Warren County Jail wrongful death lawsuit returned to trial court

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A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of the Warren County Jail inmate who died by suicide will proceed in a Warren County trial court, according to an Ohio Supreme Court ruling.

Bonita Stewart filed the case after the death of her son, Justin Stewart, on Aug. 30, 2016. The lawsuit alleged jail staff ignored multiple warning signs that Justin Stewart had mental health issues, according to a previous Dayton Daily News report.

On Dec. 30, 2020, a Warren County court denied a motion to dismiss the case, according the court records. In the motion, Solutions Community Counseling and Recovery Centers reportedly argued it had legal immunity from liability as a mental health provider under the Ohio Revised Code.

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Solutions Community Counseling and Recovery Centers appealed the decision to the Ohio Twelfth District Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower court’s decision. The appeals court ruled 2-1 that immunity applies when a patient causes physical harm to someone else, but not when they harm themselves, according to Court News Ohio.

The mental health provider then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled to send the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

“An appellate court has authority to review only final orders, and without a final order, an appellate court has no jurisdiction,” read a slip opinion from the Ohio Supreme Court. In this case, the trial court’s denial of appellants’ motion to dismiss was not a final, appealable order, and the trial court’s entry … did not make it so.”

Because the motion to dismiss is not a final order, the Ohio Supreme Court and district court do not have jurisdiction to issue a judgment, so the case was sent back to the Warren County court, according to the decision.

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Justin Stewart

Justin Stewart

Combined ShapeCaption
Justin Stewart

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