A divorced couple demands more than $675,000 in damages from county officials in a lawsuit, alleging mismanagement of their child support payments and denial of child support services caused them various "severe injuries and damages."
Dawn Guba, of 1915 S. Bayview, Marblehead and Shawn Ward, 1553 Greenwich Milan Townline Road, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. It was filed in the United States District Court Northern District of Ohio, Western Division.
The defendants are Huron County, Huron County Department of Job and Family Services (HCDJFS), Huron County Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) and Jill Nolan, director of HCDJFS.
The plaintiffs' attorneys, Amanda A. Krzystan and Erin N. Cain, demand in "excess of $75,000" on each of nine counts brought against the defendants.
At one point, "without notice, all child support payments stopped as of 2009, without a penny more ever paid to Guba, while Ward was still paying into Huron County and Huron CSEA accounts," the suit claims,
Dawn Guba and Shawn Ward were married in Norwalk on July 1, 1996. After six years of marriage, Guba and Ward filed for divorce in Ingham County, Mich. in 2002. At the time, they entered into child support orders with the Ingham County Circuit Court on Jan. 21, 2003. Three years later, Guba moved to Ottawa County in Ohio.
The former couple tried to obtain child support services from HCDJFS and HURON CSEA "to register the foreign child support order."
Guba and Ward "sought the assistance of Huron County and Huron CSEA to transfer the Ingham County, Mich. Child Support Order to Huron County and Huron CSEA."
On May 2, 2006, Huron County Common Pleas Court ordered the child support arrangement to be transferred from Ingham County to Huron County. From that day until Sept. 5, 2006, "the parties were receiving the services provided by Huron County and Huron CSEA without issue."
However, the lawsuit alleges that "apparently, and without the knowledge of either Guba or Ward, the May 2, 2006 order entered by Huron County Common Pleas Court was incorrectly filed and thereby unenforceable."
The lawsuit goes on to say that "in an effort to correct the misfiled May 2, 2006 order," HCDJFS legal advisor Heather Carman "filed a motion to vacate the child support order in place between the parties on Nov. 18, 2008.
"Interestingly, Carman then filed another motion on Nov. 19, 2008 stating that, while the foreign child support orders from Ingham County were permanently transferred to Huron County, the modification of same was overlooked, needing to now be addressed by the court, more than two years after the initial filing of the foreign support order which was previously accepted by Huron County. Neither party was made aware of the filing of these motions, nor was notice of any hearing relative to the child support order forwarded to Guba and/or Ward."
On Dec. 1, 2008, "defendant Carman filed a third motion with the Huron County Common Pleas Court without ever giving notice to either Guba and/or Ward, requesting to modify and vacate the registered foreign support order."
The lawsuit accuses Carman of certifying that verified statements by Guba were attached for the court's review. However, "Guba never once signed a verification statement agreeing to modification and/or review of the current child support orders.
"More than six months after Carman filed her request to modify and vacate the registered foreign support order, the court denied same on May 7, 2009 for lack of prosecution."
On that same day, the court denied Carman's motion to modify the registered foreign support order, "stating Huron County, Huron County CSEA, Nolan and Carman had never entered such an order, therefore no order existed for modification."
The lawsuit contents that Carman never provided the court with information about Ward and Guba's income, the availability and accessibility of private health care coverage "or any other information that would enable the court to calculate a fair and reasonable child support amount by the parties."
The defendants' "lack of communication with both Guba and Ward relative to their back door actions to correct their blatant mistakes as it relates to Guba and Ward's child support orders led to the denial of the May 7, 2009 motion to modify," the lawsuit alleges. "While (the defendants) were attempting to correct their dishonest practices without Guba or Ward's knowledge, Guba and Ward continuously called Carman, Nolan, Huron County, HCDJFS, Huron CSEA and Stacey Radar on numerous occasions to inquire as to the lack of funds being forwarded to Guba in accordance with the child support order."
Specifically, the plaintiffs tried to call the defendants "on at least 30 separate occasions, all the while being told that there was nothing that could be done for either Guba or Ward. Incredulously, on one occasion, Carman advised Guba that the county was unwilling to help either Guba or Ward due to the county's 'dislike' for the parties."
"Our instructions (from legal counsel) are to make no comments because of litigation," Huron County Commissioner Gary Bauer said. He referred questions to HCDJFS.
HCDJFS director Jill Nolan said she's been advised by the department's attorney not to speak about the case.
"We are confident in our dictation and we have payment records available," she said, adding they've been sent to the former couple's attorney.
Nolan said she received a copy of the lawsuit on March 25 via certified mail and the attorneys "will be in conversations" about the case.
On each of the counts, the lawsuit states that "as a direct and proximate result of the defendants' actions, Guba and Ward have suffered severe injuries and damages, including, but not limited to mental anguish, denial of social pleasures and enjoyment, embarrassment, humiliation and mortification, aggravation of current financial obligations, punitive damages and any and all injuries or damages learned throughout the course of discovery."