A civil lawsuit filed against Owens Community College by former nursing students is one step closer to trial.
There are at least two other suits pending with regard to the college's nursing program losing its accreditation in 2009.
A settlement pre-trial hearing Tuesday morning by the attorneys did not produce an agreement. Thus, the jury trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 8 before Judge Reeve Kelsey.
The case being discussed Tuesday was filed April 11, 2011, and seeks "in excess of $25,000 in damages, interest, costs and reasonable attorney fees."
On Nov. 29, the judge issued two orders in the case.
The one order involved the college and college officials at the time, Cynthia Hall, Paul Unger and Christa Adams, who were all seeking summary judgment to dismiss the suit.
In a 25-page ruling, Kelsey granted the motions in part and denied in part.
In short, he ruled that the college and the defendants were not negligent or deficient in their actions of notifying students regarding the possible loss of accreditation prior to July 2009. But Kelsey ruled the allegations regarding lack of information after that date could move forward in the case.
In his second ruling, the judge denied the motions for summary judgment by Hall, Unger and Adams. Their motion suggested that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear claims against them individually as state employees are "immune from liability for actions taken in the performance" of their duties. The exception is if they are done outside the score of employment or done with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner.
As there is another case filed with the Court of Claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction to hear any claims regarding such issues, the judge noted, "Filing such a claim in the Court of Claims waives any other cause of action based on the same facts."
The judge ruled the plaintiffs thus "waived any claims they might have against the individual defendants unless and until the Court of Claims determines that they are not immune from liability."
Kelsey ruled Hall, Unger and Adams are dismissed from this action "without prejudice."
Attorneys for both the plaintiffs and defendants would not speak about the pending case.
However, Amy Golian, representing Owens from the Ohio Attorney General's office, said the judges' recent orders "narrowed the scope" of the case.
Michael Bruno, one of the attorneys who represents the former students, said they confirmed the trial Jan. 8 date.
A 2009 case, which was put on a "stay" for more than a year due to an appeals court determination regarding procedural matters, was recently returned to Kelsey's docket in August and is once again beginning to move forward.
Judge Reeve Kelsey’s office on Wednesday received a notice of the dismissal of a civil lawsuit against Owens.
Attorneys for both sides met privately on Tuesday with the attorneys for the plaintiffs then meeting with five former nursing students who had filed the claim regarding the loss of accreditation of the nursing program at the Wood County campus.
That afternoon the attorney’s office for the students filed a notice with the Clerk of Courts, which reads, “Now come the Plaintiffs Carlianne Baird, Christy Saar, Michelle Huffman, Lori Sattler and Kelsey Darbyshire by and through counsel and herby dismiss their complaint against the Defendants without prejudice pursuant to Ohio Civil Rule 41 (A).”
No other information was provided. A call to the law office found the attorneys involved were not available and no return call has been made as of press time.
Civil Rule 41 details procedures about dismissals. The term “without prejudice” allows the claims to be revised and refilled if so desired.
A separate suit filed in January 2011 was dismissed voluntarily by the plaintiffs last December.