CLEVELAND -- A Cuyahoga County judge has awarded more than 270,000 Ohio employers an estimated $860 million after ruling the state Bureau of Workers' Compensation illegally overcharged them for years.
Judge Richard McMonagle also found that Workers' Comp knew that it was overcharging certain employers so that other employers, with good safety records, would pay less for their monthly insurance premiums.
"This is a banner day for Ohio businesses," said James DeRoche, of the law firm Seaman Garson. "When the government rips off business, they need to make it right."
DeRoche sued Workers' Comp in 2007 on behalf of businesses, including Corky and Lenny's Deli in Woodmere, that were charged excessive monthly insurance premiums that help cover workers who are injured on the job.
"As early as 1993, they knew what they were doing was wrong," said DeRoche.
Workers' Comp plans to appeal the decision.
"While we are disappointed in the decision, we continue to maintain that our actions were lawful and that the plaintiff's claims are without merit," the agency said, in a written statement.
"The real losers of this decision are Ohio's employers and injured workers since the only source to satisfy the judgment is the money collected from employers for the treatment of injured workers."
DeRoche countered that Workers' Comp has an $8 billion budgetary surplus.
"The money in surplus is the money that came straight out of the pocket of the employers in this class (action lawsuit)," he said. "It's their money that the bureau is holding."