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The Judicial Branch Should Not “Read Between the Lines” to Find an Implied Cause of Action in a Statute Not Specifically Created by the Legislative Branch

In the case of Augustine v. Bd. of Edn. of the Toledo City Sch. Dist., Lucas C.P. No. G-4801-CI-202202888-000 (Jan. 26, 2023), a common pleas court refused to find that an implied cause of action exists under R.C. 5123.61(L), which provides that “[n]o employer or any person with the authority to do so shall discharge, demote, transfer, prepare a negative work performance evaluation, reduce pay or benefits, terminate work privileges, or take any other action detrimental to an employee or retaliate against an employee as a result of the employee’s having made a report under this section.”

In this case, the employee argued that R.C. 5123.64 provides a remedy for a person with a developmental disability if R.C. 5123.61 is violated, which includes “the filing of a legal action to enforce rights or to recover damages for violation of rights,” and, therefore, an implied cause of action exists. In response, the school board argued that, while violating other sections of R.C. 5123.61 constitute crimes, R.C. 5123.61(L) is not specifically included in this remedy and, as a result, the General Assembly clearly intended for certain remedies to exist throughout R.C. Chapter 5123 but did not provide a remedy specifically for R.C. 5123.61(L). The common pleas court agreed with the school board.

In support of its decision in favor of the school board, the common pleas court relied upon guidance from the Ohio Supreme Court and explained that:

Justice Kennedy of the Ohio Supreme Court recently remarked in a concurrence “[t]he idea that a court should read between the lines of statutory text to recognize an implied cause of action is a relic from a different time.” She also found that the Ohio Supreme Court has very rarely utilized the doctrine and found that the doctrine “runs counter to the basic theory of the tripartite form of government.” As such, the Court will not *** determine that an implied cause of action exists in R.C. 5123.61(L).

Decision and Judgment Entry at 3.

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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