COLUMBUS – Today Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer announced that the bureau has reached an agreement in principle to settle the San Allen case, a class action lawsuit filed in 2007 against the State of Ohio over BWC pricing policies that were in place between 2001 and 2008.
Buehrer issued the following statement:
“Ohio has made major changes to its workers’ compensation system over the past several years. The policies that were at issue in this litigation in 2007 are not the same ones in place today, and we’re pleased that we have reached a settlement so we can move forward. Improvements have been made to how premiums and discounts are calculated, as well as to billing practices, and premiums are continuing to go down as a result. Sound management of the trust fund made it possible to return $1 billion in rebates to customers last year, and major investments in workplace safety are helping employers do a better job of preventing injuries by keeping their workers safe. All of these improvements are paying off for workers and businesses, and we’re going to keep building on them.”
If the Court gives its preliminary approval to the settlement agreement, class members will be notified with instructions for submitting claims. A third-party claims administrator will then begin processing claims in the next few months.
Details of Agreement in Principle
· $420 million fund will be created to pay for claims to employers participating in the lawsuit, the class’s attorney fees, court costs and the costs of administering the fund ;
· Claims will be filed with a third-party administrator appointed to manage the claims process;
· Any unclaimed funds will be returned to BWC’s State Insurance Fund to pay claims to injured workers.
Background on the San Allen lawsuit
· December 18, 2007: Case filed in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas captioned San Allen, Inc., et al. v. Ryan, Adm.;
· March 20, 2013: Decision handed down by Judge Richard McMonagle awarding plaintiffs $859,440,258.79;
· April 15, 2013: BWC filed appeal in the 8th District Court of Appeals;
· July 19, 2013: BWC filed its brief in the 8th District Court of Appeals, and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, NFIB and the AFL/CIO filed a joint Amicus brief supporting BWC's appeal;
· May 15, 2014: The 8th District Court of Appeals upheld most of the initial trial court decision but remanded the case to the trial court to reduce its prior award to account for benefits received by class members who were also in group rating. The March 2013 judgment is subsequently reduced to $650,978,738.82;
· June 27, 2014: BWC filed its Notice of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Ohio and asked it to take jurisdiction of the case;
· July 22, 2014: Agreement in principle to settle lawsuit announced.
By ANDY RUSS Gahanna
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has charged small businesses rates that are becoming so high that it is a struggle to continue to operate from year to year. I have been in business for more than 37 years and employ more than 150 people, who depend on my company to provide a living.
With the increase and high rates the bureau is charging, the day may come when I am forced to make a business decision to close the doors.
Small business is what keeps America running. Every day, more small-business owners are closing their doors.
For the entire article, visit the Columbus Dispatch online.
The BWC asked the Court of Appeals to put their decision hold until after the Supreme Court rules on their appeal (which has not yet been filed). Judge Rocco (the Presiding Judge) in the attached decision, told the BWC no. The BWC argued that that judicial economy requires the stay, but the Court of Appeals said that judicial economy requires the case to move forward without further delay.
Read the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District Journal Entry.
Ohio small business owners rallied around the Bureau of Workers' Compensation office this week asking to be paid back. Over 270,000 businesses were overcharged. The Ohio BWC has the money set aside, but they are currently deciding if they should pay it back or appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Small business owners have been put out of business by these overcharges. Others are filing bankruptcy. Most involved are confused why the Ohio BWC and Governer Kasich are just not paying this back and making things right for Ohio small business owners.
While everyone waits, the judgement is acruing an additional $72,000 PER DAY in interest. Not to mention the Ohio BWC has spent approximately $4 million in legal fees to defend against paying back Ohio business owners. Yet, we still wait. www.paynowbwc.com
Editorial Board on Cleveland.com Replays the Ohio BWC Class Action and Says "The ADMINISTRATION should settle."
Last week on Cleveland.com, the Editorial Board posted a recap of the Ohio BWC Class Action, group ratings, and the Appellate Court's decision to affirm the decision to pay back Ohio's small businesses.
The article succinctly described the arguments and the math involved as "complex." Many actuarial calculations were done by experts and professionals in this field. An Actuary expert does not volunteer for this work. They, obviously, get paid for their time and reports as well as many other experts in this case. An exorbanant amount of resources have been poured into this class action to stand up for the rights of the underdog. The underdog in this case is Ohio's small businesses.
The article ends with a clear opnion and recommendations for the Administration of the Ohio BWC.
There are hints that Gov. John Kasich's administration might settle the case, San Allen Inc. vs. Buehrer, rather than appeal it to the Ohio Supreme Court. The administration should settle. The BWC has a created a reserve fund to pay the judgment, if it must. The plaintiffs are entitled to justice. They've waited long enough for it. And, as tweaked by the Court of Appeals, McMonagle's decision offers it.
For the sake of Ohio and small business owners. hopefully the Administration is paying attention and will do the right thing.
Over the last few weeks, many newspapers and news websites have picked up this story. This demonstrates just how VERY important the resolution of the class action is to Ohio. The Ohio BWC Class action filing and documents can be found on our website at www.garson.com/ohio-bwc-class-action. If you are a small business owner who is owed money, learn more at www.paynowbwc.com.
State appeals court sides with business owners, rebukes Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation on rate-setting
Small Business Members of NFIB, Ohio Chamber, COSE and OMA Owed More than $73 Million in Ohio BWC Class Action
The small business members of the National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, COSE and Ohio Manufacturers' Association are owed more than $73 Million in Ohio BWC Class Action.
If you are a member of one of these organizations, you should be asking your organization a very important question.
What efforts have you expended in advocating that the BWC pay me back for my portion of the $860 million judgment rendered in the San Allen class action lawsuit?
The reality is they've done nothing. Isn't that a little odd? Have these organizations communicated to their members that they are owed money ? No. They haven't. These groups played a role in advocating and putting their members into this dysfunctional group rating program. Add to that the fact that these trade groups made money off the program that destroyed some of their members. This is likely something the groups do not want to ever discuss.
Visit www.paynowbwc.com to learn more and find out how much you are owed by entering your BWC policy number.