Terry A. Donner


Ohio workers' compensation system has been in a state of emergency for the last two years as labor and business groups battled over a series of employee-oriented Ohio Supreme Court decisions. Labor groups hailed these decisions as the vehicle which would propel Ohio's workers' compensation law into the twentieth century. Conversely, business groups condemned the decisions asserting that they exposed Ohio employers to infinite liability and destroyed Ohio's industrial climate. S.B. 307 has changed the face of Ohio's workers' compensation law by revamping the definition of injury, establishing an intentional tort fund, and creating a new intoxication defense for Ohio employers. The focus of this Note is section 4123.54(B) which sets forth the skeleton of an intoxication defense for Ohio employers by barring from compensation those injuries which are proximately caused by the employee being intoxicated or under the influence of a non-prescription controlled substance. Due to the emergent nature of S.B. 307, the Ohio Legislature failed to define many of the legal standards set forth therein. After examining the historical development of the law of workers' compensation and the intoxication defenses of other jurisdictions, this Note will define the burden which befalls an Ohio employer who attempts to establish that his employee was intoxicated or under the influence of a nonprescription controlled substance when injured and that such conduct was the proximate cause of the injury. The Note will also explore the methods by which an Ohio employee can rebut his employer's intoxication defense.