In 1986, an Ohio man named Donald Miller, married with two children, disappeared without a trace. In 1994 his wife petitioned to declare him legally dead. An Ohio court declared him legally dead.
Despite being legally dead, Mr. Miller wasn't factually dead; he was quite alive. He reappeared in 2005, not knowing that he was legally dead, and tried to establish that he was in fact alive.
An Ohio court, sympathetic to Mr. Miller's plight, ruled last week that Mr. Miller was still dead, despite his personal appearance in the courtroom to argue that he was still among the living. The judge, Allan Davis, ruled that the statute of limitations to challenge a declaration of legal death in Ohio is three years, meaning that because Mr. Miller didn't show up by 2008 to argue that he was still living, he was incontrovertibly and unappealably dead, at least in Ohio.
Why "at least in Ohio," you may ask? It's because the federal government hasn't passed a Defense of Death Act. Until Congress passes a Defense of Death Act, the definition of death is left up to the states, and if Ohio chooses to define Mr. Miller as being dead, he can't insist that Ohio renumber him among the living.
Just because Mr. Miller is dead in Ohio doesn't mean he is dead everywhere. He might move to Indiana or Kentucky, or some state that believes in the Right to Life, and if his new state determines him to be living, he will be among the living, at least while he is within that state. If he has enemies remaining in Ohio he'd best stay out of the Buckeye State, for they might be able to kill him and have a perfect defense to the case: how can they kill a man in 2013 who died in 1994?
[Thanks to WTAE.com for reporting in the possible existence of Mr. Miller.]