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Ohio Supreme Court Backs Damage Caps, Even in Child Sex Abuse Cases

A recent affirmation from the Ohio Supreme Court is catching national attention due to its impact on a child sex abuse case. Several years after a 15-year old girl was raped by her pastor, an injury case was filed against the offender; the jury would ultimately rule in favor of the plaintiff and award $3.5 million in damages to cover for physical injury and, most notably, a lifetime of mental trauma. However, the young woman and her family only stand to collect around $250,000. Why?

Tort Reform Law Limits Rewards

In 2005, Ohio voters approved of a tort reform law that put a significant limitation on noneconomic damages, such as emotional scarring. The bill was meant to combat frivolous lawsuits that clogged up the court system. What might not have been known by most voters at the time of approval, though, is that the noneconomic damage cap applies to all injury claims in the state.

The girl’s lawyer argued to the justices that a child sex abuse and rape case was certainly severe and unique enough to be considered only within its own margins. Justice Judi French did concede that the seriousness of the woman’s psychological harm was indeed significant but that was not enough to alter the ruling. The blanket damage cap stood unchanged and the woman will collect the reduced amount, plus attorney fees.

With the attention that the ruling has garnered, it brings forth the question of whether or not the noneconomic damage cap should be retained the way it is now or adjusted again. Unfortunately for the plaintiff in the child sex abuse case, if the law is reformed, it would likely be too late to appeal the ruling and seek the original $3.5 million amount.

For more information about this story, The Columbus Dispatch published a full article, which can be seen by clicking here. If you would like to speak to a Columbus personal injury about a claim of your own, you can call 614.321.3212 to reach Rourke and Blumenthal. You can even start off with a free case evaluation.