Ohio News Briefs

Ex-inmate wins $3M in suit after Ohio failed to file answer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former inmate has won $3 million in a lawsuit against an Ohio prison after the state failed to file an answer for several years.

John Henricks, 59, of Fulton County, had sued now-retired Dr. Ida Gonzalez and the Pickaway Correctional Institution, where she worked in June 2008, alleging Gonzalez failed to give him the proper pain medication after an emergency appendectomy.

A federal magistrate denied the state attorney general office’s request to dismiss the case in 2009. The state then had 30 days to file the answer rebutting the allegations, but didn’t until July 2013.

A Columbus judge recently ruled that Henricks’ allegations were sufficient to find that Gonzalez was liable. A jury awarded Henricks $1 million in actual damages and $2 million in punitive damages, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Because the state didn’t file in a timely manner, Henricks’ allegations were deemed to be true, said attorney Dan Mordarski, who represented Henricks along with attorney John Camillus starting in 2011.

It’s unknown why the state didn’t file an answer by the deadline.

“I don’t think they were taking it very seriously,” Camillus said.

A spokeswoman with the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said the DRC is reviewing the decision.

According to the suit, Gonzalez refused to give Henricks a pain medication after an Ohio State University physician prescribed it. Henricks said he suffered extreme pain until his release from prison in 2009. Mordarski said his client is permanently disabled.

Gonzalez, 67, testified she was worried the painkiller could harm Henricks’ heart.

College credit program costing Ohio school districts

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A statewide program in Ohio that offers free college credit to middle- and high-schoolers may save parents and students money, but taxpayers in school districts will be left with the tab.

The College Credit Plus program cost schools in the South-Western City School District in Columbus about $250,000 for the 2015-16 school year. The Hilliard district reached a final cost calculation of $185,000. Those districts are among many facing thousands of dollars in costs, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The newspaper reported that the amount per credit hour that a district ends up paying can depend on where the student takes classes, who teaches them, and the deals the district can cut with colleges.

Districts are able to negotiate with colleges on the price of tuition and textbooks.

While the state education department pays the cost rather than the districts, it deducts the amount from each district’s per-pupil state funding.

Westerville schools reported that they spent a little under $70,000 last year on the College Credit Plus program. Officials at the Dublin district said college textbooks cost about $25,000 last year.

These figures are numbers that some local district treasurers reported to The Dispatch. The education department won’t have last year’s final College Credit Plus numbers until late this month because districts are still confirming the data.

School groups have said the program— which allows students to accumulate up to 30 college credit hours —is too expensive, and are advocating for financially able parents to assume some of the cost.

According to Aaron Rausch, director of school funding for the education department, local school officials can set up their program in a way that lowers the cost.

“My sense in talking to (district) treasurers is that they have worked over the year to strike better agreements that were more fair and equitable,” he said.

Report: Ohio 4th in country in catalytic converter thefts

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau says Ohio ranks fourth in the nation in the number of catalytic converter thefts stolen from vehicles.

The report says thefts of the emission-control devices from vehicles totaled more than 1,400 in Ohio between 2008 and 2015. California led the way with more than 8,000 thefts, followed by Texas and Illinois.

Thefts nationwide were up about 23 percent last year from 2008.

A report issued last year found that Ohio had more insurance claims for thefts of copper and other kinds of metal from 2012 through 2014 than any other state.

Catalytic converters are attractive to thieves because they contain metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium that can have expensive recycling values.

Trump plans return visit to northwest Ohio on Wednesday

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump plans to return to northwest Ohio this week.

His campaign says he’s scheduled to attend a lunchtime rally Wednesday at Toledo’s Stranahan Theater.

It’s his second visit to the city since the businessman became the GOP nominee at the party’s July convention in Cleveland. Trump also had a rally in Toledo days after the convention ended.

Polls indicate the swing state of Ohio is up for grabs in November.

Surrogates for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton have been working the state over the weekend, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking Saturday to two college crowds in Akron and Kent. He urged young people turned off by their choices to vote even if they think “everybody’s horrible.”