Is R C 2317.45 Enacted As Part of the Tort Reform Act of 1987 Unconstitutional ?
In Sorrell v. Thevenir (1994), 69 Ohio St. 3d 415, 633 N.E.2d 504, the Ohio State Supreme Court held that R.C. 2317.45, enacted as part of the Tort Reform Act of 1987, was unconstitutional.
As enacted, R.C. 2317.45 required trial courts to deduct from a plaintiff's jury award collateral benefits which either had been or would be received by plaintiff. Sorrell, 69 Ohio St. 3d at 422.
The infirmity of 2317.45 was that it did not distinguish the characteristics of a jury award, i.e., there was no mechanism for a plaintiff to determine whether the jury award was compensatory, or for pain and suffering, or for a combination of the two.
Thus, an award implicitly intended for pain and suffering could have been readily mitigated by deducting therefrom any collateral benefits received strictly for compensation.
In such fashion, the statute indiscriminately violated a plaintiff's right to have a jury determine his right to damages. Id. "
As plainly illustrated by Mrs. Sorrell's case, R.C. 2317.45 can wipe out an entire jury award and essentially grant the tortfeasor a rebate for the damages he caused." Id.