Business owners who may be eligible to share in a $420 million class action settlement over inflated premiums charged by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation have until Oct. 22 to submit a claim form.
The settlement stems from a class action lawsuit filed in 2007 alleging that the BWC illegally overcharged thousands of business owners who did not qualify for the group experience rating plan for policy years 2001 to 2008. A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge awarded the business owners $859 million following a bench trial in 2012, although the Eighth District Court of Appeals subsequently reduced that figure to $650 million in May 2014. The case was pending appeal to the Supreme Court of Ohio when the two sides reached the settlement agreement.
The Settlement Administrator, who is managing the distribution of funds on behalf of the parties, sent notices on Friday to all business owners who qualify as class members in the lawsuit. The notice contained a claim form that business owners must submit in order to qualify for their part of the settlement. Owners who have not received a notice but believe they may be eligible to participate in the settlement are encouraged to call the Settlement Administrator at (844) 322-8230.
The settlement defines class members as those business owners who, in one or more policy years from 2001 through 2008, (1) subscribed to the state workers’ compensation fund, (2) were not group rated, and (3) reported payroll and paid premiums in an occupational, or “manual” classification for which the non-group effective base rate was inflated due to application of the group experience rating plan. However, not all manual classifications were inflated under the group experience rating plan so not all non-group rated owners will be Class Members.
Owners can find out how much their claims are worth by visiting http://www.ohiobwclawsuit.com/ and then accessing the Online Policy Information Portal. In order to access the Online Policy Information Portal, a business owner must submit his or her BWC Policy Number and the claim number listed on the claim form sent by the Settlement Administrator.
The deadline for submitting a claim form is Oct. 22. That is also the deadline for filing an objection with the court over the fairness of the settlement. A Final Approval Hearing to approve the settlement is currently scheduled for 9 a.m. on November 19 in Judge Richard McMonagle’s courtroom at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center, Courtroom 16-D, 1200 Ontario Street, Cleveland, OH.