Stinziano Introduces Bill To Modernize and Streamline Court of Claims Operations

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Operations at the Court of Claims of Ohio would be streamlined and brought into the 21st Century, under a bill introduced by state Rep. Michael Stinziano.

“As the court where civil disputes against the state of Ohio are heard, it’s time that the operations of the Court of Claims of Ohio be modernized,” said Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat, attorney and the ranking Democrat member of the House Judiciary Committee. “I’m pleased to be able to help the court in this endeavor and I encourage my colleagues to adopt this common-sense plan.”

Among other things, House Bill 261 would:

Abolish the office of Court of Claims commissioner. The commissioners are appointed by the Justices of the Supreme Court and add a layer of unnecessary bureaucracy to the Court of Claims process.  Cases can be initially handled by magistrates on staff at the Court of Claims in a more cost effective and efficient manner.

Transfer the powers of a judge of the Court of Claims to the court.

Specify certain powers of a Court of Claims magistrate.

The measure is supported by the Supreme Court of Ohio as well as the Court of Claims of Ohio.

The bill is expected to be assigned to a standing House committee for further study.         

The Court of Claims is given original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the State of Ohio and its agencies. The court also hears appeals from decisions made by the Attorney General on claims allowed under the Victims of Crime Act.

The Court of Claims decides civil claims that typically involve contract disputes, property damage, personal injury, immunity of state officers and employees, discrimination, and wrongful imprisonment. The Chief Justice assigns judges to hear such cases. In almost every instance, a single judge will hear a case, but the Chief Justice may assign a panel of three judges to a civil action that presents novel or complex issues of law and fact.