City of Lakewood Seizes Next Victory in Court of Appeals RulingMay 11, 2018
On Thursday, May 10, 2018, the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cleveland issued two rulings in favor of the City of Lakewood in Edward Graham vs. City of Lakewood. The decisions both dissolved a temporary restraining order that prohibited the demolition of Lakewood Hospital and unanimously affirmed Judge John O’Donnell’s 2017 dismissal of the Graham lawsuit in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
These orders are final and end the lawsuit in the Court of Appeals.
In Graham, five Lakewood residents in 2015 sued the city, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and the Lakewood Hospital Association over the operation and ultimate closure of Lakewood Hospital. The suit claimed these five taxpayers could stand in place of the city government to enforce historic agreements governing the hospital and negate the 2015 master agreement over the future of healthcare in Lakewood. Although that master agreement was affirmed by Lakewood’s citizens in a 2016 referendum vote, the Graham plaintiffs continued their lawsuit and appeal into 2018.
In affirming Judge O’Donnell’s original dismissal of the lawsuit, the appellate court unanimously wrote that “City Council has passed, and the voters have approved, the parties entering into the master agreement. The city cannot now enjoin what the voters have approved.” As had the trial judge, the appellate court refused to permit these citizens standing to litigate over matters that have long since been decided by the elected officials and voters of Lakewood.
Defending the lawsuit through its appeal cost the Lakewood taxpayers $198,000, according to Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler.
Graham was the second lawsuit dismissed involving Lakewood Hospital. Earlier in 2018, the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear State Sen. Michael Skindell’s appeal of the dismissal of his case against the city, which alleged City Council acted inappropriately in adopting the 2015 master agreement.
“It’s clear to me the appellate judges put a great deal of thought into this opinion, just as Judge O’Donnell did when he originally dismissed the lawsuit,” Butler said. “I’m gratified that the courts continue to affirm the actions of our elected officials in the face of these misguided, cynical, costly efforts to throw hurdles in the path of Lakewood’s progress. While this ruling is a shot in the arm for our public servants, more importantly, it’s a win for our citizens.”
Click here to read the full court opinion.