(Feb. 24, 2009) The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that electronic filing of a notice of appeal is an insufficient method for filing an appeal, thus requiring dismissal of the appeal.
Two plaintiffs in asbestos litigation in Ohio sought to appeal a trial court's summary judgment dismissal of their cases. The trial court handling the litigation had a “file and serve” system in place whereby parties could file pleadings electronically. The Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure do not provide for electronic filing of a notice of appeal, and the intermediate appellate court has not adopted an electronic filing system. To appeal their cases, the parties filed notices of appeal using the trial court's electronic system. They also filed paper notices of appeal, but these were filed after the deadline. The intermediate appellate court dismissed the appeal.
The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the appeal. It held that appellate procedure is governed by the Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure, which cannot be overridden by the trial court's adoption of an electronic filing system. It also held that unless a local rule of an appellate court expressly permits the electronic filing of a notice of appeal, a party must file a paper notice of appeal conforming to the Rules of Appellate Procedure. (Louden v. A.O. Smith Corp., No. 2009-Ohio-319 (Feb. 4, 2009), available at http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/0/2009/2009-Ohio-319.pdf.)