Attorneys in Cincinnati Oh & N. KY | Blog

San Allen Litigation Claim Forms Are In The Mail

Posted on Wed, Sep 03, 2014 @ 07:21 AM

by David J. SchmittDavid J. Schmitt

This post is the latest, and perhaps the most important, follow-up to the long saga of the San Allen workers compensation litigation.

As you may recall the class in this litigation consists of Ohio employers who were not group-rated during some or all of the period of 2002-2008. The class prevailed in both the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and the Court of Appeals. Rather than continue to slug it out in the Ohio Supreme Court, the State and the plaintiff class in the San Allen v. BWC litigation recently reached a tentative settlement in the amount of $420 Million Dollars.

Proof of Claim forms have now been mailed to all members of the class and companies should receive it shortly if they have not received it already. It is essential that employers fill out this form and return it by October 22, 2014 if they wish to make a claim. Although somewhat reduced by the settlement, the potential recovery for many employers is still quite substantial. The information accompanying the form also provides a website address that employers can visit to verify the amount of their claims.

A Final Approval Hearing for the settlement is scheduled in front of Judge McMonagle of the Cuyahoga County of Common Pleas on November 19, 2014.

The Proof of Claim form asks for a company representative to certify certain information and to provide banking information so that restitution funds can be electronically transferred.

The attorney’s at Cors & Bassett are available to assist any employers who may have questions regarding the litigation or completing the Proof of Claim form. Please contact David Schmitt at 513-852-2587 or by email at djs@corsbassett.com.

Tags: Ohio Workers' Compensation, San Allen Litigation

UPDATE | The State of Ohio Settles Worker's Comp Overpayment

Posted on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 @ 09:34 AM

by David J. SchmittDavid J. Schmitt

A lot can change in a few weeks. Only a matter of days ago, the State of Ohio appealed the San Allen litigation to the Ohio Supreme Court. If you have seen my earlier blog posts on this case, you may recall that pursuant to the trial court ruling, employers who paid Ohio Worker’s Compensation premiums between 2001 – 2008, and which were not group-rated, were found to be entitled to reimbursement for a portion of their premiums.

In the case of San Allen, Inc., et al, v. Stephen Buehrer, Administrator of the Ohio BWC, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CV-07-644950, the plaintiffs consist of Ohio employers who paid workers compensation premiums during the indicated period, and which did not receive group-rated premium discounts. The lawsuit contended that the BWC’s premium discounts for group-rated employers were too steep and that the BWC overcharged other employers to make up the difference.

The plaintiffs initially requested close to $1.3 Billion in reimbursement for class members. In a decision issued December 28, 2012, Judge Richard McMonagle that the class was entitled to reimbursement in the amount of $860 Million Dollars.

Unsurprisingly, the Ohio BWC appealed the decision to the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals.  That Court has upheld the lower court’s decision, and was unstinting in its criticism of the BWC, stating,  “Reduced to its irreducible essence, this appeal is about a cabal of Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation bureaucrats and lobbyists for group sponsors who rigged workers’ compensation premium rates so that for employers who participated in the BWC’s group-rating plan, it was “heads we win” and for employers who did not participate in the group-rating plan, it was “tails you lose”.

The Court of Appeals also returned the case to the trial court for a recalculation of damages, based on the State’s assertion that some employers were being credited for years in which they were not actually class members. This led to a reduction in the award from $860 Million to $650 Million.  

Even after this reduction, the State appealed the case to the Ohio Supreme Court, but continued to negotiate with class counsel. Yesterday, a tentative settlement in the amount of $420 Million was announced. I describe this as “tentative” because the settlement must be approved by the trial court judge. Judge McMonagle has shown himself to be sympathetic to the plaintiff employers, and there is some chance, albeit a small one, that he may refuse to approve the settlement and tell the parties to negotiate further. Additionally, attorney’s fees will be deducted from the total, and those too must be approved by the judge.

Once approved, class counsel will be required to notify all class members of the settlement and the method by which they can submit their claim for reimbursement. While the formula is not yet known, it will undoubtedly be based on the amount of premiums paid and the number of years in which the company was a class member, i.e., was not group rated.

As developments continue to arise in this case, Cors & Bassett will provide further information and guidance to assist you. Please contact David Schmitt  at djs@corsbassett.com or by phone at 513-852-2587 if you would like to discuss this matter further.

Tags: Ohio Workers' Compensation, San Allen Litigation

UPDATE | Ohio Employers Are Entitled to Worker's Compensation Premium Reimbursement

Posted on Fri, May 30, 2014 @ 11:47 AM

by David J. SchmittDavid J. Schmitt

Early last year, I blogged about the trial court’s decision in the San Allen v. Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation case.  An update is now clearly in order.

Pursuant to the trial court ruling, employers who paid Ohio Worker’s Compensation premiums between 2001 – 2008, and which were not group-rated, are entitled to reimbursement for a portion of their premiums.

In the case of San Allen, Inc., et al, v. Stephen Buehrer, Administrator of the Ohio BWC, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CV-07-644950, the plaintiffs consist of Ohio employers who paid workers compensation premiums during the indicated period, and which did not receive group-rated premium discounts. The lawsuit contended that the BWC’s premium discounts for group-rated employers were too steep and that the BWC overcharged other employers to make up the difference.

The case was granted class-action status meaning that any employer that paid premiums to the BWC on a nongroup-rated basis during any one or more of the policy years in question is automatically part of the class unless it affirmatively opted-out.

The plaintiffs initially requested close to $1.3 Billion in reimbursement for class members. In a decision issued December 28, 2012, Judge Richard McMonagle determined that the BWC did indeed overcharge the plaintiff employers and that the class is entitled to reimbursement in the amount of $860 Million Dollars.

Unsurprisingly, the Ohio BWC appealed the decision to the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals.  After several months of waiting, the Court has upheld the lower court’s decision, meaning that the BWC is still on the hook for $860 Million Dollars. The court’s written opinion was particularly harsh. In the very first sentence, the Court stated, “Reduced to its irreducible essence, this appeal is about a cabal of Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation bureaucrats and lobbyists for group sponsors who rigged workers’ compensation premium rates so that for employers who participated in the BWC’s group-rating plan, it was “heads we win” and for employers who did not participate in the group-rating plan, it was “tails you lose”.

The Court of Appeals also returned the case to the trial court for a recalculation of damages, including the over $2Million Dollars per month in interest on the original verdict that has been piling up during the pendency of the appeal.

The BWC stated that it is disappointed in the decision and is reviewing its options. These may include appealing the case to the Ohio Supreme Court. If that were to occur, it will  likely be another year at least before any distribution would be made to class members.

On the other hand, the State may decide that it is time to settle. The BWC can afford it. The agency has over $8 Billion in its surplus fund, and has had the judgment amount in escrow for many months.

Regardless of whether it is a class member, all Ohio employers should continue to follow this case. Class members will naturally be interested in how much reimbursement they may be entitled to. Non-class members may still be impacted because if the BWC’s appeal fails and it has to pay this judgment, it may have to raise premiums in order to recoup some or all of its losses.

As developments continue to arise in this case, Cors & Bassett will provide further information and guidance to assist you. Please contact David Schmitt  at djs@corsbassett.com or by phone at 513-852-2587 if you would like to discuss this matter further.

Tags: Ohio Workers' Compensation