NE Ohio Law Firm Dworken & Bernstein Partner Along with Co-Counsel Obtain $859M Verdict on Behalf of Ohio Employers; Ohio Bureau of Worker's Comp Must Refund Millions

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Patrick J. Perotti, Partner at the Northeast Ohio Law Firm of Dworken & Bernstein Co. and one of the country's top 75 Class Action litigators works with co-counsel to win $859 Million verdict on behalf of Ohio employers.

Patrick J. Perotti, Partner

Nearly 15,000 employers are each owed more than $10,000

Dworken & Bernstein Partner, Patrick J. Perotti's expertise as one of the top
Class Action attorneys and litigators in the country helped the Plaintiffs’ trial team achieve a record setting result in the recent $859 Million Dollar verdict in San Allen vs. Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Case #CV-07-644950 filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

The Ohio BWC must refund $859 million to about 264,000 employers after charging them excessive insurance premiums over eight years, a Cuyahoga County judge ruled Wednesday.

The order by Common Pleas Judge Richard McMonagle means employers large and small are entitled to refunds ranging up to $2 million dollars, said Patrick Perotti, one of the attorneys representing the Plaintiffs’ class. “Nearly 15,000 employers are each owed more than $10,000,” explained Mr. Perotti.

The ruling is the result of a six-year legal battle that began when Corky & Lenny’s restaurant owner Earl Stein challenged the BWC’s premium charges as illegal.

According to court documents, Stein and other business owners asserted that the bureau forced them to pay absurdly high premiums, which were unlawful overcharges prohibited by law. Aggressive discovery uncovered internal BWC documents which admitted the charges were more than the businesses properly owed. At trial, the BWC’s expert again conceded the overcharges, disagreeing only on the amount. Stein and the plaintiffs asserted a right to refunds without interest was $860 Million dollars. The BWC expert’s sworn affidavit set the amount at slightly above $400 Million.

McMonagle ruled in December that the employers were entitled to refunds, and this week set the amount, ordering the BWC to repay $859 Million dollars.

The illegal overcharges were a hardship for many businesses, including Avon-based Our Lady of the Wayside, which provides housing and transportation for people with disabilities. The nonprofit was forced to lay off workers as a result of its higher premiums, Michelle Homler, the organization's human resources director, said last week. Homler said Our Lady of the Wayside's claim totals $112,000.

Len Morris, owner of vending-machine supplier Serex Services Inc. in Youngstown said he's owed $90,000 and also had to let people go because of the higher premiums he was forced to pay.

Per the BWC website, http://www.OhioBWC.com under the media center link, the BWC lawyers announced they will appeal, objecting to the plaintiffs receiving any money. The BWC claims the formula used to determine the refunds provides an unfair "windfall" to many companies. However, based on internal BWC documents which contradicted the same arguments, McMonagle rejected these objections.

Mr. Perotti commented, according to this same BWC website, “the BWC complains the class members received more benefit than they overpaid. The BWC has now issued a summary, 'proving' the judge was wrong. Those are the same arguments the BWC made to the court during the 10 day trial, which the judge rejected. It is easy for lawyers after the fact to make convincing arguments in a vacuum. It is harder to ignore your client’s own secret, internal records which admit liability, especially when even your trial expert admits the class members were overcharged more than $400 million dollars.”

Like lead plaintiff Earl Stein of Corky & Lenny’s, Perotti asked, “The BWC’s own actuary this week submitted a sworn affidavit stating the overcharges are slightly over $400 Million Dollars. When is that amount going to be paid back?”

Robert Spiegle, financial controller at Empire Die Casting in Macedonia, was happy to hear the news. "It sounds like the judge has done the right thing," he said, adding that it's now up to the bureau to pay without delay.

Spiegle said Empire Die Casting is owed $213,000, which could be used to acquire new machines.

"It's time to get our money back so we can reinvest it in our companies and help grow our businesses and fuel the local economy," he said.

Dworken & Bernstein Co., L.P.A. is the largest law firm in Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula Counties, Ohio with additional offices in downtown Cleveland. Serving the community for over 50 years, Dworken & Bernstein and its 27 lawyers and staff of 65 offers a full range of legal services for businesses, individuals, and families.

Further information about Mr. Perotti and Dworken & Bernstein Co., L.P.A. can be found at http://www.dworkenlaw.com and at http://www.ohiolawyersgiveback.org.

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Barbara Marlowe
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