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History of the Court

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Sovereign Immunity

Sovereign immunity is the legal principle that government is immune from lawsuits or other legal actions except where the government consents to them. Prior to 1912, the state of Ohio and its employees were protected by sovereign immunity and could not be held liable for negligent acts nor be sued for money damages.

Ohio Constitution

In 1912, by approval of the Ohio voters, an amendment was added to the Ohio Constitution that “Suits may be brought against the state, in such courts and in such manner as may be provided by law.” (Article I, § 16 of the Ohio Constitution)

With the new amendment, a person who claimed to have been damaged by the state of Ohio could seek money but was required to do so from the legislative branch in the form of a special bill. These bills – like all other bills – were contingent upon legislative and executive approval or disapproval. In other words, claims against the state were not immune from the political process.

These special bills were rare, and it was even rarer that they passed. If it did pass, the bill would typically do one of the following:

  • Order the state treasurer to pay the claimed amount;
  • Empower an agency or agencies with special funds to investigate the claim and pay any amount found due; or
  • Allow the wronged person to sue the state in a court of law.

However, in 1917 the Ohio Supreme Court determined in Raudabaugh v. State that the constitutional amendment was not self-executing – meaning that legislation or law was required. Thus, the state was still protected by sovereign immunity until such time as the legislature enacted a statute expressly granting consent to sue.

That same year the General Assembly responded to Raudabaugh by creating the Sundry Claims Board and empowering it to hear and approve claims against the state.

The Sundry Claims Board

The Sundry Claims Board consisted of five members:

  • the state auditor
  • the attorney general
  • the chairman of the House finance committee
  • the chairman of the Senate finance committee, and
  • the director of the state office of budget and management.

The only requirements for submitting a claim to the Board were that the claim be submitted on the designated form and that the claim be specific enough for the Board to determine what the alleged wrong was and which state agency or agencies were implicated. The Board held hearings, and each party was given the opportunity to argue their case, call witnesses and cross-examine the opposing party’s witnesses. Claimants were not required to, and most often did not have, an attorney; but the state was always represented by the Attorney General.

The Board had the authority to approve or disapprove the payment of claims. Claims for $1,000 or less would be paid by the auditor of state. Claims in excess of $1,000 became part of the annual Sundry Claims appropriation bill. The bill included a brief summary of each claim and was presented to the legislature for approval. Hearings would then be held in both houses and claimants often had to testify in support of their claim. The legislative committees had the power to make changes in the amount of the awards, increasing some, decreasing or totally eliminating others.

There were inherent conflicts of interest and limitations with the Sundry Claims Board system. All of the Board members were in some respect political: They were elected officials. Four of the five members were charged with protecting the state treasury. And the Attorney General, whose office represented the state’s interest before the Sundry Claims Board, simultaneously served on the Sundry Claims Board. Being an administrative body, the state lacked equal protection before the Board in the sense that it could not make counter-claims or cross-claims against claimants and third parties who might otherwise be liable.

Realizing these and other defects in the Sundry Claims process, the legislature put forth the Court of Claims Act.

The Court of Claims Act

In 1975 with the passage of the Court of Claims Act by the General Assembly, Ohio consented to be sued and have its liability determined in the newly established Court of Claims. Under the Act and with a few exceptions, the same rules of law apply in suits against the state as in suits between private parties.

In 1976, the General Assembly enacted the Crime Victims Compensation Act and its administration was assigned to the Court of Claims. Through the Crime Victims Compensation Program, individuals suffering personal injury as the result of criminal conduct were eligible to apply for compensation from the state.

From 1976 until July 1, 2000, the Court of Claims handled all claims for compensation for the Victims of Crime Compensation Program. The Ohio Attorney General would investigate the claim and file a finding of fact and recommendation to the Court. The Court would then render a decision. If a claimant disagreed with that initial decision, the claimant could appeal first to a panel of commissioners and, finally, to a judge of the Court of Claims.

After July 1, 2000, the Victims of Crime Compensation Program underwent a transformation with the passage of Am. Sub. S.B. 153 of the 123rd General Assembly. Pursuant to that legislation, the responsibility for administering the Victims of Crime Compensation Program was transferred from the Court of Claims to the Ohio Attorney General. The transfer significantly changed the role that the Court plays in these cases. Whereas before, the Court rendered the initial decisions on compensation cases and was responsible for disbursing reparation awards, these responsibilities were transferred to the Ohio Attorney General. The Court, however, still maintains jurisdiction over the appellate process.

Beginning in 2016, the Court of Claims serves as an alternative forum for the resolution of disputes regarding access to public records.

Additional Information

Who can be sued in the Ohio Court of Claims?
The state of Ohio is the only defendant in the Court of Claims. The state includes the General Assembly, Supreme Court, offices of all elected state officers (governor, attorney general, auditor of state, secretary of state, and the treasurer of state), all state departments, boards, offices, commissions, agencies, institutions, and state colleges and universities. (Click here for a list of state agencies or click here for a list of colleges & universities.) Claims can also be filed in this Court against individual state employees for their wrongful conduct.
Who cannot be sued in the Ohio Court of Claims?
The Ohio Court of Claims has no jurisdiction over lawsuits involving private parties or businesses, or lawsuits involving federal, county, city, township or village governments, agencies or employees.
What is state employee immunity?
Immunity refers to a protection from personal liability that may be provided to a state employee who is sued in his or her individual capacity. Immunity may be provided so long as the actions of the employee giving rise to the lawsuit were within the course and scope of the employee’s duties and the employee did not act with malice, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner. If these conditions are met and the employee is named as a defendant in a lawsuit, the state will provide legal representation and take financial responsibility for the conduct of the employee.
What is the difference between an administrative determination claim and a judicial claim?
If the amount of money you are seeking is $10,000 or less, your case will be assigned to the small claims category of cases known as administrative determinations. This category was created to provide a quick, informal and inexpensive way of determining your claim, so that the average person can file a claim without the assistance of an attorney. Administrative determination claims are decided by the Clerk of the Court and based on the documents, photos, affidavits, etc. that you submit. There is no trial or hearing. If the amount of money you are seeking is in excess of $10,000, your claim will be assigned to the judicial case category. Judicial cases are heard and decided by a judge or magistrate. There are no jury trials in the Court of Claims.
How do I file a claim in the Court of Claims?
Odyssey eFileOH™ is now available in the Ohio Court of Claims. Claims for $10,000 or less: It’s okay to represent yourself, but you must complete the Claim Form and submit the $25 filing fee before the Court will begin to process your claim. Click here for detailed completion instructions. Claims greater than $10,000: Although you may still use the claim form in this case, we suggest hiring an attorney to represent you throughout the judicial process. Various bar associations and legal clinics throughout the state can provide the names of attorneys, including some who will accept pro bono clients.
How do I fill out the claim form?
At a minimum, you will need to tell us when and where the claim occurred, the amount of the claim and why you think the state of Ohio is responsible for your losses. Click here for detailed instructions. You may file in person, electronically by eFile, or mail your claim and accompanying documents to:
Ohio Court of Claims The Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center 65 South Front Street, Third Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215
Does it cost money to file a claim?
Yes, the filing fee is $25 in cash or by check or money order payable to the Ohio Court of Claims. Please do not mail cash. You may pay by credit card if you eFile. If you can’t afford the filing fee, you must provide written proof that you cannot reasonably afford it and complete and mail an Application to Waive Filing Fee. Even if the Court grants your request, you may still be responsible for court costs associated with your case.
What do I need to know about filing my claim?
Odyssey eFileOH™ is now available in the Ohio Court of Claims. Claims for $10,000 or less: Attach two copies of all supporting documents, which could include certificates of title for vehicles; cost estimates for property repair and/or replacement; medical reports; paid or unpaid bills; accident or police reports; and photos, maps or drawings. If possible, obtain signed and notarized witness statements for the Court’s consideration and include two copies of each one with your claim. Claims greater than $10,000: Provide one copy of your claim for each named defendant (the organization being sued) and one copy for the Ohio Attorney General.
What happens after my claim is filed?
Claims for $10,000 or less: We will send a copy of your claim and any supporting documents to the state agency that, according to you, caused your losses. That state agency will conduct an investigation and file a written report with the Court within 60 days. You will receive a copy of the investigation report, which you may respond to in writing by completing the Response to Investigation Report . For detailed completion instructions, click here . Claims greater than $10,000: The Court will send a written document (summons) and a copy of your claim to officially notify the state organization that a lawsuit has been filed. Additional copies will be sent to the Ohio Attorney General. The state then has 28 days to provide a written response.
Will I need to travel to Columbus for a trial?
If your claim is for more than $10,000, the trial will take place in one of our three Columbus courtrooms. The Court will send you written notice of your assigned trial dates about 30 days after receiving your claim form. If your claim is for $10,000 or less, it will be determined administratively and there is no trial. In accordance with the COVID-19 Protocol established by the Supreme Court of Ohio, most trials are being held virtually until further notice.
What do I need to know before coming to court?
Proper attire is expected at all court proceedings. Cell phones and pagers are allowed in court, but they must be turned off prior to entering the courtroom. Courtroom procedures are open to the public. However, certain subject matters may be inappropriate for small children and younger adults. For information about directions and parking, click here.
How long will it take to decide my claim?
Claims for $10,000 or less:
  • The state agency has 60 days after you file a claim to file its written investigation report.
  • You then have 21 days to file a written response.
  • The Clerk will make a decision after that.
Claims greater than $10,000:
  • It’s possible that your claim will take 12 to 24 months to decide, depending on the circumstances.
  • Click here for a detailed explanation of our Court’s differentiated case management system.
When can I expect payment if I win?
If you win, the Court will order the state to pay you for reasonable losses and to reimburse your filing fee. Payment is made within 60 days of the date of the Court’s judgment, barring any appeals.
If my claim is dismissed or turned down, does it cost anything?
Yes, the $25 filing fee is non-refundable. You may also be billed for court costs not covered by the filing fee.
What if I don’t agree with the decision about my claim?
For claims of $10,000 or less: The losing party may file a Motion for Court Review of the Clerk’s decision within 30 days of the date of that decision. A judge of the Court will review the Clerk’s decision. This will also be done on the basis of the written record and without a hearing. There is no further appeal of the judge’s decision to this or any other court. For claims greater than $10,000: You have the right to appeal the judge’s decision. Appeals of the Court of Claims are heard by the Tenth District Court of Appeals. Please refer to the Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure and the Local Rules of the Tenth District Court of Appeals for further explanation.
How do I find more details about court rules and state laws?
Please understand that the Court is obligated to follow certain rules and statutes. Failure to comply with these regulations could impact the outcome of your case. For more information, go to our Rules & Statutes webpage.

Fees & Costs

The law requires that you pay a $25 filing fee when filing a complaint. You can pay by credit card if filing online. You must enclose a check or money order if filing by mail, or you may pay cash if filing in person.

Please refer to the following fee schedule for more information:

Claims vs the State

Civil complaint filing fee
$25.00
Counter-claim, cross-claim, third-party complaint & intervening complaint filing fee
$25.00
Issuing each writ, order or notice (except subpoena)
$2.00
Issuing subpoena, swearing witness, entering attendance & certifying fees (each name)
$2.00
Calling a jury (cases that have been removed from common pleas court)
$25.00
Entering on journal, indexing & posting on any docket (each page)
$2.00
Acknowledging all instruments in writing
$2.00
Notice of appeal, including the filing & noting of all necessary documents
$25.00
Each electronic transmission of a document, plus $1.00 for each page of that document (to be paid by the party requesting the electronic transmission)
$2.00
Certified copy of document (per page)
$1.00
Uncertified copy of a document (per page)
$0.10

Crime Victims Compensation Appeals

Filing Fee to Appeal Attorney General’s Decision
No charge
Certified copy of document (per page)
$1.00
Uncertified copy of a document (per page)
$0.10

Glossary of Terms

Reading about legal matters and Court processes can mean coming across unfamiliar words and abbreviations. The glossary below can help you look up and hopefully understand some of the terminology used in the Court of Claims.

In addition, Court News Ohio provides an interactive online glossary to help the public understand the legal terms that Ohio courts and lawyers frequently use.

Administrative Determinations
Small claims (for $10,000 or less) that are decided by the Clerk of the Court and based on the documents, photos, affidavits, etc. that have been submitted for review.
Affidavit
A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Settling a dispute without a full, formal trial. Methods include mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and settlement, among others.
Answer
The defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s allegations as stated in a complaint. An item-by-item, paragraph-by-paragraph response to points made in a complaint; part of the pleadings.
Appeal
A higher court’s review of a lower court or administrative agency decision (for example, the Attorney General).
Attorney of Record
The principal attorney in a lawsuit, who signs all formal documents relating to the suit.
Bench Trial
Trial without a jury in which a judge decides the facts.
Case Number
A unique number assigned to a case by each court. In the Court of Claims, the case number is a nine digit number that begins with the year the case is filed. For example, 2014-00229.
Certificate of Service
A signed statement that indicates an exact copy of a document filed with the Court of Claims was provided to every other party in the case. The statement must indicate the names and addresses of everyone who receives a copy, when they were given a copy and how the copy was given or sent to them (for example, by hand delivery or by first-class mail.) All documents offered for filing in the Court of Claims must contain a certificate of service.
Civil Case
A non-criminal case that seeks a particular legal remedy. A civil case usually involves money damages.
Complaint
The legal document that usually begins a civil lawsuit. It states the facts and identifies the action the court is asked to take.
Court Costs
The expenses of prosecuting or defending a lawsuit, other than the attorneys’ fees.
Damages
Money awarded by a court to a person injured by the unlawful act or negligence of another person.
Date of Decision
The date that is file-stamped on the judgment.
Decision
Judgment, decree or determination of findings of fact and/or of law by a judge, court or other judicial officer.
Defendant
The person or organization being sued.
Docket
The list of all proceedings and filings in a case.
Et al
And others
Exhibit
A document or other item introduced as evidence during a trial or hearing.
Expedite
To accelerate. The court can decide to accelerate the progress of a pending matter either on its own or in response to a motion to expedite.
File
To place a paper in the official custody of the clerk of court to enter into the files or records of a case.
Filing Deadline
The date a document must be filed with the clerk’s office. In order to be filed, the document and all required copies must be in the clerk’s office and in full compliance with the applicable Rules by 5 p.m. on the filing deadline.
Filing Fee
The sum of money that must be paid before a case can be filed with the Court of Claims.
Immunity
Immunity refers to a protection from personal liability that may be provided to a state employee who is sued in his or her individual capacity.
Judgment Entry
The court’s written decision in a case.
Judicial Review
The authority of a court to review the official actions of other branches of government. For example, the Ohio Court of Claims has judicial review over decisions made by the Ohio Attorney General on claims for Crime Victims Compensation.
Jurisdiction
A court’s authority to decide a case or issue an order.
Magistrate
Judicial officer exercising some of the functions of a judge.
Mediation
A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps them agree on a settlement.
Motion
Oral or written request made by a party to an action before, during, or after a trial, upon which a court issues a ruling or order.
Negligence
Failure to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable person would exercise under the same circumstances.
Ohio Revised Code
The laws enacted by the Ohio General Assembly. The Ohio Revised Code is organized by subject matter and divided into general provisions, titles, chapters, and sections.
Opinion
A court’s written statement explaining its final decision in a case.
Original
The document from which a copy is a made; usually includes the original signature of the person filing the document.
Party
A person, business, or government agency actively involved in the prosecution or defense of a legal proceeding.
Petition for Removal
The transfer of a case from one court to another. In this sense, removal refers to a transfer of a case from a common pleas court to the Court of Claims because the state has been named a defendant either by counterclaim or third party claim. This is not discretionary, as the Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over all claims against the state.
Plaintiff
The person who files the complaint in a civil lawsuit.
Pleadings
The written statements of fact and law filed by the parties to a lawsuit.
Pre-Trial Conference
A meeting between the judge and the parties involved in a lawsuit to narrow the issues of the suit, agree on what will be presented at trial, and make a final effort to settle the case without a trial.
Pro Bono
From the Latin “pro bono publico,” meaning “for the public good.” Legal services performed pro bono are performed by a licensed attorney without any expectation of compensation.
Pro Se
Latin for “for one’s self.” A person appearing pro se or filing pro se in a court does so without the assistance of a licensed attorney.
Record
All the documents and evidence plus transcripts of oral proceedings in a case.
Response
The reply by a party to charges raised in a pleading by the other party.
Service
The delivery of a legal document (such as a complaint, summons, subpoena) notifying the person or organization that a lawsuit has been filed against that person or organization.
Settlement
An agreement between the parties disposing of a lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations
The time within which a plaintiff must bring a lawsuit.
Stay
An order suspending or postponing all or part of a judicial proceeding or the judgment from that proceeding.
Summons
A notice to a defendant that he or she has been sued and is required to appear in court.
Testimony
The evidence given by a witness under oath. It does not include evidence from documents and other physical evidence.
Transcript
A written, word-for-word record of what was said, either in a proceeding such as a trial or during some other conversation, such as an oral deposition.
Witness
A person who testifies to what he or she has seen, heard, or otherwise experienced.