What is a political subdivision
A political subdivision is a local government entity created by the state to achieve its obligations. Still, the general rule for the definition is broad and includes every political body responsible for governmental activities in a geographic area smaller than that of the state. Examples include cities, counties, villages, towns, and districts such as water, park, airport, and school.
Government immunity pertains to various legal doctrines that afford municipalities, local government entities, and political subdivisions immunity from tort, as well as exceptions and limitations to that immunity. Under Ohio Revised Code 2744.05(B)(1), insurers are barred from pursuing a subrogation claim against a political subdivision.
To recover damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property caused by an act or omission in connection with a government or proprietary function, Ohio Revised Code 2744.05(B)(1) provides that in an action against a political subdivision: “If a claimant receives or is entitled to receive benefits for injuries or loss allegedly incurred from a policy or policies of insurance or any other source, the benefits shall be disclosed to the court, and the amount of the benefits shall be deducted from any award against a political subdivision recovered by that claimant. No insurer or other person is entitled to bring an action under a subrogation provision in an insurance or other contract against a political subdivision with respect to those benefits.”
The immunity standard has evolved over the years from a mildly detailed and consistent definition to a flexible and subjective guide. Of course, the definition contained in Ohio Revised Code 2744.01(F) is lengthy. In fact, it is so lengthy it is impressive.
Examples of a political subdivision
Some interesting highlights from the statute include county hospitals along with their commissioners and trustees, port authorities, fire and ambulance districts, waste management districts, and correctional facilities. Further, identical language is contained in Ohio Revised Code 3345.50(B)(2), which applies to state universities and colleges.
A note regarding claims against a public utility
In Ohio, as in most states, public utilities have significant influence and power. One way in which the utility exercises that power is to try to move a case in litigation to a more utility-friendly venue, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Ohio Revised Code 4905.26 vests the PUCO with jurisdiction to hear and decide claims related to the provision of service by utilities. That being said, not every claim against a utility belongs in the PUCO and you can learn more about that opinion here.
When determining whether an entity qualifies as a political subdivision, it is important to consult Ohio Revised Code 2744.01(C), which defines “governmental functions”. If an entity is providing services that fall under the definition of governmental functions, then it cannot be pursued for subrogation. Keis George pursues commercial and residential property claims throughout the Midwest United States. We have the resources to confront complex claims, provide highly personalized attention, and offer a competitive fee structure. You may expect superior case management, information security, and increased recoveries. Be sure to contact one of our subrogation lawyers to discuss action against a governmental entity.