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Judge: Ohio took too much for workers’ compensation

– Ohio overcharged about 270,000 businesses for workers’ compensation premiums and must repay them, a county judge said.

It’s a ruling that could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation plans to appeal the decision issued Friday.

A group of mostly small businesses sued Ohio in 2007 for $1.3 billion, saying they paid too much for their workers’ compensation premiums from 2001 to 2008.

Cuyahoga County Judge Richard McMonagle agreed but has asked the group to lower their monetary request because they are not owed interest on the premiums.

“It will be something less than a billion dollars, but still a substantial amount of money,” said Jim DeRoche, an attorney for the businesses.

He said the ruling will end up being good for the state’s economy because the money will go to small businesses.

“This ruling gives the state the opportunity to help the hundreds of thousands of Ohio employers grow their businesses, create jobs and move Ohio forward,” DeRoche said.

The judge set a final hearing for March 14 to determine how much money should be paid.

“While we are disappointed in the decision, we continue to maintain that our actions were lawful and that the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit,” said Bill Teets, spokesman for the workers’ compensation bureau.

The lawsuit said the bureau gave discounted premiums to companies that joined for group insurance plans and charged companies not in the groups excessive rates to pay for the discounts.