Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Stutz v. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Van Wert

August 21, 2017

BARBARA STUTZ, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF JOB AND FAMILY SERVICES, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

         Appeal from Van Wert County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. CV 16-03-032

          William J. Wildenhaus for Appellant

          Rebecca L. Thomas for Appellee

          OPINION

          ZIMMERMAN, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Barbara Stutz ("Ms. Stutz"), appeals the January 31, 2017 judgment of the Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas affirming the Administrative Appeal Decision of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Specifically, the Court of Common Pleas found that Appellee, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (the "Agency"), correctly determined that: (1) there is no mechanism for rebutting a properly calculated value of a life estate calculated under Ohio Adm.Code 516:1-3-05.17(F); (2) that Ms. Stutz did not comply with administrative requirements for selling her life estate at its fair market value; and (3) that the Administrative Code section addressing life estates is reasonable and must be strictly followed. The trial court thereby ordered that the decision of the Administrative Appeal Officer be affirmed, which resulted in Ms. Stutz having a period of restricted Medicaid coverage.

         {¶2} Ms. Stutz appeals the trial court's decision, arguing that: (1) the trial court erred in finding that there was no mechanism under the Ohio Administrative Code to rebut the presumption of an improper transfer; (2) the trial court erred in finding that Ms. Stutz did not present evidence of a challenge to the value of her life estate; and (3) the trial court erred in finding that it was necessary for Ms. Stutz to attempt to sell her life estate to be eligible for Medicaid benefits. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's decision and overrule Ms. Stutz's assignments of error.

         Background

         {¶3} The facts in this case are generally undisputed by the parties. Ms. Stutz entered a nursing home facility on March 20, 2014, and was approved for Medicaid on July 1, 2014. At the time she entered the facility, Ms. Stutz owned a life estate in her real estate property and her sons owned the remainder interest. However, Ms. Stutz's life estate was established prior to Medicaid's five year "look back" period, and as a result, the value of the life estate was not considered in determining her Medicaid eligibility. Subsequently, the Agency determined Stutz's life estate interest was an asset that must be valued for Medicaid purposes.

         {¶4} Ms. Stutz had her life estate appraised at a value of $2, 000, and on November 20, 2014, sold it to her sons for $1, 800. However, the Agency determined that the correct life estate value was $24, 941, not $2, 000, and deemed the sale of it for $1, 800 was less than its fair market value. As a result, Ms. Stutz received a notice of a "Restricted Medicaid Coverage Period" ("RMCP") from Medicaid officials. The notice informed Ms. Stutz that her RMCP was to run from November, 2014 to June, 2015, based upon the improper transfer of her life estate (to her sons) for less than its fair market value.

         {¶5} Ms. Stutz appealed and requested an administrative hearing.

         {¶6} On January 14, 2016, an administrative hearing was held on Ms. Stutz's appeal. At the hearing the value of Stutz's real estate was determined to be $51, 170. Given that value, and the fact that Ms. Stutz was 77 years old at the time she entered the nursing home, the hearing officer determined the fair market value of the life estate, pursuant to Ohio Adm.Code 5160:1-3-05.17(F) was $24, 941. In her attempt to rebut this value, Ms. Stutz produced several appraisals indicating that her life estate had little or no value. However, in its Decision mailed 02/08/2016, the hearing officer found that Ms. Stutz's failed to follow the procedure outlined in Ohio Adm.Code 5160:1-3-07.2(D), which set forth the statutory process to rebut the presumption of an improper transfer. And, since Ms. Stutz did not properly rebut the presumption of an improper transfer under Ohio Adm.Code 5160:1-3-07.2(D), the Agency's decision was affirmed by the administrative hearing officer.

         {¶7} Ms. Stutz timely appealed the administrative decision to the Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas, presenting three assignments of error for review. Ultimately, the trial court found that the Agency properly calculated the fair market value of Ms. Stutz's life estate for Medicaid purposes; that Ms. Stutz did not provide evidence of her attempts to sell her life estate at the statutorily required fair market value; and that the administrative code was not unreasonable and must be strictly enforced. In its judgment entry filed on January 31, 2017, the trial court overruled Ms. Stutz's assignments of error and affirmed the decision of the Administrative Appeal Officer.

         {¶8} From this judgment entry Ms. Stutz appeals to this Court, asserting the following assignments of error:

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. I

         THE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE IS NO MECHANISM UNDER THE OHIO ADMINISTRATIVE CODE TO REBUT THE PRESUMPTION OF AN IMPROPER TRANSFER.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. II

         THE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE APPELLANT DID NOT PRESENT EVIDENCE OF A CHALLENGE TO THE VALUE OF HER LIFE ESTATE.

         ASSIGNMENT ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.