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Employer Law Report

Tag Archives: workers

Mental Block: Ohio Supreme Court Affirms Denial Of Workers’ Compensation Benefits For PTSD Not Caused By Physical Injury To Claimant

Posted in Workers' Compensation

In August 2009, Shaun Armstrong sustained minor physical injuries in a motor vehicle accident while in the scope of his employment. The other driver, who plowed into the back of Armstrong’s truck, was killed.

Armstrong’s workers’ compensation claim was allowed for neck and back injuries. He also sought an allowance for PTSD, which the Industrial Commission also allowed. Armstrong’s employer appealed the PTSD allowance to the common pleas court on the grounds that the PTSD was not caused by his physical injuries.

The parties stipulated that Armstrong had PTSD and conducted a bench trial to determine whether he was entitled …

Ohio Supreme Court Again Reins In BWC On Successor Liability

Posted in Workers' Compensation

As we have previously discussed, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has traditionally taken an aggressive position in finding that a business purchasing all or part of another business is responsible for the predecessor entity’s workers’ compensation risk, frequently resulting in an increase in premiums and penalties for the purchasing entity.

As we reported in 2009, the Ohio Supreme Court reaffirmed a narrow exception to the BWC’s broad successor-in-interest rules when the alleged successor obtained the business from the predecessor through an involuntary foreclosure proceeding. Then, in 2010, the BWC created a new rule that invalidated the Ohio Supreme …

Ohio Supreme Court Holds that Employee Not Wearing PPE Did Not Amount to a Deliberate Removal of an Equipment Safety Guard and Could Not Establish an Intentional Tort Claim

Posted in Workers' Compensation, Workforce Strategies

In Hewitt v. L.E. Myers Co., 2012-Ohio-5317, the Ohio Supreme Court held last week that protective gloves and sleeves are “personal protective items” that an employee controls and not equipment safety guards for purposes of stating a cause of action under Ohio’s intentional tort statute, which provides an exception to an employer’s workers’ compensation immunity. The Court also clarified that an employee claiming that his employer removed a safety guard—which creates a rebuttable presumption of intent to injure under the statute—must establish that the employer made a deliberate decision to lift, push aside, take off, or otherwise eliminate the …

Ohio BWC Offers a One-Time Waiver of Penalties to Employers Who Fail to Timely Pay Premiums

Posted in Workers' Compensation

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has implemented a new policy for employers who fail to pay premiums timely.

Pursuant to Governor Kasich’s Common Sense Initiative, in an effort to attract and retain business in Ohio, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will permit an employer one violation of the reporting deadline for payroll and waive any associated penalties with the violation.

If an employer fails to pay premiums timely and the employer’s coverage lapses, the employer becomes liable for late payments, interest and claim costs on claims that occur during the lapse. Previously, the only way an employer could be …

Sutton v. Tomco Machining, Inc.: Ohio Supreme Court Expands Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Protection

Posted in Workers' Compensation

On June 9, 2011, the Ohio Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in Sutton v. Tomco Machining, Inc., in which the Court expanded the scope of workers’ compensation retaliation protection to include employees who are injured on the job but have not yet filed an actual workers’ compensation claim.

On April 14, 2008, DeWayne Sutton injured his back while working at Tomco Machining, Inc. ("Tomco”). He allegedly reported the injury to Tomco’s president and within one hour of reporting the injury, Sutton was fired. According to Sutton’s complaint, the president did not give him a reason for the …

Ohio Legislature Preserves BWC Group Rating Program For the Time Being

Posted in Workers' Compensation

In response to the recent San Allen case in which the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court issued an order enjoining the Ohio BWC’s group rating program, the Ohio legislature has enacted House Bill 79, which became law on January 6, 2009. House Bill 79 allows the group rating program to continue by simply changing one word in Ohio Revised Code §4123.29, which creates and implements the program. By changing the word “retrospective” to “group,” the legislature avoids the problem identified by the court; that is, that the group rating program was actually a prospective program that permits employers to be dropped from …

Court Enjoins BWC Group Rating Program

Posted in Workers' Compensation

On November 18th, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in San Allen v. Ohio BWC issued an injunction prohibiting the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation from enacting its current group rating plan and requiring it to enact a retrospective rating plan for the policy year starting July 1, 2009. At its core, the decision requires the BWC to set premiums retrospectively, as requested by the plaintiffs, who were a collection of employers that had seen their premiums increase as a result of having been excluded from a group based on claim experience. Historically, the rates have been set prospectively by …

Ohio Workers’ Compensation Law Amended to Allow Coverage for Out-of-State Employees Injured in Ohio

Posted in Workers' Compensation

Effective September 11, 2008, Ohio has amended its Workers’ Compensation Act to provide coverage for out-of-state employees who are injured while temporarily working in Ohio. The new law will allow an out-of-state employee to receive compensation and/or benefits under Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws if the employee is a resident of a state that does not preclude the employee from receiving Ohio workers’ compensation benefits.…

BWC Long-Term Premium Plan Impacts Group Rating Program

Posted in Workers' Compensation

On June 27, 2008, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors unanimously approved the first phase of a long-term plan that will transition to a new split experience rating method for calculating premium rates that is designed to cushion the premium blow that state-funded employers frequently receive as the result of a single costly workers’ compensation claim. In addition, the plan will:

— Gradually reduce the maximum group rating discount from 85 to 77%beginning July 1, 2009, with a 20% annual cap on premium rate increases caused by these discount reductions;

— Cap premium increases at 100% …

Intentional Tort Amendment Found Unconstitutional

Posted in Workers' Compensation

On March 18, 2008, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Appellate District struck down the portion of Ohio’s Tort Reform Act that created a heightened standard for employees bringing intentional tort claims against their employers. Specifically, Kaminski v. Metal & Wire Prods. Co., Case No. 07-CO-15 (7th Dist. March 18, 2008), was the first appellate decision addressing the constitutionality of this heightened standard, and it found the standard improper.

Normally, an employee who suffers a workplace injury cannot file a lawsuit but must, instead, seek compensation under Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. Proof that the employer’s conduct was intentional, however, allows …

Recent Ohio Supreme Court Decision Represents Key Victory for Ohio Employers

Posted in Workers' Compensation

On December 20, 2007, the Supreme Court of Ohio released its decision in Bickers v. Western & Southern Life Insurance Company, which expressly limits the Court’s previous holding in Coolidge v. Riverdale Local School District. In Coolidge, the Supreme Court held that an employer could not terminate an employee who was receiving temporary total disability compensation on the basis of absenteeism or inability to work, when the absence or inability to work is directly related to an allowed medical condition in his or her workers’ compensation claim. 

As a result of the Coolidge decision, many Ohio employers were …