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Ohio Supreme Court Sanctions Attorneys for Frivolous Conduct

by | Nov 27, 2023 | Firm News

It’s one thing to make good-faith arguments to try to get the Ohio Supreme Court to revisit a decision that’s bad for your client, and change Ohio law.

It’s another to engage in the “ostrich-like tactic” of acting as if the bad law doesn’t exist – and worse, to do it repeatedly.

This morning, the Court disciplined a trio of Cleveland lawyers for doing that in H.R. v. P.J.E., Slip Opinion 2023-Ohio-4185. P.J.E. was to pay child support to H.R., for whom the trio filed a motion to modify the award. When the trial court denied H.R.’s motion to continue the hearing, the trio representing H.R. appealed to the Eighth District that same day.

The Eighth District dismissed the appeal for lack of a final, appealable order. So, the trio sought review in the Supreme Court, asking it to decide whether the denial of a continuance is a final, appealable order.

However, the Court decided long ago that the denial of a continuance isn’t a final, appealable order. The trio never acknowledged the Court’s controlling precedent — not only in this case but in three other cases they had brought to the Court earlier this year seeking review of the same issue.

In a strongly-worded per curiam opinion, the Court essentially decided today that enough was enough. It ordered the trio to pay P.J.E.’s attorneys fees, but did not stop there. The Court also took the dramatic actions of declaring all three lawyers to be vexatious litigators under Sup.Ct.Prac.R. 4.03(A), imposing restrictions on their ability to file anything in the Supreme Court, and ordering each of the three lawyers to notify the Eighth District Court of Appeals of today’s vexatious-litigator ruling in every case they have pending there. What impact that will have on their clients’ cases at the Eighth District is unknown.