Full text of the Court's opinion

New rules enacted by the Supreme Court of Ohio, such as App.R. 131 and Sup.R. 272 permit Ohio appellate courts to establish and enforce local electronic filing rules. In light of this new authority, on February 4, 2009, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that in jurisdictions in which electronic filing rules have not been established, a party seeking an appeal must file a paper copy of a notice of appeal with the clerk of the appropriate trial court pursuant to App.R. 3. Louden v. A.O. Smith Corp. (February 4, 2009), Slip Opinion No. 2009-Ohio-319. Failure to timely file a paper copy of a notice of appeal in jurisdictions in which a local rule permitting an electronic notice has not been established will deem a party's right to appeal effectively waived.

In Louden, two plaintiffs in two separate cases filed wrongful death suits against manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos-containing materials. The plaintiffs were wives of husbands who allegedly were exposed to asbestos in the workplace. The trial court consolidated the cases and granted summary judgment for the defendants on May 4, 2007. That same day, plaintiffs' counsel filed an electronic notice of appeal with the clerk of courts for Cuyahoga County. On July 24, 2007 a paper copy of the notice of appeal was filed with the clerk of courts.

The court of appeals dismissed the appeal because the plaintiffs failed to timely file the paper copy of the notice of appeal within the 30-day time frame for perfecting appeals. The Ohio Supreme Court held that because the Eighth District does not have a local rule permitting the electronic filing of a notice of appeal, the electronic filing was ineffective in perfecting plaintiffs' appeal within the applicable time frame. The Court further held the subsequent paper filing was untimely and therefore also ineffective in timely perfecting plaintiffs' appeal.

This ruling emphasizes the importance of local rules and the need for attorneys to be vigilant in checking them. In jurisdictions where local electronic rules have been established3 the electronic filing rules should be followed for filing the notice of appeal.