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A bar/restaurant was established as an LLC with John Doe as its CEO. John Doe was also the CEO of another LLC that owned the land and was landlord to the bar/restaurant. The property on which the bar sat was at the corner of two state routes. The ODOT right-of-way extended beyond the paved portion of one of the state routes up to the edge of the building of the bar. ODOT was concerned about encroachments into its right-of-way by the bar’s employees, delivery men, and customers. The right-of-way needed to be clear of encroachments in case errant vehicles needed to use a clear space in which to recover. To that end, ODOT required the bar to post “no parking signs” in the right-of-way. The bar’s manager was also designated by John Doe to act as agent for the landlord in all matters of compliance with ODOT’s rules and regulations.
On July 22, our 21-year-old client was employed by the bar/restaurant as a server. The night before, the bar debuted its food truck, located behind the bar in its picnic area. The truck overheated and the fire suppression system activated, requiring the interior to be thoroughly cleaned. The bar’s manager and the chef decided that the truck would be moved the following morning into the ODOT right-of-way area to be cleaned using the water spigot and hose attached to the bar. Our client was instructed to participate in the cleaning of the truck. The next morning, our client was standing at the rear of the food truck when a pickup truck failed to see stopped traffic ahead and veered into the ODOT right-of-way. The plaintiff was pinned between both bumpers, severing his right leg and fracturing his left lower leg and right humerus. A second vehicle also swerved off the road into the rear of the pickup causing a second collision.
Plaintiff received workers’ compensation benefits. He was unable to successfully pursue an employer intentional tort action since the conduct of the employer did not violate the criteria set forth in ORC 2745.01. The insurers for the two errant vehicles tendered their policy limits. The remaining dispute involved whether the landlord had exercised sufficient control over the premises and activity which led to plaintiff’s injury to be liable, or whether it was truly a landlord out of possession who had signed an arms’ length “net-net lease. The court overruled the landlord’s motion for summary judgment holding that it was a question of fact for the jury. The parties were able to settle the matter with the court’s assistance after an unsuccessful mediation.