Living, breathing man will remain dead in the eyes of Ohio law
By Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, CNN
October 9, 2013 — Updated 1556 GMT (2356 HKT)
- Donald Miller testified Monday that he disappeared in 1986 after losing his job
- He left behind his wife, kids and thousands of dollars in unpaid child support
- He was declared legally dead in 1994; he went to court seeking to overturn that ruling
- In Ohio, a ruling of legal death cannot be overturned after three years
(CNN) — An Ohio man who has been legally dead since 1994 will remain so in the eyes of the law after losing his complaint to overturn his death filing, according to authorities.
Donald Miller, 61, testified Monday that he disappeared in 1986 after losing his job, leaving behind a wife, two children and thousands of dollars of unpaid child support, according to James Hammer, the attorney for Miller’s ex-wife, Robin Miller. He was declared legally dead eight years later.
Donald Miller said he returned to Ohio “around 2005″ with no knowledge of his legal death, and that he had hoped to reestablish his Social Security number.
A legal statute in Ohio prevents changes to death rulings once three years have passed, Hammer told CNN, and Judge Allan Davis ruled accordingly in Hancock County Probate Court.
“In over 40 years, I’ve never come across a case like this,” the judge told CNN.
“In the end though, because of the statute, it was a pretty open-and-shut case.”
Hammer recounts that at the time of Donald Miller’s legal death in 1994, he owed Robin Miller around $25,000 in child support, a matter which could have been complicated had the judge ruled in Donald Miller’s favor on Monday. Following the 1994 ruling, Hammer said, Robin Miller began receiving Social Security death benefits to support her two children.
In over 40 years, I’ve never come across a case like this.
Judge Allan Davis, Hancock County Probate Court
“There could have been the possibility that my client would have to pay back what she received from Social Security,” Hammer said.
“We certainly did not want to open that door, so we’re satisfied with the outcome.”
Despite her relief at the court’s ruling, Hammer says his client has no ill will toward her ex-husband.
Donald Miller’s attorney was not immediately available for comment Wednesday. He still has 30 days to appeal the court’s ruling, according Judge Davis.
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