High court rules on $2.4 million award to former Valley insuranc - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

High court rules on $2.4 million award to former Valley insurance agent

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Christine Lucarell Oliver Christine Lucarell Oliver
COLUMBUS, Ohio -

The attorney for Canfield City Council member Christine Lucarell Oliver says he his reviewing an Ohio Supreme Court decision on the nearly $2.4 million dollars she was awarded in a lawsuit against an insurance company.

The high court ruled on Thursday that Lucarell Oliver was not entitled to punitive damages in her breach-of-contract claim against Nationwide Insurance.

Five years ago a jury in Mahoning County recommended that Lucarell Oliver was entitled to nearly $43 million from Nationwide, who Luccarell Oliver had sued claiming that the company had convinced her to open a new insurance agency when it intended to fire her after she generated a profitable business.

The jury award was reduced by the trial judge and further reduced on appeal to $2,075,678 in compensatory damages and $200,020 in punitive damages.

Asked what the Supreme Court's decision means to damages awarded to Lucarell Oliver, her attorney, Randy J. Hart of Cleveland told 21 News that he is reviewing the 21-page ruling.

Meanwhile Eric Hardgrove, the Director of Corporate COmmunications for Nationwide issued a statement Thursday saying:

Nationwide is pleased with the court's decision, which vindicates Nationwide. The decision soundly rejects the charge that Nationwide engaged in fraud.  As we have maintained throughout this case, our objective is and has always been to help position our agents for success, not failure.   

This important decision by the Ohio Supreme Court supports that Nationwide acted in good faith in seeking to enforce the terms of its contracts and further favorably clarifies the law surrounding contractual relations in Ohio for both Nationwide and the business community. 

This decision corrects fundamental legal errors that were made by the lower courts that led to an improper jury verdict, while affirming what numerous courts have previously found, that Nationwide's exclusive agents are independent contractors, not employees. 

The case has been sent back to the Seventh District Court of Appeals for further consideration

The Ohio Supreme Court's decision may be seen here

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