Arguments Scheduled in Ohio Tort Reform Challenge

Oral argument, in an important Ohio Supreme Court case that will determine whether Ohio's statute of repose is constitutional, has been scheduled for April 25, at  the Marion County Court of Common Pleas as part of the Court's semi-annual off-site court program. 

The case, Ruther vs. Kaiser, is being followed closely by the Ohio Osteopathic Association and six other state and national associations that filed an amicus curiae brief with the Ohio Supreme Court last December.  The brief urged the Ohio Supreme Court to uphold Ohio’s current four year statute of repose for medical claims to avoid a disasterous impact on Ohio's physicians and hospitals.

Ohio's medical malpractice law changed substantially with the passage of S.B. 281 in 2001. Prior to enactment, the state was facing a professional liability crisis with numerous carriers leaving the state and others rapidly escalating premiums to protect against losses. If the Supreme Court fails to overturn the Appellate Court’s ruling in Ruther vs. Kaiser, Ohio would become one of the only jurisdictions in the United States to impose never-ending uncertainty upon physicians and hospitals.

 “By enacting the statue of repose for medical negligence claims, the General Assembly sought to strike a balance between the rights of prospective tort claimants and the rights of Ohio physicians and hospitals,” the brief asserts.  “But the Twelfth District’s decision disregards this reasoning and makes Ohio one of only two states that have held that a statute of repose for medical claims violates a constitutional right to remedy.” 

The OHA, OOA, and OSMA have been monitoring court cases since SB 281 was passed to ward off challenges which threaten to undermine the law.  So far, the associations have made about a half a dozen amicus appearances before the Ohio Supreme Court, which has ruled to support SB 281’s provisions in most instances.  Click here to see a copy of the brief:  Ruther v. Kaiser.

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