Run Over Our Citizens, But Don’t Mess With Our Soybeans

By: Thomas J. Diehl (In 2008)  With the enactment of Senate Bill 80, damages in many tort actions are capped.  The jury’s determination of rightful compensation to a Plaintiff will be disregarded in many circumstances.  In any claim for damages for injury or loss to person or property, including product liability claims, a plaintiff who has suffered non-catastrophic or noneconomic damages is limited to the greater of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000) or three times the economic loss,but not to exceed Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($350,000).                  EXAMPLE NO. 1:    Plaintiff is injured in a non-catastrophic motorcycle accident and incurs medical bills of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) and a wage loss of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000), for total special damages of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000).  The most he can receive for his non-economic loss (i.e. pain and suffering) is Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000).  3 x $15,000 = $45,000.  Plaintiff is entitled to three times economic loss or Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000), whichever is greater.                  EXAMPLE NO. 2:    Plaintiff is injured in a non-catastrophic loss and incurs medical bills of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) and wage loss of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000), for a total loss of One Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($125,000).  If a jury awards pain and suffering of Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000), that portion of the jury verdict will be reduced to Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($350,000), because of the cap.       It seems odd that the Ohio legislature would protect drunk and reckless drivers at the expense of truly injured persons.  Although the Ohio Legislature limits the recovery available to a plaintiff seriously injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, it has made certain that producers of corn, wheat and soybeans injured by someone speaking badly of their products are fully compensated.  Ohio Rev. Code §2307.81 subjects anyone who falsely disparages an Ohio agricultural or aquacultural food product, to “in addition to any award of punitive damages, damages in an amount up to three times the amount of compensatory damages.”       Thus, the Ohio Legislature has chosen to place a cap on the damages a drunk driver will pay, while it subjects those that may dare to disparage a soybean to treble damages.

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