Failure to Name Administrator Does Not Deprive Court of Jurisdiction Over Appeal
Spencer v. Freight Handlers, Inc. (3/8/12), 131 Ohio St.3d 316, 2012-Ohio-880.
Issue: Did a trial court properly dismiss an R.C. §4123.512 appeal for failure to name the administrator as a party?
Background: Spencer filed a notice of appeal to challenge the administrative denial of his claim. The notice of appeal listed the employer, but did not list the administrator of the BWC as a party. Nor did Spencer serve the administrator with a copy of the notice of appeal. Spencer then filed his complaint, but again failed to list the administrator as a party or serve the administrator with a copy of the complaint.
The employer filed a motion to dismiss the appeal for failure to join a necessary party, based on the second paragraph of R.C. §4123.512(B), which states:
The administrator of workers’ compensation, the claimant, and the employer shall be parties to the appeal and the court, upon the application of the commission, shall make the commission a party. The party filing the appeal shall serve a copy of the notice of appeal on the administrator at the central office of the bureau of workers’ compensation in Columbus.
Spencer filed a motion to amend the complaint to include the administrator and served a copy of the amended complaint on the administrator. The administrator filed an answer. The trial court then dismissed the notice of appeal, finding the notice of appeal invalid due to “omitting the Administrator as a party and failing to serve the Administrator with the notice of appeal.”
Spencer appealed to the Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court. That decision was appealed to the Supreme Court.
Decision: Supreme Court affirms.
The first paragraph of R.C. §4123.512(B) states that
The notice of appeal shall state the names of the claimant and the employer, the number of the claim, the date of the order appealed from, and the fact that the appellant appeals therefrom.
This paragraph lists the jurisdictional components of a notice of appeal. The Court finds that the second paragraph is not a continuation of this paragraph. Instead, the second paragraph “lists a number of things that are required in addition to or subsequent to a notice of appeal.” Therefore, the items listed in the second paragraph are not jurisdictional.
Referring to the first paragraph of R.C. §4123.512(B), the Court determines that the only jurisdictional requirements of the notice of appeal are that it state the name of the claimant and employer, claim number, date of the order and that the order is being appealed. The first paragraph does not require that the administrator be listed as a party.