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Claims in a Complaint Against Political Subdivisions Simply Need to Give Notice of an Exception to Political Immunity

In the case of Carroll v. Cuyahoga Community College, 2023-Ohio-3628, an appellate court, in a plurality decision, held that while a college has political immunity for intentional tort claims, such as retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the college does not have such blanket immunity for claims under Ohio Revised Code 4112 et seq. when a professor is alleged to have denied a student appropriate disability accommodations and the college is alleged to have retaliated against the student for reporting the professor. In such circumstances, a determination as to the applicability of immunity is not appropriate at the motion to dismiss stage.

In this case, the college argued that to survive a motion to dismiss, the student must affirmatively plead that immunity does not apply under R.C. 2744.02 in the complaint.  In response, the student argued that it is not necessary to dispose of immunity issues within the four corners of the complaint. The appellate court agreed with the student.

In support of its decision in favor of the student, the appellate court explained that Ohio does not require the student to prove the lack of immunity within the complaint, particularly, as in this case, the issue of immunity requires a factual determination relative to the use of the professor’s discretion to deny disability accommodations, or whether the conduct was manifestly outside the scope of employment, malicious, in bad faith, or done with wanton or reckless disregard. The appellate court further explained, however, that dismissal was appropriate as to the intentional tort claims as it is well-settled that a political subdivision is immune from such claims.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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