On January 4, 2018, the Supreme Court of Ohio in Lucarell v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. reaffirmed that punitive damages are not recoverable in breach of contract cases. If a breach of contract involves conduct that also constitutes a tort, punitive damages can only be awarded for the tort, not for the breach of contract, and are subject to statutory limitations.
On April 18, 2016, the OMA together with other business groups, filed a memorandum in support of jurisdiction, asking the court to accept the appeal being pursued by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The OMA and its allies also filed an amicus brief supporting Nationwide.
The two propositions of law of interest to the OMA are: (1) An award of punitive damages is not available for breach of contract and is instead limited to independent claims based on tort; and (2) Prevention of performance is not an available defense to a fully executed release absent some other nonperformance-related contract defense that would make the release unenforceable.
This ruling is an important victory for Ohio’s manufacturers. 1/11/2018