Ohio Files to Appeal $860M Workers Comp Ruling

The state of Ohio is looking to appeal a court decision that would require the state workers compensation fund to reimburse employers $860 million in alleged premium overcharges from 2001 to 2007.

The state filed an appeal on April 16. It says the ruling of Judge Richard J. McMonagle of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on March 20 was wrong as a matter of law.

According to court documents, the state outlines nine reasons the decision should be reversed. Of them, the state says the court erred in calculating damages due the plaintiffs under an “equitable restitution” formula the state alleges is inappropriate.

The case is a class-action lawsuit that has been in the courts since 2007. The core of the dispute is discounted premiums the Bureau of Workers Compensation gave companies that joined group insurance plans.

The cost of the discounts was passed along to companies not participating in or kicked out of the groups. McMonagle first ruled the scheme unfair last December, but didn’t issue a final ruling until March.

Lawyers for plaintiffs argue the state should just settle the case.

“Now is the time for the BWC to do the right thing and immediately reimburse these businesses," says James DeRoche, a partner at Seaman Garson L.L.C., Cleveland, and a principal lawyer for the employers in the class-action lawsuit. "If the BWC is truly business friendly it will not further delay payment so tens of thousands of small businesses can reinvest those dollars into creating and protecting Ohio jobs.”

But in Tuesday’s filing, the state says the possibility of a settlement has been explored but it and the class are “too far apart on a settlement to justify the scheduling of a prehearing conference.”

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