Claiming fears of “copy-cat” court filings, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has filed a request with the Ohio Supreme Court for yet another appeal of the brutal judgment in favor of Ohio small businesses. This action indicates the BWC will not comply with the orders of the trial court and Court of Appeals to pay back the $860 million it owes to over 250,000 Ohio employers.
BWC Administrator Buehrer’s decision came as a surprise to some who had hoped the Bureau would finally chose to put the issue behind them, especially after wasting over $5 million in legal fees and accruing over $30 million in interest.
In response to the news, Earl Stein, lead class member and president of Pay Us Back Ohio BWC, the non-profit group representing class members said, “It’s clear that the only consideration done by the Bureau was whether it should continue to do the wrong thing. Their decision is yet another slap in the face to Ohio job creators. The BWC has repeatedly admitted it overcharged over 250,000 employers $860 million, yet rather than working to help them they have decided to continue to hurt them.”
The BWC’s appeal is the latest in a seven-year court case, where in its own testimony the Bureau admitted it illegally overcharged Ohio employers. The high-profile case has cost the BWC (which is funded by Ohio employers) more than $5 million in legal fees to date — a cost that increases daily if the BWC drags the case out further. Additionally, each day the the BWC fails to comply with the court orders, interest accrues at a rate of $72,000, which now totals $30 million since the court’s initial ruling.
The agency’s appeal comes nearly six weeks after Ohio’s Eighth Appellate District Court (Cuyahoga County) released a scathing, unanimous decision largely upholding the the trial court’s decision finding the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation had illegally overcharged Ohio employers $860 million (San Allen, Inc., et al. vs Stephen Buehrer, Administrator, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation).
The Appellate Court in upholding the trial court decision, determined that the Bureau permitted an improper “cabal” of bureaucrats and lobbyists to rig workers’ compensation insurance premium rates for over 15 years.
“Claiming a fear ‘copy‐cat’ law suits as a reason for an appeal is absurd. It’s pretty simple, if they don’t want to be sued they shouldn’t break the law. The only precedent Buehrer seems to want is one that allows the BWC to continue to break the law to the detriment of Ohio employers,” said Stein.