Law You Can Use: Consumer Information Column


Staff Reports



Ohio Tackles Opioid Epidemic

Opioid abuse in Ohio is bad and getting worse. Increases in the number of foster-care children in agency custody, the number of poisonings and overdose deaths, and the rising use of the opioid reversal drug naloxone all speak to this ongoing tragedy.

Q: How is Ohio combating the opioid epidemic?

A: Ohio is tackling the problem in a variety of ways that include tracking prescription pill purchases through a statewide database, advising doctors on proper dosage limits, initiating a youth drug prevention program, providing access to medication-assisted treatment and behavioral health treatment to participants in drug courts and other specialized dockets, and seeking solutions on a regional level.

Q: How are Ohio’s drug courts using their treatment-focused, holistic approach to help offenders?

A: The drug courts establish written clinical and legal criteria that identify which types of health conditions and offenses or charges exclude an offender or make an offender eligible for help. Judges order professional assessments to determine which of these offenders should participate in the drug court docket. The assessments identify those who have the greatest need for treatment and whose treatment is most likely to eliminate future criminal behavior. They also establish each participant’s treatment plan requirements. The judge oversees a treatment team that includes probation officers, community treatment providers and other relevant parties. The team monitors each participant’s compliance with the treatment plan and other court requirements. Treatment often involves medication, but medication alone can’t fully rehabilitate persons suffering from an opioid use disorder. A holistic approach includes “Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care,” such as counseling and other behavioral therapies that promote long-term recovery. Drug courts provide the monitoring, encouragement and accountability—including the potential for incarceration—needed to keep persistent, repeat offenders engaged in treatment.

Q: Is this approach working?

A: A preliminary report about the effectiveness of the first phase of a pilot program was released at the end of 2015 with promising results. After six months in the program, participants showed a significant decrease in heroin use and criminal justice involvement and a significant increase in stable housing situations. Also, twice as many were employed. The state is currently studying whether participants are benefiting from the intensive treatment they are getting through certified drug courts in the 22 counties that have received additional funding for medication-assisted treatment of opioid-addicted offenders.

Q: What must a court do to add a drug court docket to its services?

A: Ohio courts that operate specialized dockets such as drug courts must apply to the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Specialized Docket Section. The Supreme Court has adopted 12 standards to create a minimum level of uniform practices, but local courts are still allowed to innovate and tailor their specialized dockets so they can respond to local needs and resources. The standards spell out the certification procedure. They require courts to engage in a planning process for their specialized docket programs, use a non-adversarial approach, hold regular treatment team meetings, and conduct regular status review hearings for individuals placed in the programs. The Supreme Court does not decide which specialized dockets to certify, however. Rather, a 22-member Commission on Specialized Dockets—composed of judges and court personnel who operate specialized dockets around the state—applies the certification requirements and determines which programs will be certified.

Q: What is the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative?

A: In August 2016, the Supreme Court of Ohio hosted delegations from nine states, the federal government, and other criminal justice partners to engage on a regional level about ways to combat the opioid epidemic. During a meeting in Cincinnati, the partners discussed and created state and regional action plans to more effectively rehabilitate offenders who enter the criminal justice system because of an opioid use disorder. The nine states have pledged to make the region a blueprint for policy and practice for others to follow. The initiative is the first in the nation to bring together state judicial leaders, treatment providers and medical experts to explore regional solutions to a problem that knows no borders. The opening summit began a year-long program of regional policy planning and development across state criminal justice, public health, family support, and child protection systems. Meetings, strategy sessions, and opportunities to challenge the status quo will continue.

This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Specialized Dockets Section.

Veterans Service Commissions Assist Veterans and Their Dependents Across Ohio

Each of Ohio’s 88 counties has a veterans’ service office to help veterans understand what benefits are available to them and their dependents, and to help them apply for these benefits. Each veterans’ service office also has a Veterans Service Commission (VSC), whose members are responsible for overseeing the work of that office. While this article focuses on the work of the Stark County VSC, it provides an overview of the types of services available to veterans and their dependents throughout Ohio.

Q: What kinds of services does the Veterans Service Commission offer for veterans and their dependents?

A: The Stark County Veterans Service Commission (SCVSC), for example, serves 30,000 veterans, the 6th largest population of veterans in Ohio. The SCVSC provides three basic services for veterans and their dependents: financial assistance, service officer assistance and medical transportation. The SCVSC team includes five appointed commissioners representing various national services organizations, including the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, and Vietnam Veterans of America, as well as five accredited County Veterans Service officers, an accredited executive director and assistant director, two finance specialists, three managerial staff members and three support staff members.

Q: What financial assistance is available?

A: The SCVSC offers a needs-based program that provides short-term basic living needs for Stark County veterans, their spouses, dependent children and surviving spouses.

Q: How would I qualify for financial help?

A: You must have served in the armed forces on active military duty for purposes other than training and you must have been discharged under honorable conditions. You may also qualify if, while serving on “active duty orders for training” (such as basic training or schooling), you suffered a service-connected disability that is recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense.

Q: What kinds of financial assistance is provided?

A: The SCVSC may assist you with basic living expenses, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, food, personal hygiene costs and clothing.

Q: What is “service officer assistance”?

A: The county’s veteran service officers will help you file for federal and state benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the State of Ohio. They can also connect you with local agencies through the office’s partnerships.

Q: What types of federal benefits could veterans and their dependents receive?

A: Benefits include service-connected compensation for an injury or disability, a disability pension for a wartime veteran or a surviving spouse, healthcare, education for the veteran, children, spouse or surviving spouse, assistance through the Home Loan Guarantee program, and insurance, such as life or mortgage insurance, and burial and memorial benefits. The SCVSC can also assist with discharge upgrades, locate military records, and provide military awards or decorations.

Q: What type of state benefits are available?

A: State benefits include access to one of the two Ohio Veterans Homes facilities (one located in Georgetown and one in Sandusky), the Ohio War Bonus program, compensation from the Military Injury Relief Fund, free Ohio hunting and fishing licenses, qualification for benefits under the Homestead Exemption, information about and application assistance for the Ohio War Orphans Scholarship, the provision of high school diplomas, access to a variety of educational programs, and free license plates.

Q: What kind of medical transportation assistance does the SCVSC provide?

A: The SCVSC provides van transportation to the community-based Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Parma and contracts with the regional transit authority to provide transportation to Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center for medical appointments.

Q: I don’t live in Stark County. How can I find a Veterans Service Commission in my county?

A: You can find a listing of the Veterans Service Commissions for all of Ohio’s 88 counties at http://dvs.ohio.gov/HOME/County_Veterans_Service_Offices or by calling 877-OHIO-VET (877-644-6838).

This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by De Ann M. Covey, Assistant Director, Stark County Veterans Service Commission.

Telephone Marketing Scams: How to Avoid Falling Prey

You answer a telephone call. A marketer says her company can get you out of debt, save you from a problem detected with your Windows computer or extend your vehicle warranty. Or, a man says you have been selected to receive a discount on a great vacation, product or service.

Excited (or alarmed), you hand over your personal and financial information to remedy the problem or take advantage of an amazing opportunity. Later you wonder, “What did I just do?”

Telephone scams are a huge problem today. It is virtually impossible to recover your money after you have become a telephone scam victim, but you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of falling prey in the future.

Q: What is a telemarketing scam?

A: A telephone marketing (“telemarketing”) scam typically involves a caller who seeks to obtain personal information, money or access to financial information without a legal, legitimate purpose. The caller promises products without any intention of delivering them, or creates a situation and then charges money to resolve it, or obtains the money or information for other fraudulent purposes, including possible future identity theft.

Q: When I returned a call using my Caller ID, I reached a completely different person. Why?

A: Savvy scam artists may “spoof” your Caller ID using a “spoof card,” which tricks the Caller ID into showing a false reading. This technology then sends the false reading to your Caller ID. Some scammers even change the caller’s voice. If you attempt to call the number indicated on your Caller ID, and reach someone who has never heard of you, you may have been the victim of a Caller ID spoof.

Q: Why can’t I get my money back if I am a telemarketing scam victim?

A: It is virtually impossible to identify or locate a telemarketing scammer. In fact, many scammers operate from outside the country. You cannot press criminal charges, seek restitution or pursue a civil lawsuit if you cannot locate or identify the person who fraudulently took your money or personal financial information. Some states have established victim funds to assist telemarketing victims recover some of their financial losses, but Ohio does not yet have such a fund.

Q: What kinds of scams are currently operating?

A: Telemarketing scams offer everything from fake lotteries to fake jobs. Many scams have been around for several years. In one ongoing scam, a caller claims to be from Windows Tech Support, saying that a virus has been detected on your Windows device and patiently walking you through a process to correct the problem. Instead, the scammer secretly installs virus programs onto your computer, then offers to remove the virus for a fee.

In the “Sweetheart” and/or “Grandma” scam, a person calls, often late at night, pretending to be a loved one, a child or a grandchild. The person quickly states that he/she is in the hospital or in jail and needs money or information immediately. The scammer may transfer the call to a third person claiming to be a police officer or a hospital employee, who then demands personal or financial information to release or treat the fictional loved one.

Q: If I believe a scammer is contacting me by phone, what should I do?

A: Never provide any personal or financial information unless you can verify that the call is legitimate. Most reputable companies will not request such information over the phone. Hang up or ask to be contacted by regular mail. Research the caller online to learn if there have been complaints about the company. Call the telemarketer back using the telephone number shown on your Caller ID. Contact the Ohio Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission to find out if this is a known scam.

Q: What if I am a victim of a telemarketing scam?

A: Dispute the charge and report the scam. You can dispute charges made via credit (and sometimes debit), and your financial institution may be able to credit the charge back to your account. If you have provided your financial or banking information to the scammer, consider closing the associated account to prevent future fraud. You should also report the scam to the Ohio Attorney General’s office at: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/About-AG/Contact/Report-A-Scam, and the Federal Trade Commission at: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-1.

Q: Where can I learn more about telemarketing scams?

A: The Federal Trade Commission tracks many scams that are being reported here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts. Other websites can also indicate potential scams, such as www.RipoffReport.com.

This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by consumer protection advocate, Dayton attorney Mandy A. Jamison, of JAMISON LAW, LLC.

ABLE Act Accounts Help People with Disabilities Save for the Future

You may be familiar with Ohio’s “529 Plan” savings accounts that help families set aside money for future college costs.

The federal ABLE Act, signed into law in December 2014, provides a similar savings account opportunity for people with disabilities and their families. In Ohio, these accounts are known as “STABLE” accounts.

Q: What does the ABLE Act do?

A: Like the 529 Plan, the ABLE Act falls under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. The Act allows people with disabilities and their families to save money in a special savings account. Earnings on an ABLE account are not taxed, and account funds are generally not considered assets for the supplemental security income (SSI) program and Medicaid.

This is important for those with disabilities, who can lose SSI or Medicaid benefits if they have too much (more than $2,000) in resources.

Q: Who is eligible for an account?

A: To take advantage of the ABLE Act, you must have significant disabilities that began before age 26. (You do not need to be under age 26 to be eligible for an ABLE account, but the “age of onset” of your disabilities must have been before you were 26 years old.)

If you meet this age criteria and already receive SSI or SSDI benefits, you are automatically eligible. If you do not already receive SSI or SSDI benefits, you may still be eligible to open an ABLE account. To qualify in this case, you must meet the “age of onset” requirement as well as the Social Security Administration’s requirement that you have “significant functional limitations.” In addition, a licensed physician must provide a letter of certification that attests to your disabilities.

Q: How would ABLE Account savings affect my SSI or Medicaid benefits?

A: You can put as much as $100,000 in an ABLE account, and it will be exempted from your SSI $2,000 individual resource limit. If your ABLE account exceeds $100,000, any amount over $100,000 will count as a resource toward the $2,000 SSI limit. All amounts in an ABLE account are exempted from the Medicaid resource limit.

Q: Are there contribution limits?

A: If you are a qualified individual, you are allowed to have only one ABLE account. The total contribution to your account each year by all contributing individuals, including family and friends, is $14,000. That amount will be adjusted annually for inflation.

Each state has different rules for the total contribution limit that can be made to an ABLE account over time.

Q: I have a disability that qualifies me for an ABLE account. What happens if there’s money left in my account when I die?

A: Your ABLE account will have a payback provision. This means that, when you die, Medicaid will be paid back first for any services that were provided to you with funds remaining in the account.

Any remaining funds will be distributed after your death to a beneficiary you have chosen.

Q: What expenses can I pay with the money in my ABLE account?

A: Expenses you can pay for with ABLE account money must be related to living your life with a disability. These include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assisted technology, personal support services, health care expenses, financial management and administrative services.

Q: What should I consider before opening an ABLE account?

A: Before opening an ABLE account, remember that there are spending restrictions as well as a payback provision. Like most families and individuals, you may want to make an ABLE account part of a larger plan that includes a third-party special needs trust. You may also want to explore other ways to save.

For more information or to open a “STABLE” account in Ohio, visit www.stableaccount.com.

This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by attorney Logan K. Philipps of Resch and Root, LLC.

Real Estate Contracts: Be Careful When Using Email and Voicemail

Q: I thought a real estate contract couldn’t be enforced unless it was in writing, but a friend just told me I could make a contract through email or voicemail. Is that true?

A: Yes. It used to be true that real estate contracts could not be enforced unless the agreement was in writing, contained the essential terms of the deal, and was signed by the party against whom the contract was to be enforced. However, in 2000, Ohio enacted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA). Under the UETA (Chapter 1306 of the Ohio Revised Code), an electronic record can have the same legal effect as a written document. The UETA defines electronic records broadly as “information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.” An “electronic record” is any record that is “created, generated, sent, communicated, received or stored by electronic means.” Email and voicemail are electronic records.

Q: Does an electronic signature have the same force as a written signature?

A: Yes. According to the UETA, typing your name at the bottom of an email or saying your name as part of a voicemail can, in some cases, be considered a signature.

Q: What if I am asked to complete a real estate contract by email, but I’d rather have something in writing?

A: The UETA only applies to a transaction if both parties have agreed to conduct the transaction electronically. In fact, some businesses refuse to negotiate, or even discuss, deal terms by email. If you do negotiate by email, it’s a good idea to include a disclaimer statement in each email, warning that the message is not intended to be an offer, an acceptance, or otherwise contractually binding.

Q: What if I call the other party and leave a voice mail message with information about what should be included in the contract?

A: If you are negotiating a deal, you should never leave a voicemail message detailed enough to inadvertently create a contract. In short, you should never say anything in an email or a voicemail that you would not say in a signed contract.

This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by Columbus attorney Jack Levey of Plunkett Cooney.

Think Twice Before Making a Do-It-Yourself Lease

Q: I bought a commercial property that I plan to lease to a small business. I’d like to handle the leasing process myself rather than to pay for a lawyer. What should I know before using the standard lease form I found through the Internet?

A: Before trying to complete the lease arrangement yourself, you should know that not every lease form is the same and that a “standard” lease form will not cover all the possible scenarios and liabilities you may encounter. If something goes wrong down the road, you likely will have to spend much more on legal fees—and possibly on damages to your tenant—than the cost of a few upfront hours of legal help.

Q: What kind of problem might I run into that a standard lease wouldn’t cover?

A: Here are just a few of the potential problems that a do-it-yourself lease can create:

Form leases vary in quality. Even a good form may not be right for your circumstances, particularly if the term is not meant to start until a given condition occurs, such as the landlord or tenant completing improvements to the property. Every state’s law is different. Forms that may be suitable in other states might not work in Ohio. Will the lease adequately protect you if the tenant’s employee is injured on the job, and charges you with failing to keep the property in safe condition? Ohio has special requirements that the lease must meet to give you that protection.

Even with the right form, it’s easy to make an expensive mistake when you fill out the form. Something as simple as how you describe the rent can make a big difference if the square footage turns out to be more or less than the amount stated in the lease, or if the tenant stops paying rent. Suppose you plan to lease 1,000 square feet of space for 36 months at $12 per square foot per year. You might describe the rent as $12 per square foot per year, or as $36,000 for the term, or as $1,000 per month, or as $12,000 per year, or worse, as both $12,000 per year and $12 per square foot per year. Your choice can have important legal consequences if a dispute occurs.

Mistakes in the legal name of the landlord or tenant could turn what you thought was a three-year lease into a month-to-month lease. And knowing whether to have the lease notarized can mean the difference between having a lease and having an unenforceable piece of paper.

Q: My real estate broker said he’d help me work out the lease details, and he won’t charge me. Can’t he do what a lawyer would do?

A: No. As soon as your broker recommends a particular lease form or tries to explain the legal effect of a lease provision, that broker is practicing law without a license. Brokers who knows the limits of their expertise will tell you that free legal advice is worth about what you pay for it—or, in some cases, less.

This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by Columbus attorney Jack Levey of Plunkett Cooney.

DUI Tests May Be an Offer You Can’t Refuse

​The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued an opinion about whether search warrants are necessary for blood tests and breath tests in DUI cases (called OVI—“Operating a Vehicle while under the Influence”—in Ohio). In Birchfield v. North Dakota, the Court decided that breath tests can be given without first getting a warrant, but blood tests require a warrant. The Court’s opinion in Birchfield impacts Ohio OVI law.

Q: What are the facts of the case?

A: The Birchfield decision involves three separate cases. In the first case, the defendant was convicted of a crime for refusing to take a blood test. In the second case, the defendant was convicted of a crime for refusing to take a breath test. In the third case, the defendant consented to a blood test, but later claimed his consent was coerced because the officer threatened to charge him with a crime if he refused the test.

Q: Why might a search warrant be needed for a blood or breath test?

A: Blood tests and breath tests are considered “searches,” which are subject to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. For a search to be reasonable, there must be a search warrant or a recognized exception to the search warrant requirement. The exception analyzed by the Court in Birchfield is the exception for a search that is done as part of a lawful arrest.

Q: How does the Court determine if a search warrant is necessary?

A: The Court balances the need for blood and breath testing to promote legitimate governmental interests with the tests’ intrusion on an individual’s privacy.

Q: What legitimate interest does the government have in blood and breath testing?

A: The government has a legitimate interest in preserving highway safety by combating drunk driving. Blood and breath testing are used to combat drunk driving.

Q: How do an individual’s privacy interests differ for blood tests and breath tests?

A: The Birchfield opinion concludes that the intrusion on an individual’s privacy is significant for blood tests, but slight for breath tests. With blood tests, there is a physical intrusion under the skin, part of the person’s body is extracted, and the information obtained from the extracted blood includes private health information in addition to the blood alcohol content. With breath tests, there is little or no physical intrusion, no part of the person’s body is extracted, and the information obtained from the exhaled breath sample is limited to the breath alcohol content only.

Q: Why are search warrants required for blood tests but not breath tests?

A: For breath tests, the governmental interest outweighs the individual’s privacy interests, so the Court determined that the Fourth Amendment permits warrant-less breath tests. For blood tests, the governmental interest is reduced because breath testing is available without a warrant. The governmental interest is outweighed by the individual’s privacy interests, so the Court found that the Fourth Amendment does not permit warrant-less blood tests.

Q: How does the Birchfield decision impact Ohio OVI law?

A: In Ohio, it is a crime for a person to refuse a blood/breath/urine test if that person is arrested for OVI and has a prior OVI conviction within the last 20 years. The Birchfield decision bolsters this law as it applies to breath testing, but invalidates this law as it applies to blood testing without a warrant. In addition, this decision opens the door for the Ohio General Assembly to eliminate the prior conviction requirement and simply make it a crime for a person to refuse the breath test if arrested for OVI.

Q: Is a warrant required for urine testing?

A: Birchfield does not address warrant-less urine tests, so this issue will be litigated through Ohio’s courts. The prosecution will likely argue that urine tests do not require a warrant because urine is similar to breath: there is no physical intrusion, the sample is not a part of the body, and there is minimal inconvenience. The defense will argue that urine tests do require a warrant because urine is similar to blood: the information contained in urine is not limited to alcohol content, and the embarrassment of urinating with a witness (as required by Ohio law) is not slight. The Supreme Court of Ohio will ultimately decide if a urine test, like a breath test, is also “an offer you can’t refuse.”

This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Columbus attorney Shawn R. Dominy.

Disposing of Household Waste: What Does the Law Require?

​Most people don’t think about where their trash goes after it’s picked up. In fact, your household waste may be destined for several different disposal or recycling facilities, depending on the material. Homeowners should understand how to properly get rid of unwanted items to protect themselves and their families from exposure to harmful chemicals, to help protect the environment, and to comply with the law.

Q: How does Ohio regulate waste disposal and recycling?

A: Many Ohio laws and regulations apply to waste disposal and recycling. Regulatory programs are established by state agencies, such as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA). Also, local governments such as cities, counties, and townships may add their own waste handling requirements. Different legal requirements apply to different “waste streams,” such as household garbage (typically referred to as “municipal solid waste” or MSW), construction and demolition debris (C&DD), scrap tires, and electronic equipment. Specific legal requirements also apply to hazardous and infectious wastes.

Q: Where does my household trash go?

A: Household trash such as leftover food, packaging, paper, household items, clothing, toys and other unwanted items are considered “solid waste,” which can be sent to a solid waste landfill. Local governments (such as cities or counties) own and operate some solid waste landfills, while private companies run others. All landfills must be licensed to operate. The Ohio EPA and some local health departments have authority to issue landfill licenses. Because solid waste does not pose any special risk to public health, safety or the environment, it can be placed in a regular solid waste landfill.

Q: What wastes should I keep out of my regular garbage?

A: You should not mix used oil, fuel, batteries, chemical pesticides, paint and electronics with your regular household garbage. These wastes require special handling because they can release harmful elements to the environment, leading to water contamination and other negative impacts. However, you can safely dispose of and/or recycle these materials. For information about properly disposing of waste oil, batteries, pesticides, paint and electronics, visit http://www.epa.ohio.gov/Portals/41/p2/HouseholdHW.pdf to consult the Ohio EPA’s guidance document, Handling Household Hazardous Waste.

Q: How should I dispose of construction material from home renovation projects?

A: Take waste materials from home construction, repair and renovation projects to a specially licensed construction and demolition debris (C&DD) landfill. Like solid waste landfills, C&DD landfills must be licensed by the Ohio EPA or an authorized local health agency. C&DD generally includes brick, concrete, stone, glass, framing, doors, drywall, roofing materials and other structural components, as well as plumbing fixtures, heating equipment, electrical wiring and insulation. C&DD can also be recycled, thus saving space in landfills. For a list of recycling options, visit www.epa.ohio.gov/ocapp/p2/recyc/debris_add.aspx. Also, you can search for local companies that can take certain types of C&DD, such as drywall, shingles, concrete, cinder blocks, aluminum, carpet and wood.

Q: How should I dispose of fluorescent lamps and bulbs?

A: Fluorescent lamps contain small amounts of mercury and other heavy metals, so handle them carefully to prevent breakage. You can legally place used household fluorescent lamps/bulbs in your trash, but this is not recommended. A better option is to take them to your local household hazardous waste recycling event. Also, all Home Depot stores now collect compact fluorescent lamps for recycling.

Q: How should I dispose of yard waste?

A: You can put yard waste in the trash, but a better option is to recycle it. You can convert yard waste into a valuable product by composting. Your community may even have a composting program. No state laws or rules currently apply to how homeowners dispose of yard waste, but landfills may not accept yard waste that a homeowner has purposely separated from other trash. You must take such “source-separated” yard waste to a composting facility. Some cities, villages and townships provide curbside collection of yard waste and require residents to separate their yard waste from trash.

Q: How do I get rid of old railroad ties from around my house?

A: Reuse old railroad ties if possible. You can use them to make retaining walls, parking lot bumpers, etc. Also, Ohio EPA maintains a list of wood and pallet recyclers on its website. If you are unable to reuse or recycle your old railroad ties, dispose of them in a solid waste or C&DD landfill. Old railroad ties treated with creosote, a chemical preservative, can present a risk of harm to people and the environment. Appropriate protective measures should be taken when handling treated wood.

For additional information on disposal of household waste, or to find your local landfill, contact your local solid waste management district, or visit the Ohio EPA’s Division of Solid and Infectious Waste’s website at www.epa.ohio.gov/dsiwm/pages/general.aspx​.

This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by attorney Leslie G. Wolfe, a senior associate in the Cleveland office of Walter | Haverfield LLP and a member of the firm’s environmental law group.

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Staff Reports

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. It is not intended as legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. It is not intended as legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.