Ohio Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Ohio Woman Who Challenged State’s Damages Cap in Childhood Sex Abuse Cases
COLUMBUS, OH, January 27, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that limits on pain and suffering awards for childhood sexual abuse survivors is unconstitutional. This is a win for Ohio resident Amanda Brandt, represented by attorney John Fitch, founder and lead attorney of The Fitch Law Firm LLC.
In a 4-3 split decision issued in December 2022, the court rejected limiting financial awards for childhood sexual abuse survivors. Formerly, damages were capped at $250,000. This ruling now clears the way for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to pursue higher awards if they decide to bring lawsuits against their abusers.
$20 Million in Damages Taken Away From Child Sexual Abuse Survivor
Roy Pompa, convicted of abusing Brandt and four other girls between 2005 and 2006, was convicted and sentenced to more than 450 years in prison in 2007. In 2018, Brandt brought a civil lawsuit against Pompa for the sexual abuse she suffered between the ages of 11 and 12 (Brandt v. Pompa).
A jury initially awarded Brandt $134 million in damages, which is believed to be one of the largest personal injury verdicts in Ohio’s history. Of those damages, $20 million was for her pain and suffering after this law took effect in April of 2005. A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge, however, reduced the $20 million portion of the award in accordance with a 2005 state law that limits compensation for child rape survivors in Ohio.
The judge’s ruling lowered the award from $20 million to $250,000, the state’s cap. The decision prompted Brandt and Fitch to challenge the constitutionality of Ohio’s cap in 2020. Fitch says such a cap is “a horrific injustice for children who are raped or otherwise sexually abused.”
Fitch, a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer and longtime advocate and defender of sexual abuse survivors, asserted in his appeal that it is unreasonable and arbitrary to limit non-economic damages for individuals who were abused “when they suffer mental, rather than physical, harm and are likely to have little economic losses stemming from jobs.”
“Ohio law severely restricts childrens’ civil rights while it protects the rights of people found responsible for raping children … and those who cover up their misconduct,” he added.
Court Rules Damages Cap for Child Sexual Abuse Cases ‘Arbitrary and Unreasonable’
The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments on the matter in March 2022 and issued its ruling in December of the same year. Retiring Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote the opinion of the court, saying:
“[The] Statutory cap on awards of compensatory damages for noneconomic losses set forth in R.C. 2315.18 is arbitrary and unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional as applied to plaintiff and similarly situated plaintiffs who were child victims of intentional criminal conduct, such as sexual abuse, and who bring civil actions to recover damages from the persons who have been found guilty of those intentional criminal acts to the extent that it fails to include an exception for plaintiffs who have suffered permanent and severe psychological injuries.”
The Ohio Supreme Court’s decision reversed the previous judgment and reinstated Brandt’s $20 million jury verdict award. Three Republican Justices, Fisher, Kennedy, and Dewine, dissented. Fitch says Brandt’s case can help others who have survived child sexual abuse and encourage them to pursue cases against those who have harmed them.
About The Fitch Law Firm LLC
The Fitch Law Firm LLC, based in Columbus, Ohio, helps people throughout Ohio to pursue compensation for the injuries and losses they suffer because of someone else’s negligence. For more than 30 years, lead attorney John Fitch has represented individuals and families in various cases involving motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, brain injuries, disabilities, and more.
The firm has recovered monetary awards that help injured people move forward with their lives. If you or a loved one is seeking legal representation in Ohio, call or fill out a contact form for a free consultation.
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