Case: Plush v. Cincinnati

19-03752 | Ohio state trial court

Filed Date: Aug. 12, 2019

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 10, 2018, a sixteen-year-old boy was trapped in his minivan after the backseat unexpectedly folded and pinned him against the back door. He managed to place two 911 calls, during which he told the operator he was "stuck in a van" and "going to die soon," and he described the van and its location. No help arrived, and the boy died.The boy's parents, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, filed a complaint on August 12, 2019, in the Ohio Court of Common Pleas for Hamilton County. Represented by…

On April 10, 2018, a sixteen-year-old boy was trapped in his minivan after the backseat unexpectedly folded and pinned him against the back door. He managed to place two 911 calls, during which he told the operator he was "stuck in a van" and "going to die soon," and he described the van and its location. No help arrived, and the boy died.

The boy's parents, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, filed a complaint on August 12, 2019, in the Ohio Court of Common Pleas for Hamilton County. Represented by Al Gerhardstein, they sued the city of Cincinnati, the city manager, the employees who took the 911 calls, and the police officers who responded to the 911 calls. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants had violated state law in recklessly and negligently causing the wrongful death of their son. They called attention to individual actions from the call takers and police officers as well as the city's Emergency Call Center, which had both personnel and technology issues in recent years. The plaintiffs requested compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and injunctive relief for the city to reform its emergency call system.

On the same day as the complaint, the plaintiffs also moved for a temporary restraining order. The case was assigned to Judge Robert P. Ruehlman.

Seeking both political subdivision and individual immunity, the defendants moved to dismiss the case on October 8, 2019. On January 22, 2020, the trial court denied the motion. Regarding political subdivision immunity, it held that the defendants had not conclusively shown that the immunity was apparent on the face of the complaint. For individual immunity, the court held that city employees acting outside the scope of official responsibilities was an exception to immunity, and that the complaint alleged facts to show that it was possible the city employees had done so. 2020 WL 9439519.

The next day, the defendants appealed to the Ohio First District Court of Appeals. On December 16, 2020, the appeals court remanded the case, affirming in part and denying in part the trial court's decision. The appeals court held that political subdivision immunity did apply, and that an exception would have been appropriate for the creation of a 911 system but not for improvements to the system. It also held that the city employees were immune in their official capacities because the plaintiffs' son died on private property, in the parking lot of his private school. The appeals court affirmed the trial court's decision that the city employees were not immune in their individual capacities because the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged at least recklessness. 164 N.E.3d 1056.

On April 9, 2021, the parties agreed on a settlement. The defendants were to pay $6 million in damages and attorneys' fees to the plaintiffs. In addition, the defendants agreed to spend $250,000 to hire outside experts to review the city's operations for handling 911 calls. These experts would identify areas for improvement and help set goals for the city. The parties agreed that these goals should center around implementing industry best practices and standards, quality assurance for calls and dispatching, steps to achieve accreditation, staff training and retention, and improving responses to calls that are labeled as "unknown trouble." The goals would be set within thirty days of the agreement, and the team of experts would issue a public report after six months. The city agreed to implement the recommendations from the team of experts and publish progress reports every six months. The settlement agreement would last five years.

With the settlement agreement in place, the court dismissed the case with prejudice on June 22, 2021. The terms of the settlement agreement are set to expire in 2026.

Summary Authors

Lauren Yu (7/20/2021)

People


Judge(s)

Bergeron, Pierre H. (Ohio)

Crouse, Candace C. (Ohio)

Mock, Russell (Ohio)

Ruehlman, Robert P (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Branch, Jennifer L. (Ohio)

Gerhardstein, Alphonse A. (Ohio)

Hyatt, Mary Caroline (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Manning, Mark R (Ohio)

Rutowski, Kimberly (Ohio)

Tallent, Virginia (Ohio)

Judge(s)

Bergeron, Pierre H. (Ohio)

Crouse, Candace C. (Ohio)

Mock, Russell (Ohio)

Ruehlman, Robert P (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Branch, Jennifer L. (Ohio)

Gerhardstein, Alphonse A. (Ohio)

Hyatt, Mary Caroline (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Manning, Mark R (Ohio)

Rutowski, Kimberly (Ohio)

Tallent, Virginia (Ohio)

Woerner, Emily (Ohio)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

June 25, 2021 Docket

Complaint and Jury Demand

Aug. 12, 2019 Complaint

Entry Overruling Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss

2020 WL 9439519

Jan. 22, 2020 Order/Opinion

Opinion

Ohio state supreme court

164 N.E.3d 1056

Dec. 16, 2020 Order/Opinion

Plush Family and Cincinnati Agree to 911 Improvements and Financial Settlement

Plush v. City of Cincinnati

No Court

April 9, 2021 Press Release

Settlement Agreement and Release

Plush v. City of Cincinnati

None Settlement Agreement

Settlement Agreement and Release

Plush v. City of Cincinnati

None Settlement Agreement

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link

SUITE 3400 441

P 1 GERHARDSTEIN/ALPHONSE/ADAM VINE STREET 32053

CINCINNATI OH 45202 41 VINE

STREET SUITE

P 1 BRANCH/JENNIFER/L 38893

3400CINCINNATI OH 45202 441 VINE

STREET SUITE

P 1 HYATT/CAROLINE 93323

3400CINCINNATI OH 45202

nan

nan

P 2

nan

nan

P 3

nan

D 1 WOERNER/EMILY SUITE 214 801 89349

CINCINNATI OH 45202 801 PLUM

STREET ROOM

D 1 TALLENT/VIRGINIA 214CINCINNATI OH 45202 84946 801 PLUM

ST CITY HALL

D 1 MANNING/MARK/R ROOM 214 CINCINNATI OH 45202 88331 SUITE 214 801

D 2 WOERNER/EMILY PLUM STREET CINCINNATI OH 45202 89349 801 PLUM STREET ROOM

D 2 TALLENT/VIRGINIA 214CINCINNATI OH 45202 84946 801 PLUM ST CITY HALL

D 2 MANNING/MARK/R ROOM 214 CINCINNATI OH 45202 88331 801 PLUM ST CITY HALL

D 3 MANNING/MARK/R ROOM 214 CINCINNATI OH 45202 88331 SUITE 214 801

D 3 WOERNER/EMILY PLUM STREET CINCINNATI OH 45202 89349 801 PLUM STREET ROOM

D 3 TALLENT/VIRGINIA 214CINCINNATI OH 45202 84946

801 PLUM

D 4 MANNING/MARK/R ST CITY HALL 88331

STREET ROOM

D 4 TALLENT/VIRGINIA 214CINCINNATI OH 45202 84946 SUITE 214 801

PLUM STREET

D 4 WOERNER/EMILY CINCINNATI OH 45202 89349 SUITE 214 801

PLUM STREET

D 5 WOERNER/EMILY CINCINNATI OH 45202 89349 801 PLUM

STREET ROOM

D 5 TALLENT/VIRGINIA 214CINCINNATI OH 45202 84946 30 GARFIELD

PLACE SUITE

D 5 RUTOWSKI/KIMBERLY/A 915CINCINNATI OH 452024322 76653 801 PLUM

STREET ROOM

D 6 TALLENT/VIRGINIA 214CINCINNATI OH 45202 84946 30 GARFIELD

PLACE SUITE

D 6 RUTOWSKI/KIMBERLY/A 915CINCINNATI OH 452024322 76653 801 PLUM

ST CITY HALL

D 6 MANNING/MARK/R ROOM 214 CINCINNATI OH 45202 88331

SUITE 214 801

D 6 WOERNER/EMILY PLUM STREET 89349

270.00

June 25, 2021

nan

June 24, 2021

nan

June 22, 2021

115.00-

June 17, 2021

nan

March 15, 2021

nan

March 5, 2021

270.00-

Feb. 26, 2021

nan

Feb. 25, 2021

nan

Feb. 22, 2021

nan

Feb. 18, 2021

nan

Feb. 4, 2021

nan

Feb. 1, 2021

nan

Jan. 25, 2021

nan

Jan. 24, 2021

nan

Dec. 16, 2020

nan

July 20, 2020

nan

Feb. 6, 2020

nan

Jan. 23, 2020

nan

Jan. 22, 2020

nan

Dec. 30, 2019

nan

Dec. 13, 2019

nan

Dec. 13, 2019

nan

Dec. 13, 2019

nan

Dec. 13, 2019

nan

Dec. 13, 2019

nan

Dec. 13, 2019

nan

Nov. 20, 2019

nan

Nov. 18, 2019

nan

Nov. 15, 2019

nan

Nov. 8, 2019

nan

Nov. 1, 2019

nan

Oct. 31, 2019

nan

Oct. 28, 2019

nan

Oct. 24, 2019

nan

Oct. 18, 2019

nan

Oct. 18, 2019

nan

Oct. 9, 2019

nan

Oct. 8, 2019

nan

Sept. 23, 2019

nan

Aug. 29, 2019

nan

Aug. 27, 2019

nan

Aug. 27, 2019

nan

Aug. 27, 2019

nan

Aug. 27, 2019

nan

Aug. 27, 2019

nan

Aug. 26, 2019

nan

Aug. 21, 2019

nan

Aug. 21, 2019

nan

Aug. 19, 2019

nan

Aug. 15, 2019

nan

Aug. 15, 2019

nan

Aug. 14, 2019

State / Territory: Ohio

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 12, 2019

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The parents of a sixteen-year-old boy who died from being pinned by the backseat of his minivan after calling 911 to no avail.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

City of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Hamilton), City

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Amount Defendant Pays: 6,000,000

Order Duration: 2021 - 2026

Content of Injunction:

Hire

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Reporting

Auditing

Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Training

Issues

General:

Government Services

Incident/accident reporting & investigations

Personal injury

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)