Landskroner Grieco Merriman, LLC, argued in favor of strengthening the law
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Ohio’s Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a family’s right to pursue financial compensation after one of their children was physically abused by a relative, a decision applauded by Landskroner Grieco Merriman, LLC, a Cleveland-based law firm and the founders of the Landskroner Foundation for Children.
“This decision by the state’s highest court will hopefully send a strong message heard loud and clear that the abuse of children will not be tolerated under any circumstances,” attorney Jack Landskroner said. “Our law firm and our non-profit foundation take these issues very seriously. That’s why we applaud Ohio’s Supreme Court today for doing the right thing. This court’s decision is a victory for all children throughout Ohio.”
Working on behalf of the Landskroner Foundation for Children, Landskroner Grieco Merriman, LLC and attorney Drew Legando urged the court to rule in favor of the rights of the family to seek compensation. The court’s ruling concerned whether a mother and her children could seek punitive damages (financial compensation) for an attack against one of the children by a relative, according to the court’s 13-page ruling released on March 15, 2016.
In the ruling, the court described the incident on June 29, 2010 which resulted in the case being filed by the mother of the two young girls, who were 5- and 2-years-old at the time. According to court documents, the two children were at a relative’s house when the relative put a pillow over the 5-year-old’s face with one hand and held the child down by the neck with the other hand.
The mother personally witnessed this incident and immediately removed the two children from the relative’s house. The mother then reported the incident to the police and took the child to the emergency room, where the child was treated for injuries sustained in the attack. Later that year, the mother filed a civil lawsuit against the relative that attacked the child, who was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder and suffers from nightmares, anxiety and anger-related issues, according to the court’s March 15 decision.
The relative who assaulted the child died in April 2011, but a judge ruled that the family’s civil lawsuit could continue against the estate of the deceased relative for damages. On May 2013, a trial court awarded $50,000 in limited compensatory damages to the family. But the court ruled that the family could not be awarded punitive damages. Then on March 15, 2016, Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed that decision, giving the family the right to seek punitive damages against the estate of the relative that abused a 5-year-old child.
“This ruling is an important step in the right direction,” Landskroner said. “Punitive damages serve an important role in our society. As the appeals court notes in its decision, punitive damages are not just meant to punish the offending party. Punitive damages send a strong message to others that there are consequences for such actions. No amount of money can change what happened to an abused child. But hopefully, such rulings will put a stop to similar abuse in the future.”
The case is Whetstone, Appellee vs. Binner, Admr. Appellant., Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-1006
Link to Ohio Supreme Court Decision can be found here.