In an opinion released today, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld its prior interpretation of Ohio Revised Code §2745.01(A), the employer intentional tort statute. Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp Materials N.A., Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-5685 [pdf]. The statute currently requires that an employee must show that the employer committed a tortious act with intent to injure or with substantial certainty that an injury would occur. The statute further defines the term substantial certainty to mean “acting with deliberate intent to cause an employee to suffer an injury, a disease, a condition or death.”
Ohio courts interpreted the current version of the statute to require evidence of intent to injure on the part of an employer. That interpretation was challenged by the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp Materials N.A., Inc., where the Court of Appeals held that the statute’s definition of substantial certainty constituted scrivener’s error and that the employer could be held liable for an intentional tort if it “objectively believed the injury to [the employee] was substantially certain to occur.”
The Supreme Court rejected this interpretation holding that O.R.C. § 2745.01 requires a showing of deliberate intent to cause injury. The Supreme Court’s holding maintains the stricter standard for employees attempting to pursue employer intentional tort claims. Employers must still be cognizant of further challenges to the statute’s current construction, but this is a significant result for Ohio employers.