Chapter 2721: DECLARATORY JUDGMENTS

2721.01 Person defined.

As used in this chapter, "person" means any person, partnership, joint-stock company, unincorporated association, society, municipal corporation, or other corporation.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.01

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.02 Force and effect of declaratory judgments - action or proceeding against insurer.

(A) Subject to division (B) of this section, courts of record may declare rights, status, and other legal relations whether or not further relief is or could be claimed. No action or proceeding is open to objection on the ground that a declaratory judgment or decree is prayed for under this chapter. The declaration may be either affirmative or negative in form and effect. The declaration has the effect of a final judgment or decree.

(B) A plaintiff who is not an insured under a particular policy of liability insurance may not commence against the insurer that issued the policy an action or proceeding under this chapter that seeks a declaratory judgment or decree as to whether the policy's coverage provisions extend to an injury, death, or loss to person or property that a particular insured under the policy allegedly tortiously caused the plaintiff to sustain or caused another person for whom the plaintiff is a legal representative to sustain, until a court of record enters in a distinct civil action for damages between the plaintiff and that insured as a tortfeasor a final judgment awarding the plaintiff damages for the injury, death, or loss to person or property involved.

(C) In an action or proceeding for declaratory relief that a judgment creditor commences in accordance with divisions (A) and (B) of this section against an insurer that issued a particular policy of liability insurance, the insurer has and may assert as an affirmative defense against the judgment creditor any coverage defenses that the insurer possesses and could assert against the holder of the policy in an action or proceeding under this chapter between the holder and the insurer.

If, prior to the judgment creditor's commencement of the action or proceeding for declaratory relief, the holder of the policy commences a similar action or proceeding against the insurer for a determination as to whether the policy's coverage provisions extend to the injury, death, or loss to person or property underlying the judgment creditor's judgment, and if the court involved in that action or proceeding enters a final judgment with respect to the policy's coverage or noncoverage of that injury, death, or loss, that final judgment shall be deemed to also have binding legal effect upon the judgment creditor for purposes of the judgment creditor's action or proceeding for declaratory relief against the insurer. This division shall apply notwithstanding any contrary common law principles of res judicata or adjunct principles of collateral estoppel.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.02

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.03 Construction or validity of instrument or legal provision.

Subject to division (B) of section 2721.02 of the Revised Code, any person interested under a deed, will, written contract, or other writing constituting a contract or any person whose rights, status, or other legal relations are affected by a constitutional provision, statute, rule as defined in section 119.01 of the Revised Code, municipal ordinance, township resolution, contract, or franchise may have determined any question of construction or validity arising under the instrument, constitutional provision, statute, rule, ordinance, resolution, contract, or franchise and obtain a declaration of rights, status, or other legal relations under it.

The testator of a will may have the validity of the will determined at any time during the testator's lifetime pursuant to sections 2107.081 to 2107.085 of the Revised Code.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.03

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.04 Contract.

Subject to division (B) of section 2721.02 of the Revised Code, a contract may be construed by a declaratory judgment or decree either before or after there has been a breach of the contract.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.04

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.05 Determination of rights or legal relations.

As used in this section, "incompetent person" means a person who is so mentally impaired as a result of a mental or physical illness or disability, or mental retardation, or as a result of chronic substance abuse, that the person is incapable of taking proper care of the person's self or property or fails to provide for the person's family or other persons for whom the person is charged by law to provide.

Any person interested as or through an executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, or other fiduciary, creditor, devisee, legatee, heir, next of kin, or cestui que trust, in the administration of a trust, or of the estate of a decedent, an infant, an incompetent person, or an insolvent person, may have a declaration of rights or legal relations in respect thereto in any of the following cases:

(A) To ascertain any class of creditors, devisees, legatees, heirs, next of kin, or others;

(B) To direct the executors, administrators, trustees, or other fiduciaries to do or abstain from doing any particular act in their fiduciary capacity;

(C) To determine any question arising in the administration of the estate or trust, including questions of construction of wills and other writings.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.05

Effective Date: 10-01-1953; 2007 HB53 08-07-2007

2721.06 Powers not restricted.

Sections 2721.03 to 2721.05 of the Revised Code do not limit or restrict the exercise of the general powers conferred by division (A) of section 2721.02 of the Revised Code in any action or proceeding in which declaratory relief is sought under this chapter and in which a judgment or decree will terminate the controversy or remove an uncertainty.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.06

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.07 Court may refuse judgment.

Courts of record may refuse to render or enter a declaratory judgment or decree under this chapter if the judgment or decree would not terminate the uncertainty or controversy giving rise to the action or proceeding in which the declaratory relief is sought.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.07

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.08 Appeals.

All judgments and decrees under this chapter may be reviewed on appeal as are other judgments and decrees of the court of record involved.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.08

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.09 Further relief granted.

Subject to section 2721.16 of the Revised Code, whenever necessary or proper, a court of record may grant further relief based on a declaratory judgment or decree previously granted under this chapter. The application for the further relief shall be by a complaint filed in a court of record with jurisdiction to grant the further relief. If the application is sufficient, the court, on reasonable notice, shall require any adverse party whose rights have been adjudicated by the declaratory judgment or decree to show cause why the further relief should not be granted forthwith.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.09

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.10 Determination of issues of fact.

When an action or proceeding in which declaratory relief is sought under this chapter involves the determination of an issue of fact, that issue may be tried and determined in the same manner as issues of fact are tried and determined in other civil actions in the court in which the action or proceeding is pending.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.10

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.11 Costs.

In any action or proceeding in which declaratory relief is sought under this chapter, the court may make an award of court costs as is equitable and just.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.11

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.12 Declaratory judgment procedure.

(A) Subject to division (B) of this section, when declaratory relief is sought under this chapter in an action or proceeding, all persons who have or claim any interest that would be affected by the declaration shall be made parties to the action or proceeding. Except as provided in division (B) of this section, a declaration shall not prejudice the rights of persons who are not made parties to the action or proceeding. In any action or proceeding that involves the validity of a municipal ordinance or franchise, the municipal corporation shall be made a party and shall be heard, and, if any statute or the ordinance or franchise is alleged to be unconstitutional, the attorney general also shall be served with a copy of the complaint in the action or proceeding and shall be heard. In any action or proceeding that involves the validity of a township resolution, the township shall be made a party and shall be heard.

(B) A declaratory judgment or decree that a court of record enters in an action or proceeding under this chapter between an insurer and a holder of a policy of liability insurance issued by the insurer and that resolves an issue as to whether the policy's coverage provisions extend to an injury, death, or loss to person or property that an insured under the policy allegedly tortiously caused shall be deemed to have the binding legal effect described in division (C)(2) of section 3929.06 of the Revised Code and to also have binding legal effect upon any person who seeks coverage as an assignee of the insured's rights under the policy in relation to the injury, death, or loss involved. This division applies whether or not an assignee is made a party to the action or proceeding for declaratory relief and notwithstanding any contrary common law principles of res judicata or adjunct principles of collateral estoppel.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.12

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.13 Liberal construction of chapter.

The provisions of this chapter are remedial and shall be liberally construed and administered.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.13

GC § 12102-12; 115 v 497, § 12; Bureau of Code Revision, 10-1-53; 148 v H 58. Eff 9-24-99.

2721.14 Interpretation.

The provisions of this chapter shall be so interpreted and construed as to effectuate their general purpose to make the law of this state uniform with the law of those states that enact similar provisions and to harmonize, insofar as possible, with federal laws and regulations on the subject of declaratory judgments and decrees.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.14

GC § 12102-15; 115 v 497, § 15; Bureau of Code Revision, 10-1-53; 148 v H 58. Eff 9-24-99.

2721.15 Independent sections.

With the exception of sections 2721.02 and 2721.03 of the Revised Code, the provisions of this chapter are independent and severable, and the invalidity of any part of those provisions does not affect or render the remainder of those provisions invalid or inoperative.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.15

Effective Date: 09-24-1999

2721.16 Award of attorney's fees.

(A)

(1) A court of record shall not award attorney's fees to any party on a claim or proceeding for declaratory relief under this chapter unless any of the following applies:

(a) A section of the Revised Code explicitly authorizes a court of record to award attorney's fees on a claim for declaratory relief under this chapter.

(b) An award of attorney's fees is authorized by section 2323.51 of the Revised Code, by the Civil Rules, or by an award of punitive or exemplary damages against the party ordered to pay attorney's fees.

(c) Regardless of whether a claim for declaratory relief is granted under this chapter, a court of record awards attorney's fees to a fiduciary, beneficiary, or other interested party, the attorney's fees are to be paid out of trust property, estate property, or other property that is the subject of a fiduciary relationship and that is involved in that claim or proceeding for declaratory relief, and the attorney's fees are awarded in accordance with equitable principles that permit recovery of attorney's fees incurred for services that are beneficial to the trust or estate.

(2) References in another section of the Revised Code to an award of costs or expenses incurred in connection with an action or proceeding does not authorize an award of attorney's fees for purposes of division (A)(1) of this section.

(B) Consistent with section 2721.13 of the Revised Code, the provisions of this section are remedial in nature. Notwithstanding any provision of the Revised Code in existence on the day immediately prior to September 24, 1999, notwithstanding any judicial construction prior to September 24, 1999, of a statutory provision of that nature, notwithstanding the holding in any decision of a court of this state, other than a decision based on equitable principles described in division (A)(1)(c) of this section, that authorized an award of attorney's fees to a party to a civil action or proceeding based on common law grounds rather than a statutory authorization of the general assembly, regardless of the date upon which a cause of action accrued that pertains to an action or proceeding in which declaratory relief is sought under this chapter, and regardless of who is the plaintiff or the defendant in an action or proceeding in which declaratory relief is sought under this chapter, division (A) of this section shall apply in connection with both of the following:

(1) An action or proceeding that is commenced on or after September 24, 1999, and that seeks declaratory relief under this chapter;

(2) An action or proceeding that was commenced prior to September 24, 1999, that is pending in a court of record on that date, and that seeks declaratory relief under this chapter.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.16

Effective Date: 01-25-2002

2721.21 Action for registry listing where childhood sexual abuse action barred.

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Defendant" means a person against whom an individual believes that, but for the expiration of the limitation period for the cause of action under section 2305.111 of the Revised Code, the individual would have a cause of action for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse.

(2) "Prosecuting attorney" means the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the defendant resides or, if the defendant does not reside in this state, the prosecuting attorney of Franklin county.

(3) "Reside" has the same meaning as in section 3797.01 of the Revised Code.

(B) In any case in which an individual is precluded from commencing a civil action for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse against a person solely because the limitation period under section 2305.111 of the Revised Code for the action expired on or before the effective date of this section, the attorney general or the prosecuting attorney may bring an action in a court designated in division (C) of this section for a declaratory judgment finding that the person would have been liable for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse but for the expiration of the limitation period under section 2305.111 of the Revised Code. The attorney general or prosecuting attorney may bring an action pursuant to this section only for childhood sexual abuse that allegedly occurred in this state.

(C) If an individual believes that, but for the expiration of the limitation period under section 2305.111 of the Revised Code for an action for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse on or before the effective date of this section, the individual would have a cause of action against a defendant for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse that occurred in this state, the individual may serve written notice of the individual's belief and the basis for the belief simultaneously on the defendant, the attorney general, and the prosecuting attorney. The individual shall serve the notice by certified mail, return receipt requested. The prosecuting attorney within forty-five days after receipt of the notice may commence an action pursuant to division (B) of this section in the court of common pleas of the county in which the prosecuting attorney is elected. If the prosecuting attorney does not commence an action within that forty-five day period, the attorney general within ninety days after receipt of the notice may commence an action pursuant to division (B) of this section in the Franklin county court of common pleas or the court of common pleas of the county in which the defendant resides. If neither the attorney general nor the prosecuting attorney commences an action pursuant to division (B) of this section within the appropriate forty-five-day or ninety-day period after receiving the notice, the individual may commence an action in the court of common pleas of the county in which the individual or the defendant resides or in which the childhood sexual abuse allegedly occurred for a declaratory judgment finding that the defendant would be liable for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse but for the expiration of the limitation period under section 2305.111 of the Revised Code.

(D) If the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence in an action brought pursuant to this section that the defendant would be liable for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse but for the expiration of the limitation period under section 2305.111 of the Revised Code, the court shall enter a judgment with that finding against the defendant and shall order that the defendant be listed on the civil registry maintained by the attorney general pursuant to section 3797.08 of the Revised Code. The court shall notify the defendant of the defendant's obligations under sections 3797.02 , 3797.03 , and 3797.04 of the Revised Code.

(E) In an action brought by an individual pursuant to division (C) of this section, the court may award reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing party.

(F) After the expiration of six years from the date on which a court orders pursuant to this section that an individual be listed on the civil registry maintained by the attorney general pursuant to section 3797.08 of the Revised Code, the registrant may apply to the court that issued the order to be removed from the registry. The court may order that the individual's name be removed from the registry if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that since the individual was first listed on the civil registry the individual has not been found liable in damages in an action for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse, has not been required to register pursuant to section 2950.04 or 2950.041 of the Revised Code or a similar statute of any other state, and is not likely to commit an act in the future that would subject the individual to the requirement to register under section 2950.04 , 2950.041 , or 3797.02 of the Revised Code.

Cite as R.C. § 2721.21

Effective Date: 08-03-2006