Ohio Supreme Court Clarifies the Law on Forum Selection

Rolfes Henry is proud to announce that John A. Fiocca, Jr. and Matthew F.X. Craven won an appeal at the Ohio Supreme Court, resulting in the dismissal of a lawsuit against our client and clarification of the law.  The case is Crown Servs. v. Miami Valley Paper Tube Co., 2020-Ohio-4409.

Crown Services, Inc. and Zurich American Insurance Company filed a lawsuit against Rolfes Henry’s client, Miami Valley Paper Tube Company, following a workplace accident at Miami Valley’s business in Crittenden, Kentucky.

Crown, a temp agency located in Kentucky, employed a Kentucky resident and assigned her to work at Miami Valley.  Crown obtained a Kentucky workers’ compensation insurance policy from Zurich covering the temps it assigned to Miami Valley.  When one of Crown’s temps was injured in an accident at Miami Valley, Crown and Zurich became obligated to pay Kentucky workers’ compensation benefits to the injured temp.  Crown and Zurich then filed a lawsuit – in Cuyahoga County, Ohio – against Miami Valley seeking to recoup the monies it paid to the injured temp.

Rolfes Henry filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the doctrine of forum non conveniens applied because virtually everything related to the case occurred in Crittenden, Kentucky – which is 300 miles southwest of Cleveland.  The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas granted our motion and dismissed the lawsuit.  Crown and Zurich appealed that decision to the Eighth District Court of Appeals.

Rolfes Henry filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing that Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction over the case because: 1) Ohio appellate courts can review only final orders; and 2) the trial court’s order dismissing the lawsuit is not a final and appealable order under R.C. 2505.02 (the Ohio statute outlining what orders are final and appealable).  The Court of Appeals granted our motion and dismissed the appeal.  Crown and Zurich appealed that decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

In the Ohio Supreme Court, our brief analyzed the provisions of R.C. 2505.02, and explained precisely why the trial court’s order dismissing the lawsuit didn’t fall within the statute’s definition of a final and appealable order.  The Ohio Supreme Court agreed with our analysis and affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Consequently, the order of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas dismissing the lawsuit against Rolfes Henry’s client stands.  It is now settled law in Ohio that a trial court’s order dismissing a lawsuit based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens is not a final and appealable order.  The practical effect is if a trial court dismisses a case based on forum non conveniens, the plaintiff will have to refile the case in a venue more convenient for all parties.