In the Supreme Court opinion of Carter v. Reese, 2105-0108, the Court extended the application of Ohio’s Good Samaritan law to a negligent motorist. The Good Samaritan law was enacted to protect health care professionals and trained first responders who voluntarily administer emergency medical care at the scene of an emergency.

In this case, the plaintiff was trapped between his tractor-trailer and a loading dock and called for help. Although he was not in physical pain, he could not free himself. The defendant, who did not know how to operate the rig, got into the tractor and instead of moving it forward, rolled it backward and crushed the plaintiff’s leg which subsequently resulted in an amputation. Even though the situation did not demand urgent action, the Court found the defendant to be shielded from liability under the law.

The statute, ORC 2305.23 states: ” No person shall be liable in civil damages for administering emergency care or treatment at the scene of an emergency…unless such acts constitute willful or wanton misconduct.”

The Supreme Court extended the grant of immunity to a non-health care professional for the first time, and also decided without a jury hearing the facts that the facts presented an “emergency” to the defendant that responded. This was despite the fact that the plaintiff was not in pain or danger, and that the defendant acted negligently in operating the tractor when he did not know how.

The Ohio Supreme Court once again usurped the role of the legislature in finding the law applies to more than those rendering voluntary medical care. The Court also usurped the constitutional right of a trial by jury concluding on its own that the scene presented an “emergency”.