Following another unanimous vote – this time from the Ohio House – Senate Bill 13 (SB 13) becomes the first piece of legislation to reach Governor DeWine’s desk in the 134th General Assembly. This pro-business bill was supported by the Ohio Chamber because its enactment will prove beneficial to the business and legal climates in the Buckeye State.
As mentioned in my previous blog, SB 13 will shrink the statute of limitation for written contracts from eight years to six years while lowering the limitation period for oral contracts from six years to four years. This shorter timeframe to bring a lawsuit arising from a contract will benefit employers in our state by giving them more certainty about their legal risks sooner. In turn, that greater certainty will enable employers to use dollars that were once set aside in reserve or paid for higher insurance premiums to more productive uses such as expanding their business, training employees on new skills or making capital improvements.
The passage of SB 13 comes at a time when Ohio’s legal climate could use a tune-up. A recent US Chamber of Commerce survey found Ohio had the 15th worst legal climate for lawsuit abuse in the nation. Senate Bill 13 will bolster the legal climate and help prevent lawsuit abuse by encouraging litigants to bring contract claims sooner – rather than waiting until years after the breach to commence a lawsuit.
Also included in SB 13 is a statute of repose for attorneys and law firms that would bar legal malpractice claims from moving forward if it is filed more than four years after the act that forms the basis of the claim. This legal protection mirrors the statute of repose granted to many other professionals in Ohio including architects, engineers, doctors, registered nurses, dentists, and optometrists.
The Ohio Chamber appreciates the quick action that lawmakers in Columbus took on this important legislation after a prior version of SB 13 – House Bill 251 – failed to make it across the finish line last General Assembly despite broad bi-partisan support.