OU Wins Judgment in Cold Dorm Case Filed By Student

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A judgment in the Ohio Court of Claims has gone against an Ohio University student who claimed she was made ill by her cold dorm room.

Paige Shoemaker of Grove City had sought reimbursement from OU of $962 in medical bills. Last week, a deputy clerk made an administrative determination against her claim, although she can appeal and ask for court review.

According to the administrative determination, Shoemaker had argued that her dormitory room in Wray House lacked sufficient heat for about two weeks last winter, causing her to develop bronchitis which required a trip to the emergency room, medication and several doctor visits.

How cold her room got was a matter in dispute. Shoemaker claimed that the temperature was between 35 and 45 degrees during that time, but the university asserted that room did not get below 55 degrees.

The university provided a space heater, arranged for a temporary move to another room and provided Shoemaker with a $100 goodwill credit. Shoemaker countered that she was only offered a space heater after she became ill and after several requests, and the temporary room was only slightly warmer.

The university denied liability based on the contention that the temperature in Shoemaker's room was not the cause of her infection, and that it is "common knowledge that cold weather/cold air does not cause an individual to catch a viral or bacterial upper respiratory infection."

Shoemaker contended that cold temperatures increased the chances of a bronchitis attack. Deputy Clerk Daniel Borchert found that Shoemaker failed to prove her illness was caused by OU's actions or inaction, and rendered a judgment in favor of the university.