The Ohio House Judiciary and Ethics Committee took sponsor testimony March 5 on HB 170 which would shorten the time during which a suit could be brought relative to a written contract.

The sponsor, Rep. Mecklenborg, said the change from a 15- to a six-year statute of limitations on written contracts would bring Ohio in line with most other states. He said only Ohio and Kentucky continue to have the 15-year bar with 22 states having six-year limits and another 18 having three- to six-year limitations after a cause of action for a lawsuit can be filed.

The sponsor said Ohio’s 15-year statute was established in 1803 when Ohio achieved statehood. He said the two-century old law should be shortened in line with other states. Chairman Bubp, with tongue in cheek, asked if the sponsor had checked with Speaker Batchelder as to his feeling regarding the change as he might have been around when initially enacted.

Mr. Mecklenborg said the long statute of limitation period increases the cost of doing business in the state as business owners and operators must pay for document and data retention in order to defend a contract claim that could occur some 15 years out. And, he said employees who drafted or performed the contract could have retired or died making the claim difficult to defend.

He ticked off support for the change comes from the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice that includes the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Society of CPAs, Ohio State Medical Society, NFIB/Ohio, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and Ohio Hospital Association.