News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Don Drumm Studios

Hennes Paynter Communications

Knight Foundation


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Courts and Crime


An Ohio Supreme Court case rests on the meaning of two words
An insurance company says intent and humiliation are key
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Ohio Supreme Court tries to sort out the language in a discriminatoin case.
Courtesy of File photo
Download (WKSU Only)

Ohio Supreme Court justices sometimes need to dwell on the meaning of a single word or two.  And the justices recently heard one case that falls into that category. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports on a case that requires more than a dictionary.

LISTEN: Ohio Supreme Court considers intent and humiliation

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:16)


The first important word in this case is “intent.”

The case started in 2010, when Steve Granger and Paul Steigerwald of Akron told Valerie Kozera they would not rent their property to her because she had a child. The woman called fair housing investigators, and the men were sued in federal court. The men said they didn’t know they were breaking a law, and turned for help to Auto-Owners Insurance, from which they’d bought an umbrella insurance policy. Auto-Owners declined to defend them, saying the umbrella policy doesn’t cover clients who break laws – whether intentional or not.

Was it intentional?
The men sued the insurance company for breach of contract. Brian Winchester argued for the insurance company. 

“The level of intent – ignorance of the law is no defense, as we know. And his mere statement and his intent to preclude Ms. Kozera from living or renting that property was the intentional act. The harm automatically occurs based on the violation of the Fair Housing Act.”

Thomas Loepp is the attorney for Granger and Steigerwald, the landlords. 

"I understand ignorance is not a defense in the law, blah blah blah. And it was not a defense to Ms. Kozera’s claims. He thought, ‘Since I don’t have a certain number of units, I don’t have to do, I don’t have to follow all of the law’s such and such.” He thought he did not have to rent to people with children.”

Was it humiliation?
And then there’s the second word – “humiliation.” In her suit, Kozera claimed she suffered emotional distress because of the humiliation of being discriminated against, and the landlords say their umbrella policy allows for humiliation in its coverage of personal injury claims.  Winchester, arguing for the insurance company, told the justices that’s not correct. 

“The umbrella policy provides coverage for personal injury – however, in limited circumstances. The Court of Appeals found that emotional distress equals humiliation -- humiliation being a covered personal injury under the umbrella policy. These are separate and distinct items.”

But Loepp said unless a policy defines humiliation as something that wouldn’t be covered, it should be, because precedent supports siding with the insured in cases like this.

Insurance company got paid
“So it’s either that they took money from my clients for something – humiliation coverage, humiliation duty of defense – or they took money from him without providing him something. The law is that if they took his money, if they sold him insurance, if they provided it to him and they defined it, I’m sorry, they gave them something, he bought something. He bought humiliation coverage.”

And the discussion over how important the definitions of these words are included a lighter moment – this exchange between Justice Terrance O’Donnell and Winchester.

 
O’Donnell: “What is humiliation, in your view?” 
Winchester: “Well, being asked a question by a Justice of the Supreme Court and not knowing the answer.”

The landlords settled the suit with Kozera and fair housing advocates after the insurance company refused to defend them, and before filing suit against the insurer. A decision from the Ohio Supreme Court is expected in the next few months.

 

Listener Comments:

Good answer!


Posted by: Tom Murphy (Boston) on July 20, 2014 5:07AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Cleveland RTA is moving Public Square bus stops beginning this week
I am very confused. Why are you taking one or more of the park and ride 246 out of service in the morning. I looking over the new schedule I see that there ar...

Canton school board will vote Wednesday on its high school merger
Great to see that THE REPOSITORY is advising a 'no' vote for now! Another point, besides all the Very accurate points already made against this move is the fac...

Some parents opting their students out of Common Core test
I am an 8th grader at a school in Allen County. I have just recently taken the ELA performance based assessment and found it extremely difficult. It asked me a ...

Fallout from the Ohio Supreme Court Munroe Falls ruling
The comment by Nathan Johnson from OEC is confusing. Instead of cities being 'emboldened' to craft zoning laws that were just stricken down by this ruling, comm...

Stopping sediment dumping in Lake Erie
Ah, yes, the Army Coro of Engineers, the geniuses that designed the levee system in New Orleans that has made the flooding worse due to no sediment reaching the...

Ohio charter school critic says reform bills are a good step
The cold truth is that these charter schools are offering services beyond the what the state tests can guage. Parents and students have a choice and they are ch...

State law trumps restrictions on oil and gas drilling in Munroe Falls
Justice O'Neill's quote brings up a point I wish WKSU would address: since, unlike for Federal judges, our judges here in Ohio are elected, and therefore respo...

Ohio Supreme Court invalidates local fracking bans
If Ohio has their way, Fracking Wells will be planted in the courtyard of every town. That is if the State of Ohio can profit by it...for more on how the court ...

Exploradio: The Mayan queen
Very interesting!

Ohio Department of Education recommends cutting back on time spent testing
Less administration more education. Manipulation of this tax payer has caused her to consider relocation and home schooling due to rthe facts of teachers who wa...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University