Ohio Supreme Court decision on immunity for recklessness

December 12, 2012

On December 6th, 2012 the Ohio Supreme Court issued it’s decision in a case involving the deaths of two motorists hit and killed by a Massillon city fire truck, the court ruled in Anderson v. Massillon, 2012-OHIO-5711,that the standards of “willful,” “wanton,” and “reckless” are “different and distinct degrees of care and are not interchangeable” and clarified the legal definitions of these terms. http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/ROD/docs/pdf/0/2012/2012-Ohio-5711.pdf  Based on that holding, the court upheld in part a ruling of the Fifth District Court of Appeals that reversed the trial court’s award of summary judgment in favor of the City. The Court also resolved the issue of different standards for governmental liability as compared to the standard for liability of an employee of a governmental entity.   The ruling also clearly determined that a violation of a department policy does not necessarily remove.  Immunity from civil liability in Injury lawsuits but, subject to the Rules of Evidence may be used to establish reckless, willful and wanton conduct. The decision remands the case back to the trial court to reconsider the city’s liability.  Murray & Murray attorney John T. Murray was Amicus in the case on behalf of the Estate of Ian Huffman who was killed in a collision by a volunteer firefighter.

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