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Ohio Child Support Class Action Lawsuit Dismissed – Is Being Appealed
November 18, 2011 - In May of this year we reported a child support class action lawsuit filed in Ohio alleging the state had withheld from child support payers more than $175 million beyond what had been ordered to be paid.
The lawsuit further alleged the state knowingly and deliberately concealed from child support payers the fact that they are overpaying their obligations. The action was initially filed in the Ohio Court of Claims, a court the state of Ohio specifically established to hear citizen complaints against the state involving monetary damages.
Child Support Lawsuit Allegations
The class action status claim arises from lawsuit allegations indicating over 114,000 citizens have been over billed by the state for child support. The lawsuit indicates one motivation the state may have for acting in this manner lies in the financial incentives and reimbursements the state receives from the federal government for operating the child support collection program. Under the facts asserted in the lawsuit Ohio would have received in excess $25 million from the federal government in unwarranted incentive and reimbursement payments for its unlawful takings.
The suit further alleges the state has failed in its fiduciary obligations to both parties, child support payers and recipients, as a resulted of its deliberate overcharging of support obligations.
Ohio Child Support - State Responds or Doesn’t
As often happens in these kinds of actions, rather than filing a response to address the allegations in the lawsuit, the state chose instead to motion the court for dismissal of the action. In what boils down to an argument that the Court of Claims did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter, the state argued the plaintiff, Mr. Dunlop, and all other 114,000 affected individuals should take their complaints individually into the court and each seek a modification of their court orders.
At the risk of stating the obvious that seems rather like a legal profession windfall given that if each case were to be addressed at the low figure of $1,000 per case over $114 million in legal fees would be generated. Consider further the fact that if 50 of these cases were resolved per day around the state, then about 10,000 cases per year would be resolved. In other words, it would take over 11 years to resolve all the individual cases. If ever a case was begging for resolution as a class this is it.
There were several other arguments in the state’s motion to dismiss, however all amounted to various excuses as to why the state should not have to address the issue of why 114,000 have had their funds stolen.
Child Support Lawsuit Dismissed, Next Steps
Mr. Dunlop’s attorney’s filed an excellent response to the state motion for dismissal, thoroughly rebutting each state point and several others the state had not raised. On October 11, 2011 in a brief opinion the judge in this case ruled for the state and dismissed the action. We note the state never answered a single substantive point regarding the abuse of child support payers.
On October 27, 2011 Mr. Dunlop’s attorney’s filed notice of appeal. On November 8, 2011 the case file was transferred to the 10th district Court of Appeals.
In Mr. Dunlop’s case the state has deliberately concealed the overcharge of approximately $8,000 in child support. In a separate case filed in late September before the same court another individual has claimed over $82,000 in concealed child support overcharges.
Actions like those taken by state of Ohio result in the loss of confidence of citizens in their government. The overreach of government into the private sphere of family life cannot be over emphasized. Of far greater concern to most of these loving parents than the theft of their money, is the loss of the relationships they experienced with their children as a result of a heavy handed divorce and child custody system. Destroying kids relationships with one of their parents so state agencies and various associated industries can turn a buck (or billions of bucks) is one of the greatest crimes against humanity perpetrated over the past fifty years.