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Local House lawmakers target caps in tort actions resulting from violent crimes

Special to the Legal News

Published: February 15, 2017

A pair of Columbus area state lawmakers want to remove caps on certain damages for victims of some of the most violent crimes.

Recently, Reps. Anne Gonzales, R-Westerville, and Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus, introduced a measure to do just in tort actions brought by victims of rape, felonious assault, aggravated assault, assault, or negligent assault.

House Bill 20 adds the following language to section 2315.18 of the Ohio Revised Code:

"There shall not be any limitation on the amount of compensatory damages that represents damages for noneconomic loss that is recoverable in a tort action brought by the victim of the offense of rape, felonious assault, aggravated assault, assault, or negligent assault asserting any claim resulting from the rape, felonious assault, aggravated assault, assault, or negligent assault."

The bill defines a noneconomic loss as nonpecuniary harm relating to an injury or loss to person or property, such as pain and suffering, loss of society, consortium, companionship, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, or education, disfigurement, mental anguish, and any other intangible loss.

Unchanged in the current law is the manner in which a jury determines damages for noneconomic loss. Juries are not to consider evidence of a defendant's alleged wrongdoing, misconduct, or guilt; any evidence of the defendant's wealth or financial resources; or any other evidence that is offered for the purpose of punishing the defendant, rather than offered for a compensatory purpose.

The section of law doesn't apply to tort actions brought against the state in the court of claims, tort actions that are brought against political subdivisions of this state or wrongful death actions brought pursuant to Chapter 2125 of the Revised Code.

Nine fellow House members joined Gonzales and Boggs to cosponsor the measure.

HB 20 had not been assigned to a committee for further hearing as of publication deadline.

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