Civil Litigation Clinic Students Earn Several Spring Victories

Posted 2016-08-03 2:13pm

Students from the Civil Litigation Clinic at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law strived for the school’s motto – “Learn Law. Live Justice.” – by earning several successful results during an especially busy Spring 2016 semester.

Unemployment Compensation: Professor Ken Kowalski supervised several teams of students who obtained Unemployment Compensation payments for clients, in most cases following an initial denial by the Ohio Department of Jobs & Family Services. In one noteworthy case, a client arrived at the Clinic over a month past her appeal deadline, presenting a particularly challenging set of facts.  Students Sarah Mancuso and Delante Thomas set up to research the issues and solicit both the medical and factual evidence required to assist the client. After a successful Request for Review and a new hearing, the client’s appeal was held in a timely manner and she was awarded unemployment compensation benefits.

Consumer Law/Debt Collection: Professor Doron Kalir supervised a team of students – which included Jim Lanigan, Ian Fijakcovich, Jordan Norris, and Stacy Jacovetti – in representing a Cleveland State University undergraduate student who had been sued by a regional bank for an alleged unpaid debt. A family member co-signed the loan agreement, further complicating the matters, and at one point the bank threatened to foreclose on her home. The students researched a host of State and Federal consumer and debt-collection laws, and following an exhaustive discovery process, which included several pre-trial motions and depositions, the parties agreed to mediate the case. The settlement reached was extremely favorable for the client, and the threat of foreclosure was removed.

Cause Lawyering: Professors Joseph Mead and Kalir supervised students Kathryn Weber and Emily Mikes in filing a suit in Federal Court to declare Akron’s Panhandling Ordinance unconstitutional. The Complaint was so persuasive that the Akron City Council voted unanimously to repeal the law without putting up any fight in Court (although they did hire outside counsel). The suit, filed in cooperation with the ACLU of Ohio, also allowed for monetary damages for some of the Ordinance’s victims, as well as Attorney Fees for the ACLU.

Immigration Appeals:  Kalir supervised students Henry Morchak and Ed Kelley in representing a client before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in Washington, D.C. The client, a permanent legal resident for nearly 40 years in this Country, was convicted by a California State Court of fraud, and then ordered to be deported by the Department of Justice to a South American country, where – as he stated in court – “they would write my death warrant.” The Immigration Court Judge found no grounds for deportation, and the Department of Homeland Security appealed the decision to the BIA. The students had to research, first, California criminal law, and then try to apply it to the opaque provisions of the Immigration and Nationalization Act, a complex practice known today as “crimigration.” After much deliberation, the team filed its brief and – several weeks later – was informed that the BIA affirmed the decision, finding no grounds for deportation.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Throughout the year, the Civil Litigation Clinic worked closely with Cleveland’s Better Business Bureau (BBB). Clinic students assisted in resolving disputes referred to the BBB. In particular, the students received complaints from consumers, sought responses from the businesses involved, conducted factual research, and then attempted to reconcile differences. In some of the cases, students attended formal mediation sessions, and experienced first-hand the power of Alternative Dispute Resolution.


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