AN Ohio man who has been legally dead since 1994 will remain so in the eyes of the law after losing his complaint to overturn his death filing.
Donald Miller (61) disappeared in 1986 after losing his job, leaving behind a wife, two children and thousands of dollars of unpaid child support, according to lawyers for Miller's ex-wife, Robin.
He was declared legally dead eight years later.
Mr Miller said he returned to Ohio with no knowledge of his legal death, and that he had hoped to re-establish his Social Security number.
A legal statute in Ohio prevents changes to death rulings once three years have passed and a judge ruled accordingly.
"In over 40 years, I've never come across a case like this," said the judge.
"We've got the obvious here. A man sitting in the courtroom, he appears to be in good health.
"In the end though, because of the statute, it was a pretty open-and-shut case.
"I don't know where that leaves you," he told Mr Miller, "but you're still deceased as far as the law is concerned."
It is claimed that at the time of Mr Miller's legal death, he owed his wife $25,000 in child support.
After the 1994 ruling, Mrs Miller began receiving Social Security death benefits to support her two children.
"There could have been the possibility that my client would have to pay back what she received from Social Security," the woman's legal team said.
"We certainly did not want to open that door."