The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Ohio Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the parents of a Mentor, Ohio high-school student who committed suicide after being bullied by classmates. In a 7-0 opinion, the justices said the case was “improvidently accepted for review,” meaning they should not have agreed to hear it in the first place.
The suit filed by the parents of 17-year-old Eric Mohat now reverts to U.S. District Judge Donald C. Nugent, who had asked the Supreme Court to rule regarding the applicability of state law on the statute of limitations. Bill and Janis Mohat, Eric’s parents, sued Mentor High School officials in 2009, just short of two years after their son committed suicide. His parents alleged in their complaint that for months before Eric’s suicide, he “endured harassment and bullying at school at the hands of numerous other students.”
Schools officials responded by saying the Mohats’ negligence might have contributed to his decision to commit suicide. Further, they argued that the two-year statute of limitations applied because the Mohats had not set up an estate for the son at the time the suit was filed. The judge referred the case to the high court to consider the statute-of-limitations issue.
Source: Columbus Dispatch, 3/31/11, By Alan Johnson
[Editor's Note: The Ohio Supreme Court's brief opinion offers no explanation for why it declined to resolve the federal court's certified question other than the following: "Sua sponte, we now conclude that the certified question of state law was improvidently accepted for review." Sua sponte means the court acted on its own motion without any of the parties requesting the court's action. The question before the supreme court was: whether, under Ohio law an action filed on behalf of a decedent before an estate is legally established by someone who is not a legally appointed administrator or personal representative (i.e., is without the capacity to sue on the decedent’s behalf), is barred by the statute of limitations if later, after the running of the statute of limitations but before resolution of the claims, an estate is legally established and an administrator or personal representative is duly appointed and named in the Complaint – or whether the formation of the estate and the appointment of the administrator relates back to the original filing of the claims. A summary of the opinion is available at the first link below.
In February 2011, the News Herald reported on the oral argument before the Ohio Supreme Court. The article said the justices would be deciding whether certain claims made by the estate of Eric Mohat can proceed in federal court. A summary of the article is available at the second link below.]