July 24, 2014

Elyria
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Police officer’s widow refiles suit against city of Elyria

ELYRIA — The widow of an Elyria police officer killed in a 2004 motorcycle crash has refiled a lawsuit against Elyria and the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation that she dropped a year ago.

The lawsuits — both the one dropped last year and the one refiled Tuesday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court — deal with a dispute over whether Officer Bradley Scott’s widow, Kimberly Scott-Ruffing, and the couple’s children were entitled to receive worker’s compensation for his death.

Scott had completed his shift, but was running errands for a police union steak fry on Aug. 27, 2004, when his 2001 Honda 929R motorcycle hit a car driven by Shawn Stephens, who had pulled out in front of the motorcycle.

Scott was thrown from the bike and died about 40 minutes later at EMH Medical Center in Elyria. Stephens spent a year in jail, apologized and didn’t fight a wrongful death lawsuit filed against him by Scott’s family.

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation determined that Scott was working at the time of his death, even if he wasn’t officially on duty, because he was taking care of police union business.

The city, however, has appealed the BWC’s decision both administratively and in the court system.

Elyria Law Director Terry “Pete” Shilling said that while the city is sympathetic, Scott wasn’t on duty and his family isn’t entitled to worker’s compensation benefits that will cost the city more than $250,000 to meet its deductible and other expenses.

“It’s purely a matter of legality,” Shilling said.

Scott-Ruffing received $34,424 worth of benefits before she remarried and became ineligible for more benefits. The couple’s children were to receive $331 per week until their 18th birthdays, or if they attend college, until they graduate, according to BWC records.

The lawsuit was dropped last year shortly before it was to go to trial, although Scott-Ruffing retained the right to refile it within a year.

Her attorney, David Briggs, did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.