Author: Chris Tieke, Contributing Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review
The Ohio Supreme Court sets a common approach to interpreting statutorily created torts and immunities: Smith v. Landfair, Horvath v. Ish, and Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp Materials, N.A., Inc.
Today, state legislatures play an increasingly important role in creating and implementing statutes that define, and sometimes limit, tort liability. In tension with this increased activism by legislatures is the traditional role of courts in creating common law principles and traditions of recovery for tort claims. With legislatures willing to become more involved in determining when actions may give rise to civil liability, much of a court’s work has shifted to applying rules of statutory interpretation. Knowing that a court uses rules of statutory construction to interpret statutes is Law School 101. More important, however, is to understand which rules the court applies and the manner in which the court applies them to cases when a particular statute is at issue. The recent Ohio Supreme Court cases of Smith v. Landfair, Horvath v. Ish, and Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp Materials, N.A., Inc. have clarified the Court’s approach to statutory interpretation with regard to statutory torts and immunities.