Women and Justice: Court: Supreme Court of Ohio

Domestic Case Law

Roe v. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region Supreme Court of Ohio (2009)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The parents of a minor who received an abortion sued Planned Parenthood, which they alleged had performed the abortion illegally because the clinic did not notify them in advance. The plaintiffs sought the medical records and any reports of abuse relating to minors who had received abortions in the prior 10 years. The defendant refused to produce the records of nonparty patients on the ground of physician-patient privilege. The trial court ordered the defendant to produce the non-party records with identifying information redacted, but the Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Court of Appeals’ ruling, holding that the medical records of non-party patients were not discoverable.

Allen v. Totes Isotoner Corp. Supreme Court of Ohio (2009)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff-appellant, an employee of Totes/Isotoner Corporation, had for two weeks taken breaks without her employer’s knowledge to lactate. After the defendant fired her “for her failure to follow directions,” the plaintiff filed suit alleging wrongful termination on the basis of her pregnancy. The Butler County Court of Common Pleas granted summary judgment in favor of her employer, and the Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed. The Supreme Court of Ohio also affirmed, holding that there was no evidence that employer's articulated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for employee's termination, i.e., failure to follow directions, was pretext for pregnancy discrimination.

Kroh v. Continental General Tire, Inc. Supreme Court of Ohio (2001)

Gender discrimination

Plaintiff Kroh filed a suit against Continental General Tire, Inc., claiming that it discriminated against her based on her gender, in violation of R.C. 4112.02 and 4112.99. After trial, the jury found for Kroh, awarding her $ 708,000 in damages. The appellate court reversed, finding that Kroh did not demonstrate that she was treated differently from similarly situated male employees. Kroh was promoted to cash manager after working for approximately twenty years for General Tire. Kroh was the only cash manager so she couldn’t compare herself to anyone with exactly the same duties. However, Ohio Supreme Court found that the male managers to whom she compared herself reported to the same boss, had similar titles, were at a similar level on the company’s organizational chart and had the same salary classification.” The court concluded that Kroh was similarly situated to non-protected employees in all relevant respects and concluded that therefore, there was credible evidence based on which reasonable minds could reach different conclusions, and thus did not reverse a jury verdict.

Felton v. Felton Supreme Court of Ohio (1997)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Trial court issued a protective order based on testimony of violent episodes of appellant’s husband. Because of these episodes, she feared that he would kill her. She filed criminal charges of domestic violence against him, and the county court issued a temporary protection order. The court held that the testimony regarding the former husband’s violent tendencies warranted the issuance of a protective order, and the fact that the marriage dissolution decree already forbade them from harassing each other didn’t bar the issuance of the order. It held that the preponderance of the evidence standard applied.

State v. Goff Supreme Court of Ohio (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Defendant Megan Goff shot and killed her estranged husband. The State moved the trial court to order Goff to submit to a psychological examination, knowing that she planned to use battered women’s theory in her defense. The court held that a defendant’s right against self-incrimination is not violated when the court orders the defendant to submit to a psychiatric evaluation by a state expert in response to the defendant’s assertion of battered women’s syndrome. However, to preserve the right, the examination must be limited to information regarding battered women’s syndrome and “whether the defendant’s actions were affected by the syndrome.” In this case, the examination and testimony were not so limited; therefore, the court held that the defendant’s right against self-incrimination was violated. One of the State’s experts testified about inconsistencies in the defendant’s statements.

Ohio Government Risk Management Plan v. Harrison Supreme Court of Ohio (2007)

Sexual harassment

The Court held that alleged 13 by police chief was not outside the scope of his employment; therefore the insurer owed the police chief a duty to defend him in a lawsuit brought by a former employee alleging 13. Plaintiff alleged that defendant used the department’s computer system to distribute pornographic images and emails and also used hidden electronic devices to record female employees in the restroom. Plaintiff filed a five-count complaint that included claims for hostile work environment due to her gender and a sex-discrimination claim. She sued him in his individual and official capacity, arguing that he acted in his official capacity as chief of police. At the time, the Ohio Government Risk Management Plan provided liability insurance coverage to Harrison, the police chief. It filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that it had no duty to provide coverage or a defense to Harrison. The court held that whether acts fall within the scope of employment will vary from case to case; however, the court would not find that 13 always lies outside the scope of employment. Whether or not acts occurred within the scope of employment “turns on the fact-finder’s perception of whether the supervisor acted, or believed himself to have acted, at least in part, in his employer’s interests.” The Court also examined the language of the policy and held that the insurer had a duty to defend.