Garson Johnson Law Blog

BWC REACHES AGREEMENT IN PRINCIPLE TO SETTLE SAN ALLEN LAWSUIT

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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.

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