Later this month, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Amanda Brandt v. Roy Pompa. Ms. Brandt, who as a child was repeatedly raped and assaulted by Pompa, bravely sued him for the lifetime of pain and struggling she suffers as a victim of trauma. During the trial, the jurors heard extensive evidence about what Ms. Brandt had gone through and how her life was forever changed by this abuse. The jury found Roy Pompa legally liable to Ms. Brandt for the extensive pain and emotional suffering he caused her.
After the trial, Pompa successfully invoked Ohio Revised Code Section 2315.18 to reduce his legal liability to Ms. Brandt. This law places an arbitrary cap on the non-economic damages that a jury may have evaluated as higher or worth more than what the cap provides. Although the creators of this law candidly admit that the law was never intended to protect rapists, there is nothing written in the law to make a distinction for courts to follow.
As a result, Amanda Brandt has appealed the Ohio Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of this Ohio law. The Supreme Court has the authority to review laws and ensure that they “bear a real and substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals, or general welfare of the public and not unreasonable or arbitrary.” As evidenced by this case, a law that allows a rapist to shield themselves from legal culpability is not in the best interest of Ohioans’ public health, safety, morals, or general welfare.
A considerable number of groups representing corporations and insurance companies, including the United States Chamber of Commerce and Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys as well as Ohio Attorney General David Yost, have also filed amicus briefs in support of Roy Pompa.
Why Would the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or Ohio Attorney General Yost File Briefs in Favor of a Rapist?
It is likely that large corporations and insurance companies want to avoid legal responsibility for claims for which they may be liable. As evidenced by higher profile cases in other states, it is not uncommon to find out that employers such as medical practices, university, schools, and religious organizations fail to act when confronted with evidence of sexual abuse. These failures lead to more abuse and more devastating consequences of their inaction. However, if this Ohio law is upheld, they can protect themselves should cases against them arise in the future.
Is Anyone Challenging This Law?
Adding additional interest to this case is the fact that four of the justices that will be deciding this case will also be on the ballot this November in Ohio. Justice Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, is running to become Ohio’s next Chief Justice, replacing Republican Maureen O’Connor, who is ineligible to run for re-election. In a bipartisan approach, both Justice Brunner and Chief Justice O’Connor voted to re-examine the constitutionality of this law. Republican Justices Sharon Kennedy, Patrick Fischer, and Patrick DeWine voted against reviewing the statute, thus upholding the decision of the lower court to allow Roy Pompa to avoid the verdict rendered against him.
Judge Marilyn Zayas, a Democrat from the First District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, is challenging Republican incumbent Justice Pat DeWine, who is also the son of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. Judge Terri Jamison, a Democrat from the Tenth District Court of Appeals in Columbus, is challenging Republican Pat Fischer. It is likely that the Ohio Supreme Court will issue a ruling in Amanda Brandt’s case before the November election.