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We are proud to share with you announcements concerning current legal developments, our recent accomplishments and other news & information that may be of interest to our friends and clients.

New Ohio Safety Bike Law Takes Effect

For all those motor vehicle operators who waived me on over the weekend (or otherwise wished me a fun bike ride or perhaps something else - it’s really hard to hear you as you blare your horn while passing me) while I was lawfully riding my bike as close as practical to the right side curb of the road, a recent amendment to Ohio’s laws respecting the operation of motor vehicles now requires a motor vehicle to overtake or pass a bicycle with three feet or greater distance in order to be considered a safe passing distance.

Title 45 of the Ohio Revised Code contains the laws that govern operation of vehicles on Ohio roads.  A bicycle is defined as a vehicle and thus is governed by a uniform set of rules common to all vehicles and a small set of specific rules for bicycles. 

To be sure, bicycles are required to ride on the right side of road. Riding on the left is both illegal and dangerous.

Section 4511.55(A) is very often misunderstood. Cyclists are required to ride as near as practical to the curb.  It is not practicable to ride on the far right when passing or turning left; or when avoiding objects, parked cars, moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface or other hazards; or when the travel lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to pass safely side by side within the lane. Remember, three feet or greater distance is required when passing a bicycle!

Also, for the record, section 4511.55(B) allows riding two abreast.  However, cyclists should avoid unnecessary delay to other traffic. Cyclists should be courteous and "single up" when other drivers wish to pass if such passing is safe and reasonable.  There is no violation if any of the following apply:  (1) If there is no traffic being delayed; (2) If the cyclists are traveling as fast as other traffic; (3) If traffic can reasonably pass by using another lane; or (4) If the lane is too narrow or it is otherwise unsafe for passing.

Finally, for those who were kind enough to suggest that I use the sidewalk, Ohio law allows (but does not require) a cyclist to use the sidewalk. However, accident studies show that even low-speed sidewalk riding has about double the accident rate as riding on the road. Vehicles are more likely to see a cyclist on the road than on a sidewalk.

Should you have questions regarding safe motor vehicle operation, bikes, or the civil justice system in general, please feel free to contact David M. Cuppage, Esq. at 216-621-8484.


CWP&G files lawsuit on Behalf of the City of Dayton Relating to the Opioid  Epidemic

CWP&G and Napoli Shkolnik, a New York based, nationally recognized law firm, filed a lengthy, detailed lawsuit on behalf of the City of Dayton, Ohio, at the request of Mayor Nan Whaley, naming numerous defendants including major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors directly involved in the opioid epidemic. 

In 1994, the Climaco Firm was one of the first law firms nationwide which successfully filed a class action against the tobacco industry alleging the nicotine addiction theory.  The lawsuits against the tobacco industry resulted in a $246 billion class action settlement against the tobacco industry.

If you have any questions regarding the opioid-based lawsuit, please contact John R. Climaco and/or David M. Cuppage at 216-621-8484.


New Gun Law to Affect Ohio’s Employers

A recent amendment to Ohio’s carrying a concealed gun law, R.C. §2923.1210, effective March 17, 2017, now prohibits a private business entity from having a policy that prohibits a concealed handgun licensee from transporting or storing a firearm in the person's motor vehicle while on company owned parking facilities. This amendment will require Ohio’s employers to revisit their employee handbooks, manuals and other policies concerning the carrying of concealed weapons.

Specifically, the new law provides that a business entity, property owner, or public or private employer may not establish, maintain, or enforce a policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting a person who has been issued a valid concealed handgun license from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition when both of the following conditions are met: (1) each firearm and all of the ammunition remains inside the person's privately owned motor vehicle while the person is physically present inside the motor vehicle, or each firearm and all of the ammunition is locked within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or container within or on the person's privately owned motor vehicle; and (2) the vehicle is in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.

Ohio law provides immunity to business entities, property owners, and public or private employers from liability in any civil action for damages, injuries, or death resulting from or arising out of another person's actions involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored inside the person’s privately owned motor vehicle including the theft of a firearm from an employee's or invitee's automobile, unless the business entity, property owner, or public or private employer intentionally solicited or procured the other person's injurious actions.

As a result of these new amendments, it is wise for any employer to amend their employee handbooks, manuals or other policies to provide: “Unless otherwise authorized by law, pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code, no person shall knowingly possess, have under the person's control, convey, or attempt to convey a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance onto these premises.”

Should you have questions regarding the any employment related matters of the civil justice system in general, please feel free to contact David M. Cuppage, Esq. at 216-621-8484.


Corrected Commercial Real Property Values Save CWP&G Clients Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Property Taxes

CWP&G Partner Pat Ritzert has obtained corrections to property valuations for several of our clients whose real property was over-valued by Ohio county auditors.  These corrections reduced 2015 property valuations by over $7,827,000 in total, saving our clients more than $540,000 in real property taxes for the tax years 2015 through 2018.

If you have any questions regarding the process to assess and correct your commercial real property valuations, please contact Patricia “Pat” Ritzert at 216-621-8484.


On-line Opinions are Generally not Considered Actionable; However, On-line Defamation Can Result in Substantial Liability

Two recent court of appeals decisions outline the do’s and don’ts of on-line communications. Free expression of opinion is still protected speech. However, publishing defamatory opinions on the internet can result in substantial liability.

On one hand, the Seventh District Court of Appeals, in the case captioned Gentile v. Turkoly, 2017-Ohio-1018, reaffirmed the general principle that the on-line expression of an unfavorable opinion is generally not actionable in a court of law. In this case, Ms. Turkoly hired Dr. Gentile to perform plastic surgery. Suffice it to say, Ms. Turkoly was not satisfied with the surgery.

Following the surgery, Ms. Turkoly successfully sued Dr. Gentile for medical malpractice and also expressed her opinion on the website “” In her review, she stated, among other things, that “he mislead me in the consultation” and that the readers should “Stay away for this Unscrupulous Dr.” Apparently, at least one reader did stay away from Dr. Gentile and cancelled a previously scheduled appointment.

Dr. Gentile then sued Ms. Turkoly for interference with contract and business relations. After the trial court granted Ms. Turkoly a directed verdict at trial, Dr. Gentile took an appeal. The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that Dr. Gentile failed to state a claim for interference with business relations for many reasons. Among those reasons given was the general principle of law that the expression of an opinion is not actionable.

The District Court stated that Dr. Gentile was required to prove Ms. Turkoly “knew [the statements] were false or acted with reckless disregard of whether they were true or false.” Merely communicating a good faith opinion to another person does not rise to the level of tortious interference. Indeed, the Ohio Supreme Court has recognized that expressions of opinion are generally protected under the Ohio Constitution. In determining whether speech is a protected opinion, a court must consider the totality of the circumstances. The court must consider “the specific language at issue, whether the statement is verifiable must be considered, the general context of the statement, and the broader context in which the statement appeared.”

On the other hand, the Sixth District Court of Appeals, in the case captioned Forinash v. Weber, 2017-Ohio-107, reaffirmed the general principle of law that in a defamation per se case, damages are presumed. In this case, Forinash filed a complaint with the trial court, stemming from a written post Weber published on her Facebook profile, in which she stated that Forinash was “hooked on porn [and] watches dirty movies with teenage girls.” This statement was determined to be false and defamatory per se. Following a court trial, Forinash was awarded the amount of $100 in nominal damages, $500 in punitive damages, along with $22,000 in attorney fees. The trial court reasoned that the post was most likely read only in Sandusky County, Ohio. The Court of Appeals, however, disagreed, reasoning “[t]he record contains no competent and credible evidence to support the court’s finding that appellee’s defamatory statements were only viewed by residents of Sandusky County. Further, it would defy reality to conclude that a post on a social networking internet site such as Facebook is in any way limited in its geographic reach.”

In sum, the thoughtful expression of one’s opinion is protected speech but care should be exercised when engaging in on-line communications.

Should you have questions regarding the civil justice system, please feel free to contact David M. Cuppage, Esq. at 216-621-8484.