OHIO MASS TORTS COVID-19 UPDATES

Am. Sub. H.B. 197

Friday, March 27, 2020

On Friday March 27, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law Am. Sub. H.B. 197, a COVID-19 response bill, which tolled all statutes of limitations and statutory time limitations and deadlines in the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Administrative Code. This temporary law change ensures that Ohio judges have the authority they need to toll statutorily established time requirements for civil and criminal cases.  

Am. Sub. H.B. 197 implements emergency measures for COVID-19 issues facing Ohio. Specifically relating to legal suits, the bill tolls the following statutory deadlines, among others, during the emergency period of March 9, 2020 through July 30, 2020:

  • All statutes of limitations for criminal offenses
  • All statutes of limitations for civil cases
  • Time within which discovery must be completed
  • Time within which a party must be served
  • “Any other criminal, civil, or administrative time limitation or deadline under the Revised Code

The bill notes that tolling expires on July 30, 2020 or “on the date the period of emergency ends,” whichever is sooner. This allows for minimal interruption of court deadlines.

Am. Sub. H.B. 197 will present a unique issue for any cases that may be filed within the next year. If there are any causes of action that accrue during this tolling period, knowledge of this bill will be necessary to compute both the appropriate statute expiration date and the time in which a defendant must be served.

A full copy of Am. Sub. H.B. 197 can be found at:

https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-documents?id=GA133-HB-197

Ohio Supreme Court Order

Friday, March 27, 2020

In conjunction with the enactment of Am. Sub. H.B. 197, on Friday March 27, 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court issued an order tolling the time requirements as established by all Supreme Court promulgated rules, including the Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, the Rules of Practice of the Supreme Court of Ohio, among others. Notwithstanding the tolling of the time requirements, a court may still require filing in accordance with existing rules, and issue orders setting a specific schedule in a case or requiring parties to file documents by a specific date, if it pertains to a situation that requires “immediate attention.” In addition, the order mandates that “social distancing must be observed during the emergency period in all court proceedings and in each court in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The March 27, 2020 order was issued by the Ohio Supreme Court “to establish a temporary measure promoting uniformity and continuity” among Ohio courts and to ensure the “continued and effective operation of the judicial system during the emergency period[.]”

The March 27, 2020 order can be found at:

https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2020/2020-Ohio-1166.pdf

Cuyahoga County Court Of Common Pleas Responses
To COVID-19

The courts in Ohio remain open. In Cuyahoga County, in particular, Administrative Judge Brendan Sheehan has reduced the docket, restricting it to only criminal and emergency matters. The reduced docket is expected to last until April 10, 2020, with extensions to come if necessary. Cuyahoga County has also suspended all jury trials through April 16, 2020, again with extensions if necessary.

 

Thursday, March, 26, 2020

On March 26, 2020, a telephonic meeting with Judge Hanna, who oversees the Cuyahoga County Asbestos Docket, made clear that the Court will do its best to keep its cases moving forward. Alternative means of conducting hearings and depositions are being encouraged, including telephonic attendance or video-conferencing. The Court anticipates being flexible with deadlines, and will be adjusting its docket on a case-by-case basis. Realistically, the earliest jury trials are expected to be conducted in September 2020.

MASS TORT AND TOXIC TORT LITIGATION GROUP

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