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Employee Liability

It is typically Miami University not the individual employee that is named as the defendant in a lawsuit involving University activity. On rare occasions, individual employees are named as defendants in their official capacity (e.g., Ms. Robin Parker, in her official capacity as a General Counsel). In these instances, the lawsuit is actually against Miami University and the University will automatically defend the lawsuit and pay any damages that may be awarded.

In some cases, however, an attempt is made to sue an employee in his or her individual capacity (e.g., Ms. Robin Parker, individually). In these cases, the person bringing the lawsuit is seeking money damages directly from the individual.  Ohio law provides significant protection against individual employee liability and generally shields employees from individual liability. Employees have immunity for claims brought under Ohio law and are entitled to indemnification for claims brought under federal or other law.

This report is intended to serve as an overview of the very limited circumstances under which employees of Miami University may be sued personally for money damages. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding individual liability in general.

Immunity for Claims Arising Under Ohio Law

Under Ohio law, each employee is immune, from individual liability for acts taken in the scope of his or her responsibilities as an employee. There is no immunity for acts taken by an employee which are manifestly outside the scope of employee's responsibilities or for acts that are taken with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner.

In order to sue an employee in his or her individual capacity under Ohio law, the lawsuit must allege that the employee acted manifestly outside the scope of employment responsibilities, or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner. In such cases, the employee is entitled to a hearing before the Court of Claims. The Court of Claims will grant the employee immunity and order the claims dismissed unless the Court determines that employee was, in fact, acting manifestly outside the scope of his or her employment responsibilities or with a malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a reckless or wanton manner.

In two very limited circumstances, Ohio law will not prevent an employee from being sued in his or her individual capacity. 

First, immunity is not provided for civil actions that arise out of the operation of a motor vehicle. Thus, an individual employee is not immune from claims that arise out of an automobile accident. However, if the accident occurs while the employee is engaged in the performance of employment responsibilities, the claim must first be brought against Miami University in the Court of Claims. Only if the Court of Claims determines that Miami University is not liable may a lawsuit then be brought against an individual employee. 

Second, immunity will not be provided in civil actions in which the State of Ohio is the party bringing the lawsuit against the employee. In exceptional circumstances, the State of Ohio may seek to recover money personally from an employee. These circumstances generally arise under laws that impose personal liability for financial misconduct. For example, if an employee illegally expends public funds, fails to collect money due, fails to account for public funds or misappropriates or converts public money for their own use, the State may seek reimbursement. The law also imposes personal liability on employees who, without authority, enter into contracts to pay money on behalf of the University.

Indemnification For Claims Under Federal Or Other Law

If an employee is sued in his or her individual capacity on a claim arising under federal law, the law of another state, or of a foreign jurisdiction, the employee is generally entitled to have the University provide legal counsel and pay any judgment or settlement of the claim up to one million dollars.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is responsible for determining whether an employee is entitled to legal counsel to defend the suit. Legal counsel will not be provided if the employee was acting manifestly outside his or her employment responsibilities, or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner. If the Ohio Attorney General’s Office determines that legal counsel should not be provided, the employee is entitled to challenge that determination in the Ohio Court of Claims.

Indemnification will not be provided:

  • If the University's insurance policy will pay the liability
  • If the employee was acting manifestly outside the scope of his or her employment responsibilities, or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner
  • Punitive damages, unless the employee was not acting as described in No. 2 above, in which case punitive damages may be indemnified
  • To pay any portion of a settlement or consent judgment that the Attorney General or University determines is unreasonable

The University, though the Office of General Counsel, will conduct an investigation to determine whether the employee should be indemnified. If the investigation determines that the employee was not acting manifestly outside the scope of his or her employment responsibilities, or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner, indemnification will be recommended. Miami's determination is subject to the approval of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. An employee is entitled to challenge any decision not to provide indemnification in the Court of Claims. The Court of Claims will then determine whether indemnification should be provided.

Insurance

In addition to the immunity and indemnification provided by law, Miami also maintains an Educators Legal Liability insurance policy. The policy provides for both legal defense and payment of damages. This policy may provide coverage in circumstances where an employee might not be entitled to immunity or indemnification. Any questions regarding actual policy coverage must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Miami also shares an excess liability umbrella policy with several other Ohio public universities.

Conclusion

By virtue of the laws relating to immunity and indemnification, employees generally have no individual liability except in those circumstances where the employee was acting manifestly outside the scope of his or her employment responsibilities or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner. Miami University also maintains liability insurance which may provide additional protection.

* This Report is for informational purposes only. Any question regarding indemnity or immunity must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Contact the Office of General Counsel if you are sued in your individual capacity or receive notice of a potential legal claim for acts related to your employment with Miami University.

Locations
Luxembourg
West Chester
Middletown
Hamilton
Oxford
  • Luxembourg
    Luxembourg

    John E. Dolibois European Center, Luxembourg

    One of Miami's oldest continuous study abroad programs, the Miami University John E. Dolibois Center (MUDEC) in Luxembourg offers students the opportunity to enroll in Miami classes taught by European-based and Ohio-based Miami faculty. Students enjoy a unique combination of first-class academics, engagement in the local community, and various faculty-guided and independent travel opportunities.

    Contact and emergency information for the Luxembourg Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    Château de Differdange
    1, Impasse du Château
    L-4524 Differdange
    Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
    luxembourg@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/luxembourg

    217-222 MacMillan Hall
    531 E. Spring Street
    Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA

    Directions

    Main Operator: 011-352-582222-1
    Oxford-based Coordinator: 513-529-5050
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • West Chester
    West Chester

    Voice of America Learning Center

    Located midway between Cincinnati and Dayton along I-75, the Voice of America Learning Center (VOALC) offers undergraduate and graduate courses and programs drawn from Miami's Regional and Oxford campuses. Home to Miami's MBA program, the Learning Center provides ready access to graduate programs for area educators and courses leading to the BIS degree for undergraduates.

    Contact and emergency information for the Voice of America Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    7847 VOA Park Dr.
    (Corner of VOA Park Dr. and Cox Rd.)
    West Chester, OH 45069
     
    voalc@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/voalc

    Printable Floor Plan
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-895-8862
    (From Middletown) 513-217-8862
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Middletown
    Middletown

    Middletown Regional Campus

    Nestled on 141 acres near I-75, Miami University Middletown offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Nearby Greentree Health Science Academy immerses Miami's nursing and health information technology students in the health care experience while taking classes.

    Contact and emergency information for the Middletown Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

     4200 N. University Blvd.
    Middletown, OH 45042
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-727-3200
    (Toll-free) 1-86-MIAMI-MID
    Office of Admission: 513-727-3216
    Campus Status Line: 513-727-3477
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Hamilton
    Hamilton

    Hamilton Regional Campus

    A compact, friendly, commuter campus, Miami Hamilton offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Small class sizes, on-site child care, and flexible scheduling make Miami Hamilton attractive to students at all stages of life and career.

    Contact and emergency information for the Hamilton Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    1601 University Blvd.
    Hamilton, OH 45011
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-785-3000
    Office of Admission: 513-785-3111
    Campus Status Line: 513-785-3077
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Oxford
    Oxford

    Miami University, Oxford Ohio

    Nationally recognized as one of the most outstanding undergraduate institutions, Miami University is a public university located in Oxford, Ohio. With a student body of 16,000, Miami effectively combines a wide range of strong academic programs with faculty who love to teach and the personal attention ordinarily found only at much smaller institutions.

    Contact and emergency information for the Oxford Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    501 E. High St.
    Oxford, OH 45056

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-529-1809
    Office of Admission: 513-529-2531
    Vine Hotline: 513-529-6400
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency