The Rundown

Ohio Supreme Court: 2,100 local governments won’t get workers comp refunds

By: - February 21, 2023 4:45 am

Pictured is the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center where the Ohio Supreme Court meets. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons..

Dismissing a case involving more than 2,000 Ohio localities, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that alleged overpayments from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation won’t be refunded, at least not through the state’s highest court.

The case reaches back to 2007, when private employers filed a class action lawsuit accusing the BWC of overcharging premiums to them after the agency created a “group rating program,” giving discounts to small Ohio employers.

A 2012 ruling sided with the private employers, awarding them $859 million, and in 2014, 270,000 of those employers were refunded their premiums.

Because public employers were excluded from the settlement, a new lawsuit was filed in 2013 with the governments of Cleveland and Parma at the helm, asking for refunds of BWC payments made between 1997 to 2009.

A lower court awarded $4.5 million in the case, but the Supreme Court reversed the decision, leading to two new lawsuits in 2021.

In the new lawsuit, Parma asked for refunds of payments between 2001 and 2011.

The state supreme court agreed with the BWC that the local governments couldn’t sue for the money through the common pleas courts, but instead through the Ohio Court of Claims, where cases asking the state for money damages are decided.

The local governments argued they were asking for a judgment from the court to keep the BWC from refusing to refund money, but the justices said this was “just an artful way of saying that it wants a refund.”



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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.