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In re Sullivan

Court of Claims of Ohio

November 3, 2016

IN RE: JAMES SULLIVAN JAMES SULLIVAN Applicant

          Sent to S.C. Reporter 5/23/17

          DECISION OF THE MAGISTRATE

          Daniel R. Borchert, Magistrate

          {¶1} On October 13, 2015, applicant, James Sullivan, filed a compensation application as the result of being assaulted on September 17, 2015. On March 10, 2016, the Attorney General issued a finding of fact and decision denying applicant's claim for an award of reparations since applicant's claim for medical expenses, mileage and work loss were paid by other collateral sources. Applicant's claims for forfeited G.I. Bill and tuition benefits were also denied since they did not qualify as an allowable expense pursuant to R.C. 2743.51(E).

         {¶2} On April 1, 2016, applicant submitted a request for reconsideration. On June 3, 2016, the Attorney General rendered a Final Decision finding no reason to modify the initial decision.

         {¶3} On June 21, 2016, applicant filed a notice of appeal from the June 3, 2016 Final Decision of the Attorney General. Hence, a hearing was held before this magistrate on September 7, 2016 at 11:00 a.m.

         {¶4} Applicant, James Sullivan appeared with his attorney, Mark Poole, while the state of Ohio was represented by Assistant Attorney General Megan Hanke.

         {¶5} Initially, applicant stated on September 17, 2015, James Sullivan was stabbed. At the time of the stabbing, Mr. Sullivan was enrolled at Central Ohio Technical College ("COTC"). Mr. Sullivan as a veteran was eligible for the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill. The bill paid for tuition and provided a monthly housing allowance stipend. The stipend allowed a veteran to attend college while not having to secure a full time job. Due to the injuries he sustained from the stabbing, he was unable to attend school and had to withdraw. Due to his withdrawal he was forced to lose those months of G.I. Bill eligibility for the payment of tuition expenses. However, applicant conceded that this court has not granted reimbursement of tuition expense in the past.

         {¶6} However, applicant asserted the loss of the stipend, was the equivalent of work loss, since the stipend allowed a veteran to attend school and still receive income from the stipend. Due to his injuries he lost the stipend for the months of November and December, 2015. Accordingly, this amount should be reimbursed as work loss.

         {¶7} Initially, the Attorney General stated that none of their previous filing addressed the fact that Mr. Sullivan was a victim of criminally injurious conduct as defined by R.C. 2743.51(C)(1), which he clearly was. The Attorney General stated that tuition is generally not considered an allowable expense and accordingly, that portion of the Attorney General's decision should be affirmed.

         {¶8} Applicant called James Sullivan to testify. Mr. Sullivan related at the time of the assault he was attending COTC on a full time basis. Tuition was being paid through the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill.

         {¶9} Mr. Sullivan was handed Applicant's Exhibit 1, a copy of the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill. The document revealed that maximum amount of educational/tuition benefits is thirty-six months. The Post 9-11 G.I. Bill had already paid for the semester of school applicant was attending at the time of his injury. Mr. Sullivan read from the document indicating the following benefits could be received: Tuition and fee payments, monthly housing allowance, books and supplies stipend. The monthly housing allowance is calculated based upon its location and the E-5 rank. The housing allowance is only provided when he is attending school. Mr. Sullivan testified that when he withdrew from school due to his injuries, he no longer received the housing allowance. Mr. Sullivan testified he relied on the allowance as his income.

         {¶10} Following the stabbing on September 17, 2015, Mr. Sullivan never returned to class for the fall semester, based on his doctor's advice. Mr. Sullivan was presented with Applicant's Exhibit 2, a letter authored by Misty Amacher, VA Certifying Official at COTC. Mr. Sullivan read the following into the record:

To Whom It May Concern,

This letter is in regards to James Sullivan, xxx-xx-8735. James began autumn semester at Central Ohio Technical College on 8/26/15 but due to a horrible event in September, he was not able to keep up with his coursework and now has a medical excuse that he will not be able to return to school until January. James normally receives VA Education Benefits each month for full time enrollment. The full time payment is $1247 per month and he will be missing 3 months now due to this unfortunate event.

Regards,

Misty Amacher

VA Certifying Official

         {¶11} Mr. Sullivan was shown Applicant's Exhibit 3, a payment history form. Mr. Sullivan related this was a computer screen shot evidencing payments received through the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill. He stated he produced this document. The document is a history of payments he received from July 1, 2015 through August 1, 2016. His attention was directed to July 1, 2015, a payment of $1, 227.00 was received. Mr. Sullivan clarified he received $1, 227.00 in a stipend per month rather than $1, 247.00 which was indicated in the letter from Ms. Amacher. Next, his attention was directed to the payment received on October 1, 2015, in the amount of ...


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