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The Ohio Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the case of a teen who killed himself after he was allegedly repeatedly bullied at Mentor High School.
Justices must now decide whether certain claims made by the estate of 17-year-old Eric Mohat can proceed in federal court.
U.S. District Judge Donald C. Nugent previously asked state justices to rule on whether a lawsuit filed by the teen’s parents against the school is void because Eric’s estate was not established until after the lawsuit filing deadline had passed.
Neither side disputes the estate was mistakenly opened in Cuyahoga County nearly three months after the suit was filed.
Mohat attorney Kenneth D. Myers argued the complaint is not barred by the two-year statute of limitations and that a separate probate attorney who filed the estate did not mean to misrepresent anything to the court.
“There’s room for those types of things to be corrected,” Myers said. “The error was corrected.”
Attorney Paul Flowers, who also represents Bill and Janis Mohat, told justices, “There’s no question mistakes were made in this case.”
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor questioned why the high court should allow the case to go forward with “mistake after mistake after mistake.”
The school district’s attorney, David Kane Smith, said the estate’s claims are time-barred and void.
The Mohats filed a lawsuit in 2009 claiming their son shot himself in the head on March 27, 2007, after months of persistent bullying in math class.
The Mohats claim teachers and other employees witnessed Eric being teased and hit but took no action.
School attorneys claim his parents’ own negligence contributed to the suicide.
Justices are not expected to rule on the question of law for several months.
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