In December 2006, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed to answer nine questions challenging the constitutionality of Senate Bill 80. These questions were certified from the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division in Groch v. General Motors Corp. (Case No. 2006-1914).
Eight of the questions relate to (1) the workers’ compensation subrogation statutes and (2) the statute of repose for products. The ninth question certified relates to the entirety of the Bill and specifically states: “Does Senate Bill 80 violate the one-subject rule, Art. II, Section 15, of the Ohio Constitution?” Thus, it’s clear that the Court’s answers to these questions will have an impact far beyond the context of those cases involving workers’ compensation subrogation or statute of repose issues.
In Groch, an employee of General Motors was injured while operating a trim press on the job. The plaintiff sued GM alleging an employment intentional tort and also sued the manufacturers of the trim press alleging a products liability claim. Plaintiff’s wife filed a claim for loss of consortium. GM asserted a subrogation interest in Plaintiff’s tort recovery for its payment to him of workers’ compensation benefits. In response, Plaintiff asserted that the Ohio statutes granting GM’s subrogation rights (Ohio Revised Codes Sections 4123.93 and 4123.931) are unconstitutional. The defendants that manufactured the trim press asserted that they are immune from liability pursuant to the statute of repose for products liability claims (R.C. 2305.10). Plaintiff argues that the statute of repose for products liability claims is unconstitutional on several grounds, including that it violates the ban on retroactive laws.
This case has now been fully briefed and oral argument is schedule to take place on September 19, 2007.