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Dennis M. O’Toole

Dennis M. O'Toole


Mr. O’Toole is a senior partner of the Firm and has been a trial lawyer for nearly 50 years. He has handled a wide variety of civil cases as part of a multi-state practice based in Northern Ohio. Dennis’s practice includes eminent domain litigation representing landowners as well as public sector agencies. He has obtained the two highest jury awards in eminent domain cases in the history of Lorain County representing private landowners. Dennis serves as special counsel to many public sector clients, including Lorain County, City of Westlake, City of Avon, City of Oberlin, City of Wadsworth and many townships and other political subdivisions throughout Ohio. He is general counsel for the Lorain County Metropolitan Park District and the Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority, both for whom he has been general counsel his entire career. Dennis’s practice also includes serious personal injury and wrongful death cases.


Special Assignments and Awards

  • The Order of Barristers for high achievement in appellate advocacy
  • Lorain County Bar Association Outstanding Service/Ethics and Grievance Committee Chair (8 terms)
  • The Lorain County Metropolitan Park District, Service Award for Legal Services
  • Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority, Outstanding Legal Services Award

Recent Cases and Decisions

  • Ross County v. Chillicothe
  • Village of Grafton v. Rural Lorain County Water Authority (Aug. 23, 2005), 419 F.3d 562
  • Grobe v. Ohio Turnpike Commission, Lorain County Common Pleas Court, Case no. 04CV139723 (2006)
  • Brown County Rural Water Association v. Village of Georgetown, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Case No. 1:04CV017
  • The City of East Liverpool v. Buckeye Water District, et al., Columbiana County Common Pleas Court, Case No. 05CV502
  • Steubenville v. Jefferson County Water and Sewer District, Jefferson County Common Pleas Court, Case No. 02CV370
  • Steubenville v. Village of Wintersville, Jefferson County Common Pleas Court, Case No. 04CV00178
  • City of Wadsworth v. Yannerilla, et al., 9th Appellate District, Case No. 06CA0019


  • 1926(b) Litigation and Predatory Tactics of Municipalities and Counties (Annual Convention Ohio Rural Water Association)
  • “Legal Liability in the Workplace” national symposium Minneapolis, Minnesota (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Region Six); New Orleans (HHS, National Convention); and, Las Vegas, Nevada (National Health and Fitness Association Convention)
  • Lecture: numerous in-service seminars for management on the subject of “Preparing for Litigation before Litigation Starts”
  • Lecture: “The Art and Skill of Cross-examination” numerous seminars
  • Seminar Speaker: Ohio Rural Water Association Annual Convention 2001 – 2007
  • Seminar Speaker/Panel Member: Kansas Rural Water Association Annual Convention, Wichita, Kansas, 2006: 1926(b) litigation
  • Seminar Speaker/Panel Member: National Rural Water Association National Convention, Dallas, Texas, 2006: 1926(b) litigation
  • Seminar Speaker: National Rural Water Association National Convention, Philadelphia, Pa. 2007: 1926(b) litigation, cases and strategies
  • Co-author of the nationally published “AACCA Cheerleading Safety Manual” (UCA Publications, 1997) on the subject of tort liability and exposure, used and endorsed by the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches & Advisors
  • Author, Summary Judgment in Ohio, Ohio Bar Association Seminar Series

Dennis resides in Vermilion, Ohio and maintains an active role as a lector and Eucharistic minister with his church and community hospital. He is chairman of the board of Kendal Northern Ohio, the parent company of Kendal at Oberlin, a continuing care retirement community and Kendal at Home, which provides at-home services to seniors.


Dennis is general counsel for a number of regional rural water and sewer districts, including Rural Lorain County Water Authority, Northern Ohio Rural Water, Lorain County Rural Wastewater District, and Jefferson County Water and Sewer District. The Firm also serves as general counsel for the Ohio Rural Water Association and works with many rural water associations and their general counsel throughout the United States. Dennis is recognized as a national authority on 1926(b) litigation and frequently lectures on the subject throughout the United States.

He is a frequent speaker and presenter on state and national levels and author and co-author of published works on legal liability and trial practice. Dennis is also chairman of the litigation section of Dooley Gembala. He served eight terms as chairman of the Legal Ethics and Grievance Committee for the Lorain County Bar Association.

Education/Professional Degrees

Regis College, Denver, Colorado, A.B. 1970; Capital University Law School, Columbus, Ohio, Juris Doctor, 1974; admitted into practice in Ohio, 1974; admitted: U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio; U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio; U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee; U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York; Ohio Supreme Court

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