Today, someone wishing to sue a business in Ohio for violating the terms of a written contract has 15 years from the alleged breach to do so. This long time period, or statute of limitations, makes Ohio uncompetitive among the states with only Kentucky having a comparable statute of limitations. Two bills are currently pending in the legislature that will reduce Ohio’s extended statute of limitations.
Lawsuits are decided more fairly and efficiently the more quickly they are tried. The ridiculously long 15-year statute of limitations puts Ohio businesses at a great disadvantage if they are sued. Reducing it will enable an employer to defend a lawsuit more effectively, since the involved personnel will have fresher memories and company records will be more easily accessible. It also means businesses will no longer be burdened with keeping all relevant records of written contracts going back as far as 15 years.
Enacted in 1803, Ohio’s current 15-year statute of limitations for written contracts is a byproduct of an era when communications took days or even weeks for a party to give notice of a breach of contract. Given today’s technological advances, Ohio’s antiquated law for written contracts is overdue for modernization. In fact, Ohio already has a six year statute of limitations for oral contracts. Changing the law for written contracts will standardize these two statutes and also bring Ohio in line with the other states.
House Bill 170 passed the House by an overwhelming margin and will reduce the current statute of limitations to six years. Senate Bill 224, which unanimously passed the Senate this week, will reduce it to eight years.