Reprinted with permission of Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice
Not too long ago Ohio’s Supreme Court had a decidedly activist and anti-business posture. During the 1990s and early 2000s, the Court issued at least a dozen rulings that struck down reasonable limits on things like the amount someone could request in punitive damages or the time limit after which a builder could reasonably be expected to be held liable for a structure. While the legislature enacted law after law to try to establish a measure of stability, common sense and predictability in Ohio’s legal atmosphere, the Supreme Court continually struck down those laws, effectively opening the floodgates for lawsuit abuse.
And that abuse is not just a problem for big businesses. The American Tort Reform (ATRA) estimates that excessive tort costs result in a $488 per person per year “tort tax” for every American. Similarly, ATRA estimates excessive tort costs impact 2.2 million American jobs each year and result in $143 million in lost wages.
Fortunately, for the past 15-20 years, Ohio has enjoyed a moderate, stable and impartial legal climate thanks to a new wave of Supreme Court Justices who value consistency and restraint. Because of their steady and responsible leadership, it would be easy to take the current climate for granted. But this November 8, there will be three Ohio Supreme Court races on the statewide ballot. Any one of those races has the potential to upset the apple cart and put Ohio back on the path to the legal Wild West.
Ohio’s business, trade and professional organizations have come together again under the banner of the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice (OACJ) to remind Ohioans about what is at stake in these elections and to recognize the knowledge, experience and common-sense approach that the CPA Preferred Candidates Justices Sharon Kennedy, Pat DeWine and Patrick Fischer have helped to maintain on the Ohio Supreme Court. While Justices Pat DeWine and Patrick Fischer are running for re-election to their seats, Justice Sharon Kennedy is facing fellow Justice Jennifer Brunner in a race to determine the Court’s next Chief Justice.
Justices Sharon Kennedy, Pat DeWine and Patrick Fischer all are sitting members of the Ohio Supreme Court with proven track records and years of experience to their credit. Each has demonstrated time and again their commitment to judicial restraint, consistency and impartiality.
This election comes at a time when the Court is facing multiple lawsuits pertaining to common sense limits on product liability as well as recoverable damages. These are issues that will impact each and every Ohioan, if not directly, then indirectly, as rulings in these cases will affect the state’s legal and economic landscape for years to come.
OACJ has worked hard over the years to rein in frivolous lawsuits and create and sustain a civil justice system in Ohio that is fair and predictable. The election of Justice Sharon Kenney to the role of Chief Justice, and the re-election of Justices Pat DeWine and Patrick Fischer will preserve the fair and balanced approach that has served Ohio for the past 15-20 years.