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Tort Reform: Unintended Consequences

03.19.15

I’ve briefly defined Ohio Tort reform in this section of our site: http://www.maleklawfirm.com/resource/basic-personal-injury-terms-defined/

Essentially it caps the amount of non-economic damages, i.e. compensation for non-monetary harm. In Ohio, where a plaintiff does not suffer a major physical injury, then her non-economic damages cannot exceed the greater of $250k or three times the economic damages not to exceed  $350k.

So this NBC 4 article discusses a situation where the jury awarded a minor who was molested by a youth pastor, $3.6 million dollars. Unfortunately this award was essentially for non-economic damages, therefore her award was statutorily capped at $250k. The article points out the lopsided situation whereby the damage award of a 95 year old grandmother whose leg was scarred, would not be statutorily capped. That is since she suffered a major physical injury, i.e. scarring, she is not subject to the caps. The molested minor will have a lifetime of emotional suffering to overcome.

One more thing, I think its interesting that money given to a plaintiff as compensation for the harm she endured is labeled an “award.” I think of an award as something you get for winning a contest, or doing really well on a test. “Award” makes it sound as if the plaintiff is getting a great benefit. I think maybe “compensation” or “recognition” is a better term to use. The jury “recognized” the plaintiff’s injuries and “compensated” her in the amount of X dollars.

Here is the eye-opening article:

http://www.nbc4i.com/story/23553972/rape-victims-case-raises-debate-over-ohio-tort-reform-laws

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