As previously reported in this blog, the Ohio legislature attached a provision to the state’s 2012-2013 budget doing away with the lump sum payment of loss awards in Ohio Workers’ Compensation claims. As we further noted in our blog, we questioned the constitutionality of attaching a substantive change in Workers’ Compensation law to a bill dealing with Ohio’s budget.
We are pleased to report that the Ohio Association of Justice (OAJ), an organization of attorneys that advocates for injured people, filed a lawsuit in Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court challenging the constitutionality of inserting the change in the payment of loss awards in the budget bill. The suit asserts that the Ohio General Assembly violated Section 15(D), Article II of the Ohio Constitution, which provides that “(n)o bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title.”
The suit asks the court to declare that portion of the budget bill unconstitutional, and to forbid the enforcement of the change.
We applaud OAJ leadership in defending the rights of injured workers to allow the continued payment of loss awards in one lump sum. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has already enforced the change as written. Our hope is that the court moves quickly in declaring the law unconstitutional, forbids its enforcement, and allows injured workers to receive these general damage awards in one lump sum.