On Monday, October 30, 2023, the City of Rittman filed a complaint for a writ of prohibition with the Supreme Court of Ohio seeking to prevent Judge Corey E. Spitler of the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas from exercising jurisdiction over a tax refund lawsuit filed against the city.

The case is entitled “City of Rittman v. Judge Corey E. Spitler,” with case number 2023-1388.

The underlying lawsuit was filed as a class action by Rittman taxpayers Tara Boler and Trista Bise, who allege the city illegally collected an additional 0.5% income tax from 2008 to 2022 after the expiration of a voter-approved levy. The city voluntarily lowered its income tax rate to 1% for 2022 and refunded overpayments for that year, but declined to provide refunds for 2008-2021 taxes already spent.

Boler and Bise filed suit for declaratory judgment, tax refunds, and equitable relief without complying with statutory requirements to protest taxes under Ohio Revised Code 2723.01 et seq. The city moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Judge Spitler denied dismissal, allowing the suit to proceed.

In its prohibition complaint, the city contends Judge Spitler patently and unambiguously lacks jurisdiction over tax refund claims filed outside the statutory schemes in ORC 2723.01 and Chapter 718. The city argues that the statutes provide the exclusive means to challenge a tax’s legality or obtain any other refund. Allowing the case to proceed would force the city to respond to discovery without the authority of law.

The city asks the Ohio Supreme Court to issue a writ prohibiting Judge Spitler from exercising jurisdiction and to stay his orders allowing the case to move forward. The city argues past precedent supports granting prohibition where lower courts bypass special statutory proceedings prescribed by the legislature.

The city seeks the writ of prohibition along with attorneys’ fees, costs, and any other appropriate relief.

Judge Spitler’s office is located at Wayne County Common Pleas Court 107 West Liberty Street Public Square Wooster, Ohio 44691. His bio can be found on waynecourtofcommonpleas.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.