Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
D. Weiner & Associates Co., L.P.A, Paul K. Rode, Michael
S. Berkowitz, and Stacie Hackel Snow, for appellee.
Ward, L.L.P., Patrick F. Haggerty, and Justin W. Younker, for
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, J.
1} This appeal is before the court on the
accelerated docket pursuant to App.R. 11.1 and Loc.App.R.
11.1. The purpose of an accelerated appeal is to allow this
court to render a brief and conclusory opinion. State v.
Priest, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 100614, 2014-Ohio-1735,
2} Defendant-appellant, Thomas Simpson
("Simpson"), appeals from the trial court's
judgment that granted the motion for summary judgment of
plaintiff-appellee, Cleveland State University
("CSU"), and denied Simpson's motion for
summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and
remand with instructions that the trial court enter judgment
in favor of Simpson.
3} Simpson was a full-time student at CSU during
spring semester 2010. He received F's in three classes,
and withdrew from a fourth class.
4} Simpson received federal subsidized and
unsubsidized Stafford loans and a federal Pell grant to pay
for his courses, as authorized by Title IV of the Higher
Education Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C. 1070 et seq. CSU's
policy regarding returning "unearned" Title IV
federal financial aid was set forth in a document published
by its Financial Aid Office entitled "Return of Title IV
Funds Policy (RTIV) Official/Unofficial Withdrawals"
("RTIV Policy" or "Policy"). The Policy
If you are receiving federal financial aid, and completely
withdraw (all W grades) or receive all non-passing grades (F,
I, W, X, UD, or UF) during a semester, CSU will return all
"unearned" Title IV aid under federal mandate.
In order to receive 100% of federal financial aid you must
receive at least one passing grade, and/or attend 60% of one
academic course throughout the semester. If you failed to
earn a passing grade, but were in attendance at an
academically-related activity through 60% of the period, then
the Financial Aid Office will verify your last date of
attendance with your course instructors(s).
5} In July 2010, having determined that Simpson had
unofficially withdrawn from the university, CSU returned his
unearned financial aid funds to its federally backed lender.
In May 2017, seven years after Simpson's unofficial
withdrawal from the university, CSU filed a complaint for
unjust enrichment against Simpson seeking monies allegedly
due from him as a result of his returned financial aid.
Simpson, pro se, answered CSU's complaint, denying that
he owed CSU any money.
6} CSU then filed a motion for summary judgment in
which it asserted that although Simpson had withdrawn from
one class during the spring 2010 semester, he had received
failing grades in the other three classes, thereby rendering
him ineligible to retain his full financial aid awards and
necessitating the return by CSU of a portion of those funds
to CSU's federally backed lender, as required by Title IV
and U.S. Department of Education Guidelines. CSU asserted
that it was seeking repayment only for the courses in which
Simpson remained enrolled but that were not covered as a
result of his returned financial aid.
7} CSU attached to its motion various documents that
it asserted demonstrated Simpson's debt, as well as a
copy of CSU's RTIV Policy. None of these documents were
authenticated as required by Civ.R. 56(C). CSU also attached
to its motion the affidavit of Robert Yono, an external
collections support coordinator with the Ohio Attorney
General's Office, Collection Enforcement Section, in
which Yono averred that Simpson owed CSU $3, 820.48, with
interest and collection costs continuing to accrue. Yono
identified the current certified amount due as $2, 363.50;