Women and Justice: Jurisdiction

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.

Anania v. Daubenspeck Chiropractic Court of Appeals of Ohio (1998)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

Two former employees of the defendant were subjected to repeated instances of sexual harassment by the clinic’s patients. The employees alleged that they complained to the defendant about the conduct, but he failed to take any corrective action. They filed suit in the Clark County Court of Common Pleas alleging sexual harassment. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, holding that Ohio law did not recognize such a claim based on the conduct of non-employees. The Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed, holding that Ohio Civil Rights law does permit courts to impose liability on employers for non-employees’ sexual harassment at the place of employment.

Edwards v. Ohio Institute of Cardiac Care Court of Appeals of Ohio (2007)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant worked as a scheduler at the Ohio Institute of Cardiac Care when she began to receive emails from her supervisor—approximately six to ten per day—that made her uncomfortable. Her supervisor then began touching her at work, such as on the lower back or shoulder, and his emails became more frequent. After she complained about this conduct, she began to receive tardy forms, and she was soon after fired, allegedly for changing clothes at work before Fourth of July weekend. She filed suit in the Greene County Court of Common Pleas, claiming sexual harassment and retaliation. After a jury trial, the court ruled in the plaintiff’s favor on her harassment claim but for the defendant on the retaliation claim, but the appellate court reversed and remanded because the defendant was entitled to a jury instruction as to its affirmative defense. Notably, the court held as a matter of first impression that a settlement between a supervisory employee and another employee does not extinguish the employer’s liability for sexual harassment claims.

In re Doe Court of Appeals of Ohio (2011)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

A juvenile filed an application seeking permission to have an abortion without parental notification, but the Columbiana County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division dismissed the application, finding that the juvenile was not sufficiently mature and well-informed enough to intelligently decide whether to have an abortion. The Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed and granted her petition. The Court of Appeals determined she was sufficiently mature and well-informed in part due to the following factors: that she was a few months away from turning 18, that she had good grades and planned to attend college in the fall, and that she had been using an oral contraceptive and only became pregnant when she ran out and her prescription expired.

Lascu v. Apex Paper Box Co. Court of Appeals of Ohio (2011)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff-appellant had been employed at Apex for approximately 30 years before being fired in connection with Apex’s reduction in force. She filed suit in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, alleging that she was the victim of gender discrimination. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, and the Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed, holding that her unsupported assertions of discrimination were insufficient to overcome the defendant's legitimate reduction-in-force justification.

Pitts-Baad v. Valvoline Instant Oil Chage Court of Appeals of Ohio (2012)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff-appellant worked as an assistant manager of a Valvoline Instant Oil Change branch. She was on track for a promotion but did not pass all the required courses. When she was eight months pregnant, she tripped and fell at work. On the advice of her doctor, she reported the injury to her employer. Later, when she returned form maternity leave, she found the work environment distrusting, and she was often not permitted to take breaks to pump her breast milk for long periods of time. After she failed to follow correct procedures on an oil change, her employment was terminated. She sued Valvoline alleging gender discrimination and retaliation, but the Stark County Court of Common Pleas granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed, holding that the plaintiff had failed to show that the defendant’s legitimate reason for terminating her employment was not a pretext.

Jones v. MTD Consumer Group, Inc. Court of Appeals of Ohio (2015)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff was fired from his job with MTD Consumer Group after sexually harassing a coworker. He and the coworker had been in a romantic relationship, which had since ended, when the coworker complained that the plaintiff had made a threatening gesture to her and her new boyfriend outside of her home. The plaintiff was also verbally derogatory toward this coworker until his employment was terminated. He sued MTD in the Medina County Court of Common Pleas, alleging reverse gender discrimination and negligent retention of his coworker. The Court granted the employer’s motion for a directed verdict, and the Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed, holding that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support the plaintiff's claim that he was treated differently form a similarly-situated coworker.

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.

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.