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Date: 10-15-2019

Case Style:

J & V PROPERTY MANAGEMENT -vs- WAYNE LINK

Case Number: 19CA6

Judge: W. Scott Gwin

Court: COURT OF APPEALS KNOX COUNTY, OHIO FIFTH APPELLATE DISTRICT

Plaintiff's Attorney:

Defendant's Attorney:

Description:


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On September 5, 2018, appellee J&V Property Management LLC filed a
forcible entry and detainer action against appellant Wayne Link. The complaint alleged
Link entered into possession of the premises located at 6 West Chester Street, Apartment
5, in Mount Vernon, Ohio, as a tenant under a written lease dated August 26, 2014. J&V
further averred that Link was in default of payment of rent for March 1, 2018 to August
31, 2018 in the amount of $720.00. J&V sought judgment against Link for restitution of
the premises and costs. Link filed an answer to the complaint, stating he did not enter
into a residential lease with J&V, but entered into a residential lease agreement with D.R.
Homes. Link stated the rent arrearage is owed to D.R. Homes and thus D.R. Homes is
the real party in interest. Link filed a counterclaim against J&V and a cross-claim against
D.R. Homes, arguing D.R. Homes and J&V are avoiding compliance with housing
standards and D.R. Homes did not maintain the premises in habitable condition. Link
sought $20,000 in compensatory damages and $20,000 in punitive damages, and/or
injunctive relief of the premises being repaired and in compliance with HUD requirements.
Link also filed a motion to transfer the case to the Knox County Common Pleas Court.
J&V opposed the motion to transfer.
{¶3} On October 1, 2018, the Mount Vernon Municipal Court issued a judgment
entry finding it did not have jurisdiction to entertain the forcible entry and detainer
complaint and dismissed the writ of restitution because the notice to vacate attached to
Knox County, Case No. 19CA6 3
the complaint did not contain part of the mandatory statutory language. The municipal
court also transferred Link’s counterclaim and cross-claim to the Knox County Court of
Common Pleas for adjudication.
{¶4} On October 30, 2018, J&V again filed its complaint in forcible entry and
detainer, alleging Link was in default of payment of rent for March 1, 2018 to August 31,
2018 in the amount of $720.00 and seeking restitution of the premises. J&V attached to
the complaint an October 1, 2018 notice in writing to vacate with the statutorily required
language.
{¶5} Link filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in the Knox County Common
Pleas Court on November 15, 2018. Link argued the pleadings state he entered into a
lease agreement with J&V, but the lease Link signed is with D.R. Homes and the
pleadings say nothing about J&V’s relationship with D.R. Homes.
{¶6} The Knox County Court of Common Pleas issued a judgment entry on
February 12, 2019 granting the motion to dismiss the complaint because the complaint
does not set forth the relationship between J&V and D.R. Homes. The trial court thus
dismissed the complaint J&V filed on October 30, 2018. The trial court noted that J&V
“may very well possess standing to sue.” The trial court also denied Link’s motion to
amend cross-claim and counterclaim, as well as his motion to add Joe Hedrick, Vicki
Hedrick, Rebekah Mullins, Daniel Mullins, and Knox Metropolitan Authority as parties.
{¶7} On February 27, 2019, J&V served Link with a thirty-day notice of
termination of periodic tenancy pursuant to R.C. 5321.17(B) by posting it on the door.
J&V served a notice to vacate on Link on April 3, 2019, with the statutorily required
language. After Link failed to vacate the premises, J&V filed a forcible entry and detainer
Knox County, Case No. 19CA6 4
complaint on April 9, 2019. The complaint alleges as follows: (1) Link entered into
possession of the premises as the tenant of D.R. Homes Ltd. under a written lease dated
August 26, 2014; J&V became the successor-in-interest to the lease when it purchased
the real property located at 6 West Chester Street by a warranty deed from D.R. Homes
dated July 25, 2018; pursuant to the lease, the monthly rental amount was $425 per
month; Link is in default of payment of rent for March 1, 2018 to April 1, 2019; J&V caused
service of a thirty-day notice to vacate the premises in accordance with R.C. 5321.17(B)
on February 27, 2019; J&V caused service of notice in writing to vacate the premises on
Link in accordance with R.C. 5321.11 and R.C. 5321.17(B); and Link is unlawfully
detaining possession of the premises. J&V sought judgment against Link for restitution
of the premises.
{¶8} Link filed a motion to dismiss on April 16, 2019, requesting the case be
dismissed and/or transferred to the Knox County Court of Common Pleas. The municipal
court issued a judgment entry on April 24, 2019 denying Link’s motion to dismiss and
motion to transfer.
{¶9} On April 29, 2019, the municipal court conducted a hearing on the complaint
and issued a judgment entry granting appellee restitution of the property. The judgment
entry states that Link failed to appear at the hearing.
{¶10} Subsequently, the clerk of courts issued a writ of restitution, including an
eviction date of May 6, 2019. Link filed a motion to stay execution of judgment and
appeal. The trial court issued a judgment entry on May 3, 2019, finding a use and
occupancy bond to be the appropriate type of supersedeas bond in this case and staying
the writ of restitution on the following conditions: (1) Link deposit $425 with the clerk of
Knox County, Case No. 19CA6 5
court on May 6, 2019; (2) Link deposit $425 with the clerk on the first business day of
each month while the appeal is pending; and (3) Link pay for all utilities, except water and
garbage, by making payments directly to the utility service provider in a timely manner.
The trial court also stated it would immediately vacate the stay of execution if Link fails to
make any monthly payment, or fails to pay all utility service providers, except water and
garbage, in a timely manner.
{¶11} Appellant appeals the April 29, 2019 judgment entry of the Mount Vernon
Municipal Court and assigns the following as error:
{¶12} “I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY EXERCISING JURISDICTION IN THIS
CASE.
{¶13} “II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY NOT DISMISSING AN EVICTION
COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO THE OHIO CIVIL RULE 12(B)(6) BECAUSE PRIVITY DID
NOT EXIST BETWEEN THE PARTIES AT THE TIME OF THE ALLEGED BREACH BY
THE APPELLANT.”
I.
{¶14} In his first assignment of error, Link argues the trial court committed error in
exercising subject matter jurisdiction over the April 9th forcible entry and detainer action
because the counterclaims from the 2018 forcible entry and detainer action remained
pending in the common pleas court. Jurisdiction is the trial court’s “statutory or
constitutional power to adjudicate the case.” Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better
Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 118 S.Ct. 1003 (1998); Morrison v. Steiner, 32 Ohio St.2d 86,
290 N.E.2d 841 (1972). Subject matter jurisdiction is defined as a court's power to hear
Knox County, Case No. 19CA6 6
and decide cases. Pratt v. Hurley, 102 Ohio St.3d 81, 806 N.E.2d 992 (2004); Wells Fargo
Bank, Nat'l. Assn. v. Elliott, 5th Dist. Delaware No. 13 CAE 03 0012, 2013-Ohio-3690.
{¶15} Pursuant to R.C. 5321.03(A)(4), a landlord may bring an action under
Chapter 1923 for possession of the premises if: (A)(1) the tenant is in default of the
payment of rent or (A)(4) a tenant is holding over the tenant’s term. R.C. 1923.01, entitled
“jurisdiction in forcible entry and detainer,” provides that any judge of a county or
municipal court or a court of common pleas, within the judge’s proper area of jurisdiction,
may inquire about persons who make unlawful and forcible entry into lands * * *.” Further,
that if an unlawful and forcible entry has been made, “a judge shall cause the plaintiff in
an action under this chapter to have restitution of the lands or tenements.” Id. Thus, the
Mount Vernon Municipal Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the April 9th forcible
entry and detainer complaint.
{¶16} Additionally, Link contends the trial court erred in issuing the April 29th
judgment and writ of restitution of the premises due to the doctrines of res judicata and
collateral estoppel. “The doctrine of res judicata involves both claim preclusion
(historically called estoppel by judgment in Ohio) and issue preclusion (traditionally known
as collateral estoppel).” Grava v. Parkman Twp., 73 Ohio St.3d 379, 653 N.E.2d 226
(1995). Claim preclusion “prevents a party from litigating a cause of action after a prior
court has rendered a final judgment on the merits of that cause as to that party.” Krahn
v. McDonald, 142 Ohio St. 299, 52 N.E.2d 67 (1943). Issue preclusion “precludes the
relitigation of an issue that has been ‘actually and necessarily litigated and determined in
a prior action.’” Id, quoting McDonough Power Equipment, Inc., 154 Ohio St.3d 1431,
2018-Ohio-4670, 111 N.E.3d 1192.
Knox County, Case No. 19CA6 7
{¶17} In order to apply the doctrine of res judicata, we must conclude the
following: “(1) there was a prior valid judgment on the merits; (2) the second action
involved the same parties as the first action; (3) the present action raises claims that were
or could have been litigated in the prior action; and (4) both actions arise out of the same
transaction or occurrence.” Grava v. Parkman Twp., 70 Ohio St.3d 379, 653 N.E.2d 226
(1995).
{¶18} Link cites to our opinion in Adams v. Romine, 5th Dist. Muskingum No.
CT2018-0043, 2019-Ohio-482, for the proposition that the April 9th complaint was barred
by res judicata. In Adams, we found that, pursuant to Civil Rule 13(A), the appellant’s
claim in the case was a compulsory counterclaim she was required to assert in the
landlord’s earlier action for damages and thus appellant was barred by the doctrine of res
judicata from bringing her claim. However, there is an important distinction between the
Adams case and the instant case. In Adams, the previous forcible entry and detainer
action was joined with an action for damages. Id. We specifically stated that claims
stemming from the rental agreement or the Landlord-Tenant Act are compulsory
counterclaims in lawsuits for forcible entry and detainer coupled with an action for back
rent and/or money damages. Id. However, in this case, none of the forcible entry and
detainer actions filed by J&V were coupled with an action for back rent and/or money
damages. Thus, Adams is inapplicable.
{¶19} Pursuant to R.C. 1923.03, judgments under forcible entry and detainer “are
not a bar to a later action brought by either party.” R.C. 1923.03 has been interpreted to
permit subsequent suits between landlords and tenants involving issues and disputes not
actually litigated in the previous cases. Showe Mgmt. Corp. v. Hazelbaker, 12th Dist.
Knox County, Case No. 19CA6 8
Fayette No. CA2006-01-004, 2006-Ohio-6356. In this case, restitution of the premises,
at issue in the forcible entry and detainer action filed by J&V on April 9th, was not actually
and necessarily litigated and determined in the common pleas court. In the common
pleas court’s judgment entry dismissing the October 30, 2018 forcible entry and detainer
complaint, judgment was not rendered on the merits of the case. Thus, it cannot serve as
a basis for res judicata. Id. Further, though Link contends the April 9th complaint is the
same as the previous two forcible entry and detainer complaints, the April 9th complaint
contains allegations of the relationship between J&V and D.R. Homes, and contains a
thirty day notice to vacate the premises that was served after the dismissal of the other
eviction actions.
{¶20} Link cites Endres Floral Co. v. Endres, 5th Dist. Tuscarawas No.
90AP020016, 90AP090053, 1991 WL 42512 (March 21, 1991) for the proposition that all
claims in this case are necessarily bound and must be brought together in the common
pleas court. In Endres, this Court determined the trial court should have certified the
forcible entry and detainer action with the counterclaim in a common pleas court case
because if the appellee prevailed in the common pleas court action, he would retain the
right of possession, in addition to damages, because the possession of the premises was
conditioned on employment. Id. We found the employment action and the forcible entry
and detainer action were necessarily bound together because both had been brought by
the plaintiff in the same court against the same defendant, and because the tenancy was
conditioned on employment. Id. By contrast, in this case, the claims currently pending in
the Knox County Common Pleas Court are only from Link and there is not a separate
employment relationship that inextricably intertwine the parties. The parties have no other
Knox County, Case No. 19CA6 9
agreements that would make possession of the property conditioned on another
relationship. Further, in his counterclaim and cross-claims, appellant requested
damages, not possession of the premises. Accordingly, unlike in Endres, the
counterclaims and cross-claims pending in the common pleas court are not necessarily
bound with the forcible entry and detainer action.
{¶21} Link also argues the municipal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
because, due to the pendency of the counterclaims, the municipal court could not
determine whether a lessor/lessee relationship existed between the parties. We first note
that Hostetler v. Warnes, 5th Dist. Holmes No. CA-546, 1996 WL 488555 (Aug. 8, 1996)
is factually distinguishable from the instant case. Further, the municipal court in this case
did not lack subject matter jurisdiction because, even if it could not determine that a
lessor/lessee relationship existed between the parties, the municipal court had subject
matter jurisdiction to determine that Link was a holdover tenant pursuant to R.C. 5321.03.
See Ruble v. M&L Properties, Ltd., 5th Dist. Ashland No. 10-COA-006, 2010-Ohio-6356
(stating a holdover tenant may be treated as a trespasser).
{¶22} The municipal court did not commit error in exercising jurisdiction over the
April 9, 2019 forcible entry and detainer complaint. Link’s first assignment of error is
overruled.
II.
{¶23} In his second assignment of error, Link contends the trial court erred by not
dismissing the eviction complaint because privity did not exist between the parties. Link
argues the trial court’s April 29th judgment entry and writ of restitution is contrary to the
Knox County, Case No. 19CA6 10
common pleas court’s decision issued on February 12, 2019 dismissing the October 30,
2018 forcible entry and detainer action.
{¶24} A party is in privity with another if he or she “succeeds to an estate or an
interest formerly held by the other,” or where a party is so identified in interest with another
that the party represents the same legal right. City of Columbus v. Union Cemetery Assn.,
45 Ohio St.2d 47, 341 N.E.2d 298 (1976).
{¶25} In this case, the April 9th complaint provides that J&V is the successor-in
interest to Link’s written lease with D.R. Homes when it purchased the real property via
warranty deed from D.R. Homes. J&V attached the warranty deed to its complaint. Thus,
J&V is in privity with D.R. Homes and entitled to enforce the written lease between Link
and D.R. Homes because, pursuant to the warranty deed, it succeeds to an interest
formerly held by D.R. Homes. Additionally, Link failed to provide this Court with a
transcript of the forcible entry and detainer hearing held on April 29, 2019. When portions
of the transcript necessary for resolution of assigned errors are omitted from the record,
the reviewing court has nothing to pass upon and thus, as to those assigned errors, the
court has no choice but to presume the validity of the lower court’s proceedings, and
affirm. Knapp v. Edwards Laboratories, 61 Ohio St.2d 197, 400 N.E.2d 384 (1980).
{¶26} Further, we find Link’s argument that the April 29th judgment entry and writ
of restitution are contrary to the common pleas court’s decision on February 12, 2019 to
be not well-taken. First, the common pleas court’s February 12th entry dismissed the
October 30, 2018 forcible entry and detainer action. Subsequently, J&V served Link with
a new thirty-day notice of termination, motion to vacate, and forcible entry and detainer
complaint. Additionally, in its February 12th judgment entry, the common pleas court
Knox County, Case No. 19CA6 11
dismissed the October 30, 2018 forcible entry and detainer action because the complaint
did not set forth the relationship between J&V and D.R. Homes. However, the court
specifically noted that, “J&V may very well possess standing to sue.”
{¶27} Standing is “a jurisdictional requirement.” Bank of Am., N.A. v. Kuchta, 141
Ohio St.3d 75, 2014-Ohio-4275, 21 N.E.3d 1040. A “determination of standing
necessarily looks to the rights of the individual parties to bring the action, as they must
assert a personal stake in the outcome of the action in order to establish standing.” Id.
In the April 9th complaint, unlike in the October 30th complaint, J&V set forth the
relationship between J&V and D.R. Homes. J&V asserts it is in the successor-in-interest
to the written lease when it purchased the real property located at 6 West Chester Street
by a warranty deed from D.R. Homes dated July 25, 2018. J&V attached the warranty
deed to its April 9th complaint.
{¶28} In the balance of his brief, Link argues as to why his counterclaims and
cross-claims should succeed and why he did not pay rent. We find any arguments as to
the counterclaims and cross-claims are not relevant in the instant action. Further, though
Link claims he rightfully failed to pay rent and thus restitution was not appropriate, Link
failed to provide this Court with a transcript of the forcible entry and detainer hearing.
Thus, we must presume the regularity of the proceedings and affirm. Knapp v. Edwards
Laboratories, 61 Ohio St.2d 197, 400 N.E.2d 384 (1980).
{¶29} Link’s second assignment of error is overruled.

Outcome: Based on the foregoing, Link’s assignments of error are overruled.

The April 29, 2019 judgment entry and writ of restitution issued by the
Mount Vernon Municipal Court are affirmed.

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