More than 270,000 Ohio companies will receive restitution after being forced to pay excessive workers' compensation premiums following the conclusion of a 2007 class-action lawsuit. A judge ruled in favor of the employers, who accused the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation of overcharging them on premiums in order to help offset hefty discounts they offered to other firms that joined group insurance plans. According to the civil lawsuit, those employers' premiums were discounted by as much as 90 percent. Additionally, the plaintiffs claim that insurance groups repeatedly dropped firms that filed claims against them in order to keep premium rates low.
The claim initially sought total damages of about $1.3 billion, but the plaintiffs' final award will likely be millions of dollars less than that sum. Although the judge ruled that the Ohio BWC did indeed overcharge the plaintiffs on premiums paid between 2001 and 2008, he ordered the victorious employers to file a request with a recalculated sum. The recalculation is necessary because the judge determined that the employers are not entitled to interest on the premiums.
Despite the fact that the plaintiffs will not receive the full amount, their head legal representative announced that his clients were pleased with the result because it will still funnel "a substantial amount of money" to Ohio businesses and help local economies across the state. The plaintiffs must submit a new suggested sum by the end of January.
An official with the Ohio BWC said that the state agency was "disappointed" by the outcome of the case and explained that the BWC intends to appeal the decision. He noted that the agency plans to stand by its position that it acted lawfully. The BWC's legal team argued that the plaintiffs were never treated unfairly and are thus not entitled to compensation.
Source: Cleveland.com, "More than 270,000 Ohio employers due restitution after paying excessive workers' comp premiums," Brandon Blackwell, Dec. 28, 2012