The Ohio Supreme Court decision of Gliozzo v. University Urologists of Cleveland (2007), 114 Ohio St. 3d 141 has put a treacherous spin on the always-tricky matter of perfecting service. Astute lawyers always approach service of process with contemplation of the details that can cause an action to fail before it starts. The Gliozzo decision has just made causes of action anything but routine.
The Ohio Court dismissed a medical malpractice suit, stating that the service was never perfected on the defendant hospital. The plaintiff filed suit in a way that seems beyond dispute. However the defendant attacked on grounds of sufficiency of process. The case was conducted with the usual discovery in excess of one year. The case even advanced through many depositions, reports and pretrial practice. Yet 17 months subsequent to the answer being filed, the defendant then moved to dismiss on the basis of process insufficiency. Justice Lanzinger wrote the majority opinion, upholding the trial court’s granting of the motion. This hyper-technical finding is adverse to a reasonable administration of justice. But that’s the law we are obliged to follow, or risk termination of all claims even long after the defendant insurance company has been aware of all allegations.
It would be wise to diary to re-check after the answer is filed, as to whether there has been proper Ohio service of process, irrespective of what the defendant is claiming at that time. If there is any question about this, make a personal appeal as to what the Cincinnati-based defense counsel is stating, depending upon your relationship with them in the Cincinnati bar. Otherwise, consider clearing this up through admissions or even stipulations.