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Class Claims Bank Gets Cut of Workers’ Comp

CLEVELAND (CN) - Ohio is giving Chase Bank a cut of workers compensation payments due to injured workers, a class action claims in Cuyahoga County Court. Lead plaintiff Michael Cirino claims the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation requires him to get his check through a Chase debit card, and the bank charges him if he makes more than one withdrawal a month.

Cirino claims the state did not give him the option of "continuing to receive claims payment drafts or checks," but told him that "For your security and convenience, BWC has established an electronic transfer benefits (EBT) debit card account for you." The Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) issued his card through Chase bank, Cirino says. He is or was receiving $443 a week in workers' comp, payable biweekly in $886 payments.

Cirino says that since the state sent him the form letter in August 2009, he has had to get his worker's comp money from ATMs owned and operated by Chase Bank.

And while the state claimed that the ATM's are surcharge-free, Cirino says, "fees or surcharges are deducted or collected for each transaction in excess of one per month and in order to withdraw the payments that are credited to his account every 14 days, Cirino incurs fees, costs or deductions."

Cirino claims injured workers "have received reduced claim payment amounts due to the withheld and collected transaction fees that have been improperly and unlawfully charged against their account balances."

Cirino claims this violates Ohio law. He seeks declaratory judgment, class damages and restitution.Chase is not named as a defendant; only the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation is. Lead counsel for the class is W. Craig Bashein.

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