Chris is the regular news anchor on WQMX's Wynn and Wilson in the Morning and WONE's Tim and Christi in the Morning programs. He first opened a microphone at WZIP-FM at The University of Akron in 1990 but got his first paid radio job delivering weekend news on WZKL-FM & WDPN-AM in Alliance. Chris then moved to WJER AM & FM in Dover where he reported on Tuscarawas County, including stories that made national headlines. Chris has been honored by his peers with first place awards from the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters including Best Reporter, Best Feature Story, and Best Broadcast Writing among others. In addition to his work as a broadcast journalist Chris has also worked in public relations and as an instructor at the University of Akron teaching Broadcast News Writing. Chris enjoys volunteer work, and has served on the boards of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters, Public Relations Society of America (Akron Area Chapter), American Cancer Society Hope Gala Committee and currently serves on the Green Baseball/Softball Federation Board. Contact Chris through the newsroom 330-864-6397 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Father Sam is out of jail.
The man who founded Interval Brotherhood Home has been released from a federal prison in West Virginia, according the Beacon Journal. Father Sam Ciccolini was thrown behind bars on banking and fraud charges. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $834,000.
Ciccolini repaid $1.2 million to IBH as well. Audits showed that everything added up. Ciccolini was never charged with theft.
Previous AkronNewsNow coverage: Akron Priest Resentenced on Bank Fraud Charges
On the Web: www.ohio.com
The Ohio Supreme Court reports a 67% passage rate on the Ohio Bar Exam in February.
426 people tried and 286 can now officially call themselves lawyers - at least after they're sworn in on Monday. The current passage rate to previous years. 63% passed the bar last February and nearly 70% the year before that.
The high court says 80% of first-timers earned passing scores.
41 of the successful test takers are from The University of Akron School of Law.
Bond is set at $1 million cash for Shawn Ford, 18, of Akron in connection with the beating deaths of Jeffrey and Margaret Schobert in their New Franklin home.
Ford appeared via video from the Summit County Jail for an arraignment hearing, although a formal plea will be entered later. Today, Ford listened to the indictment filed against him, which includes multiple counts of aggravated murder and related specifications that allow a jury or judicial panel to consider options. One of those options could land Ford on Ohio's death row.
Although Ford did not appear in person, he should still know his way around the Summit County Courthouse. He's only been a legal adult less than 7 months, but has two other cases pending in adult court. He's already admitted guilty for a December robbery at Nick's Barber Shop - sentencing is now scheduled for next month. In addition, Ford is implicated in the beating and stabbing of his teenage girlfriend - the daughter of Jeffrey and Margaret Schobert - that occurred days before their deaths.
It appears that the Ohio Supreme Court has ended the chances of a Portage County woman collecting money in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Jeanette Johnson filed the suit against Dr. Randall Smith after he ruptured a bile duct during gall bladder surgery. He repaired the damage and told Johnson what happened; however, there were complications and Johnson was upset, prompting Smith to tell her that he takes full responsibility for the injury and subsequent complications.
The legal question at-hand surrounds the apology. The doctor's apologetic statement was not allowed to be admitted and he won the lawsuit. The 9th District Court of Appeals disagreed, saying that the law prohibiting apologetic statements from being entered as evidence came into effect before the lawsuit was filed, but after Smith said it.
The Ohio Supreme Court says the trial court was correct because the issue stems from when the suit was filed, not when the apology was offered.
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(Ohio Supreme Court) (Supreme Court of Ohio) The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled today that a health care provider’s sympathetic statements to a patient regarding an unanticipated outcome of medical care may not be admitted as evidence of liability in any medical malpractice lawsuit initiated after the September 13, 2004 effective date of legislation barring such evidence.
Applying that analysis to a Portage County malpractice action filed in 2007, the court held that R.C. 2317.43, Ohio’s “medical apology statute,” prevented the admission of sympathetic statements made by a doctor to a patient who had suffered complications following gall bladder surgery, despite the fact that the patient’s injury occurred and the doctor’s statements were made in 2001, three years before the apology statute became law.
The court’s 7-0 decision, authored by Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, reversed a ruling by the Eleventh District Court of Appeals.
The case involved a medical malpractice suit filed by Jeanette Johnson against Dr. Randall Smith, who surgically removed Mrs. Johnson’s gall bladder in April 2001. The surgery was scheduled to be done laparoscopically. But when Mrs. Johnson’s common bile duct was injured during the procedure (a known surgical risk), Dr. Smith converted to an “open procedure” to repair the duct. After the surgery, Dr. Smith explained to Mrs. Johnson the manner in which the injury had occurred and the manner in which he had repaired the duct.
One month later, Mrs. Johnson returned to the hospital because of complications resulting from the bile-duct injury. Her treatment required that she be transferred to another hospital. Before the transfer, she became upset and emotional. In an effort to console her, Dr. Smith took Mrs. Johnson’s hand and attempted to calm her by saying, “I take full responsibility for this. Everything will be okay.”
In August 2002, Mrs. Johnson and her husband, Harvey Johnson, filed a medical malpractice suit against Dr. Smith and the corporation through which he conducted his practice. They voluntarily dismissed that action in September 2006. In a new complaint filed July 26, 2007, the Johnsons alleged that Dr. Smith had rendered negligent medical treatment to Mrs. Johnson and that Mr. Johnson had sustained a loss of consortium.
A jury trial was scheduled for June 2010. Before trial, Dr. Smith submitted a motion to prohibit the introduction of any evidence regarding the statement of apology that he made to Mrs. Johnson before her transfer to the second hospital. Dr. Smith asserted that his statement constituted an expression of sympathy that could not be admitted into evidence under R.C. 2317.43.
The Johnsons submitted two responses to Smith’s motion. First, they argued that the statement was not an apology or expression of sympathy, but rather an admission of the doctor’s negligence. Second, they argued that R.C. 2317.43 did not apply, because it was enacted and took effect three years after the malpractice claim arose and the statement was made. The trial court ruled that any evidence regarding the doctor’s statement would be inadmissible at trial, concluding that witness testimony about Smith’s words and gestures at the time he made his statement indicated his intent to console and express sympathy for Johnson, and therefore the statement was covered by the apology statute.
The jury returned a general verdict in favor of Dr. Smith on the two claims asserted by the Johnsons following a trial at which no evidence of Smith’s statement was presented.
The Johnsons appealed, and the Eleventh District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment, holding that the trial court had erred in applying R.C. 2317.43 because the General Assembly had not expressly stated its intent that the statute should apply retroactively. The court of appeals ordered a new trial. One judge dissented, stating that the pivotal issue was the date on which the suit was initiated not the date on which a statement was made or the plaintiff’s claim arose.
Smith sought and was granted Supreme Court review of the Eleventh District’s ruling
In today’s unanimous decision, Justice Lanzinger wrote: “The General Assembly, in enacting R.C. 2317.43, prohibited the introduction of any sympathetic statements and gestures made by a healthcare provider in any civil action ‘brought’ by an alleged victim of an unanticipated outcome of medical care. The effective date of the statute was September 13, 2004.”
“The language of RC. 2317.43(A) is clear and unambiguous. By its express terms, R.C. 2317.43 applies to ‘any civil action brought’ by persons described in the statute. This means that the statute applies to a civil lawsuit filed after the effective date of the statute. The Johnsons argue that they ‘brought’ this civil action when they initially filed their original complaint against Dr. Smith in August 2002. That action, however, was voluntarily dismissed in 2006. When an action has been voluntarily dismissed, Ohio law treats the previously filed action as if it had never been commenced. ... The action filed by the Johnsons in 2002 must be treated as if it never existed. The Johnsons ‘brought’ or commenced this civil action upon the filing of their complaint on July 26, 2007. When this action was brought by the Johnsons, R.C. 2317.43 had been in effect for almost three years.”
“The Johnsons’ filing of this case on July 26, 2007, meant that the statute applied. ... Because we have determined that the statute applies, the next step is to determine whether Dr. Smith’s statement was properly excluded. ... (D)ecisions granting or denying a motion in limine are reviewed under an abuse-of-discretion standard of review. ... For an abuse of discretion to have occurred, the trial court must have taken action that is unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable.”
“In this case, the trial court heard testimony from witnesses before ruling on the motion in limine. Based upon its observation, the court concluded that ‘the statements and gestures and actions are covered under 2317.43.’ The court of appeals, in reviewing the decision, did not analyze under an abuse-of-discretion standard whether the trial court had acted unreasonably, arbitrarily, or unconscionably in reaching its conclusion. Thus, it was improper to reverse the trial court’s decision to exclude Dr. Smith’s statement. The trial court had determined that Dr. Smith was faced with a distressed patient who was upset and made a statement that was designed to comfort his patient. This is precisely the type of evidence that R.C. 2317.43 was designed to exclude as evidence of liability in a medical-malpractice case.”
“Dr. Smith’s statement was properly excluded pursuant to R.C. 2317.43. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Eleventh District Court of Appeals and remand the case to the trial court to reinstate the jury’s verdict and the trial court’s judgment.”
Justice Lanzinger’s opinion was joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French and William M. O’Neill. Justices Paul E. Pfeifer and Terrence O’Donnell concurred in judgment only.
The Green Board of Education is looking for new leadership with the resignation of Superintendent Mike Nutter.
Nutter isn't leaving Green for a lucrative offer at another district. Instead, he's leaving public education entirely.
"After more than two decades in education and more than a decade as a superintendent, I'm taking a different career path and leaving the field of education to head into the private sector," said Nutter in a statement at last night's school board meeting, available through the district's website.
Nutter says he'll concentrate on his consulting business, which was not specified, but also "looks forward to more flexibility" and the ability to spend more time with his family. It's a familiar theme, as indicated in a recent AkronNewsNow story, where Buckeye Association of School Administrators Director of Government Relations Thomas Ashe suggests that there's an interesting supply/demand dynamic in Ohio when it comes to school district superintendents. Nutter, who is very visible throughout the district, wants flexibility for the sake of his family, is not alone. Ashe told us that there are qualified people to take open superintendent positions, but don't want to be on duty 24 hours per day.
Board members thanked Nutter for his service and highlighted accomplishments that have been achieved since he was hired as superintendent in 2009. His last day on the job is July 31.
Update 10:48 A.M.: The lockdown at David Hill CLC ended at 10:23 A.M. with no problems reported.
David Hill Community Learning Center in Akron is on lockdown. There are no students in immediate danger, according to district spokesman Mark Williamson, but building administrators believe the lockdown was necessary as a precaution.
"The mother of one of the students called, expressing a concern that a family member, we think maybe the father, of one of the children at the school, may be heading in the direction of Akron," said Williamson.
There are unconfirmed reports that the man is a suspect in a criminal matter in the Cleveland area. Williamson says concern at David Hill is precautionary. The school began lockdown mode around 9:00 A.M.
"They want to make sure as a pre-preemptive measure that the school is impenetrable, just in case somebody does want to come into the school for some reason that's not healthy and not good," said Williamson.
Williamson says police are involved and the school will remain in lockdown mode until the situation is resolved.
Carol Shelly was probably not happy to lose a lawsuit against her by the government. After all, the summary judgment came with an order to pay back $520, 000 worth of taxes. Imagine what she thought when she found the judge said the fact that the defense presented no evidence was a big factor. For that, Shelly was charged $70,000 by lawyer Jeffrey Alan Carr.
Carr was suspended for six months last year, but it never kicked in since he was considered "inactive" at the time. Now the Ohio Supreme Court is agreeing with a disciplinary panel to tell Carr he can't practice law in Ohio until the high court says it's okay.
Carr was also in trouble, according to court documents, for cheating his referral service and lying to court investigators. In this case, it has added up to indefinite suspension of Carr's license to practice law - something he just obtained in 2007.
As investigators begin to sift through videos, witness statements as well as bomb fragments, an area security expert is offering some insight into the process. SACS Consulting President & CEO Tim Dimoff says that bomb reconstruction should provide some clues.
"Every bomb that's created, basically has its own signature or its own fingerprint," said Dimoff. "The makeup of the bomb, the type of chemicals used, the type of material, etc. becomes a signature for a certain group. He says video footage should help.
Dimoff also thinks more than one person was involved in the bombing, possibly linked to domestic terrorism.
There are many more questions than answers surrounding the arrest of a 14 year old Akron boy in connection with last week's double homicide in New Franklin. The first thing that has to be determined is whether or not the boy will be tried as an adult. Prosecutors have asked that the case be moved to Summit County Common Pleas Court. The determination is left to Summit County Juvenile Court Judge Linda Teodosio.
Attorney Mike Kaplan says he trusts Teodosio's abilities, but is willing to predict the outcome.
"He's going to be tried as an adult," said Kaplan.
Kaplan says Teodosio will schedule a hearing when she will hear evidence - both aggravating and mitigating circumstances - to help determine, among other things, if the child could be helped by services in the juvenile system and if the child is considered a danger to the community at-large.
The juvenile version of the justice system was designed to have educational and other opportunities available for inmates so they could be released and still become a part of "normal" society.
"That whole theory doesn't apply in adult court," said Kaplan. "Remember the key here is whether the child is amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile system. Can we help this kid?"
Kaplan says juveniles are already bumped up to adult court for certain charges if they are 16 and under.
The recent revelation that the Medina Board of Education offered Superintendent Randy Stepp a retention bonus of $83,000 caused more than raised eyebrows. It caused tempers to flare. After all, teachers have been working without a contract since last year and there is a 5.9-mill levy on the May ballot. In addition, Stepp was offered a raise that could have taken his salary to $186,000.
Stepp kept the contract, but turned down the bonus and raise after the community began to divide against him and the school board.
However, the Medina Board of Education may not be so far ahead of the curve. Buckeye Association of School Administrators Director of Government Relations Thomas Ashe says what's happening in Medina is representative of a statewide trend.
"Over the last few years, we're seeing an increased number of superintendents' contracts that have some kind of a performance bonus in them and I think it reflects a movement across the nation and in Ohio for merit pay for educators, in general," said Ashe.
According to Ashe, there are at least three important variables. First, he says the federal government has made money available that is to be used an incentive for states to develop merit-based salary schedules. Second, Ashe compares the job of a superintendent to that of a CEO at a corporation that employees several hundred people and operates on millions of dollars of revenue. Third, there is an issue of supply and demand. Ashe says there's a shortage of people who are qualified and willing to fill superintendent vacancies, including many whose credentials are coupled with second thoughts.
"They're close enough to the position to say 'I don't want 24 hour, seven day a week accountability and I don't want those kind of hours' and so they're probably not even going to apply,'" said Ashe.
Ashe says there are about nine superintendent vacancies in the greater Columbus area alone.
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