court granted Giles’ motion for summary judgment based on its own earlier ruling in Sharaba v. Budhar (See WCB, November 1999, page 1) which found R.C. 4123.931 unconstitutional because it violated Equal Protection.

The Court of Appeals remanded Cleveland Clinic’s initial appeal to the trial court for lack of final appealable order. The trial judge entered a new order finding the subrogation statute in effect at the time of the March 1995 injury, R.C. 4123.93, unconstitutional because it violated equal protection and the subrogation claim unenforceable.

The Cleveland Clinic appealed.

Decision: Court of Appeals affirms.

The Supreme Court found the post-September 29, 1995 subrogation statute unconstitutional in Holeton v. Crouse Cartage Co. (2001), 92 Ohio St.3d 115.

Court finds R.C. 4123.93, in effect at the time of Giles’ injury, similarly flawed because it also improperly differentiates between claimants who institute lawsuits against third-party tortfeasers and those who settle with tortfeasors without bringing suit.

This version of R.C. 4123.93 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Ohio Constitution because it improperly distinguishes between parties who settle their case and those who go to court.

Information courtesy of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin. Subscribe to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin to keep informed about the Ohio workers’ compensation system.