“The Ohio Supreme Court noted that proving damages would require the ‘largest forensic title exam ever’ to precisely locate the excluded territory and compute any amount due,” Stephens wrote. “Just because St. Clair Township was unable or unwilling to undergo the ‘largest forensic title exam ever’ before the Ohio Supreme Court, resulting in an adverse decision in that forum, such does not preclude it from that undertaking, if it so desires in the (present) case.”
The cash-strapped township has been wrangling with Hamilton over an annexation law the trustees' lawyer asserts entitles it to 12 years' worth of compensation for money lost due to the annexations. The law was triggered in 2016 when the city asked the county commissioners to form a “paper township” to fix the fact that boundary adjustment approval wasn’t formalized by the county previously.
Hartman told the Journal-News he is pleased with Stephens' decision and they will be able to prove how much the city owes the township. He takes issue with people emphasizing the fact the high court quoted a deputy auditor on the forensic title exam.
“An assistant auditor in the county auditor’s office used that phrase, not knowing what he or she was talking about,” Hartman said. “The Ohio Supreme Court simply said some assistant or deputy auditor said this, the Ohio Supreme Court didn’t characterize it as that. It’s not that complex.”
Hamilton officials did not comment on the court action.
A mediation is scheduled with retired Common Pleas Court Judge H.J. Bressler on Dec. 9.