Hunt v. Ohio Dep't of Rehab. & Corr.

90 Ohio Misc. 2d 42, 696 N.E.2d 674 (Ct. Cl. 1997)

 

RULE:

Ohio's comparative negligence statute, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2315.19, bars a plaintiff from recovery if his or her actions were a greater cause, more than 50 percent, of his injuries than any acts of a defendant.

FACTS:

A correction officer instructed the inmate and another on how to operate a snowblower, which they used in cleaning the yard the following day. The inmate put the snowblower in neutral and turned the power switch off in order to clean the chute, which had become clogged. The machine caught the inmate's glove and partially severed some of her fingers. The officer had been cautioned by the maintenance department not to place one's hand in the chute and to unclog it with water or a device. Plaintiff inmate filed a negligence action against defendant department of correction for injuries suffered when she put her hand in a snowblower chute to unclog it. Judgment rendered in favor of plaintiff in amount of $10,800 which includes incurred medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, inability to perform usual activities, and emotional distress due to defendant's negligence.

ISSUE:

Whether defendant negligently instructed and trained plaintiff to operate a snowblower.

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court determined that the department was negligent in failing to warn and to train the inmate. The inmate was not advised against putting her hand in the chute or to wait for the blades to stop after turning the machine off. Thus, the department failed to reasonably protect the inmate from harm, as it was required to do. Nevertheless, the contributory negligence attributable to the inmate was 40 percent given that she disregarded a potential hazard and did not use common sense by inserting her hand in the chute. That did not preclude her recovery of damages, however, which was an issue scheduled for trial.

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