On Friday, March 27, 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court issued an order “tolling” time requirements imposed by the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court (including the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure). This same day, Governor DeWine signed into law HB 197, which “tolled” time requirements established by statute (i.e. statutes of limitations). These two measures are designed to work in tandem to address the impact of coronavirus on the Ohio judicial system.
Here are answers to commonly-asked questions:
- What does “tolling” or “tolled” mean?
Tolled essentially means frozen or stopped. Tolling effectively freezes time from the date the tolling begins (March 9, 2020), until the expiration of the order. Thus, if a deadline is currently March 19 (ten days after the March 9 tolling date), the new deadline would be 10 days after the emergency ends or July 30, 2020, whichever is sooner.
- How do these developments affect my case?
If you are a party to a pending case, be prepared to be flexible. According to a FAQ issued by the Supreme Court, case scheduling orders issued on or after March 9, 2020, shall remain in effect, while scheduling orders issued before March 9, 2020 should be reconsidered by the local court.
Additionally, though courts aren’t closing, they are limiting access to promote social distancing. Unless your case deals with a time-sensitive issue (like domestic violence or child welfare issues), you should expect delays in terms of in-person access to courts.
- What is a “statute of limitations”?
A “statute of limitations” is the time within which a person has to file or otherwise settle a legal cause of action. If you don’t file or settle your claim within this time, you may be forever barred from pursuing it.
- How do these developments affect me if I think I have a case?
HB 197 specifically tolls statutorily-established timeframes. This includes, for example, statutes of limitations. Therefore, if you believe you have a claim against a medical provider, and the deadline to file your claim under normal circumstances would have expired on March 15, you now have until six days after the emergency ends to file your claim. On the other hand, there is nothing precluding you from filing a claim now. We always recommend erring on the side of caution.
We at Beausay & Nichols Law Firm continue to offer free telephone consultations, and we are hard at work during this difficult time. If we think you have a case, we’ll gather everything to make certain it’s filed in a timely manner. Call us at 614-529-3476.