Thousands of Ohio companies could lay claim to more than $ 800 million in restitution from the state Bureau of Worker's Compensation. ideastream's Bill Rice reports.
In a class action lawsuit argued last summer, plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed hundreds of thousands of small businesses were unfairly excluded from the bureau’s group rating. Attorney Stuart Garson of Seaman Garson LLC says their premiums were grossly inflated, while those companies included in the group were given generous discounts. And, he says, companies were expelled from the group just for filing a routine claim.
Garson: “Whether your employee was at a red light and got rear ended, or whether somebody slipped and fell in your store, all the sudden you would find yourself receiving a letter from your group administrator and it would say gee, we’re sorry, but you can’t be in group anymore and you would literally be kicked out of group. The worst of it was the loss didn’t stay with the group. You took the loss with you as you were exiled into Siberia, with all the weight and burden of the cost of the claim.”
Garson says many of those companies either went bankrupt or stopped paying their premiums.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Richard McMonagle ruled in December in favor of the plaintiffs, but ordered their attorneys to reduce the original $1.3 billion restitution amount. McMonagle will rule on the revised amount - $860 million - in March.
The bureau has said that its actions were lawful. A spokesperson said after the December ruling that it would likely appeal.
Additional Audio below: ideastream's Brian Bull interviews Stuart Garson, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.