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Hamilton County woman loses Ohio suit over $300/week unemployment benefits

The plaintiffs intend to appeal.
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 7:39 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX) - An effort by several Ohio plaintiffs to force the payout of extra federal unemployment benefits has failed.

The case concerns the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which increased the amount a worker could receive in weekly benefits by $300 until Sept. 6, 2021.

Gov. Mike DeWine on May 13 announced Ohio’s participation in that program would end on June 26, something explicitly permitted by the CARES Act.

Candy Bowling, a Forest Park woman who relies on unemployment, and two other Ohioans sued DeWine and the Director of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to pay the FPUC payments.

The plaintiffs filed for a preliminary injunction at the same time to force the payments’ resumption as the larger case plays out.

It was that injunction a Franklin County Judge Michael J. Holbrook denied on Thursday. In doing so, he ruled the larger case should fail as well.

Holbrook acknowledged Bowling suffers “irreparable harm” without the $300 weekly benefits, which she detailed to FOX19 NOW in June.

But the plaintiffs’ legal argument relied on Ohio statutes directing ODJFS to adopt Department of Labor rules and regulations under the Social Security Act that relate to unemployment compensation.

Swing and a miss, according to Holbrook.

The FPUC benefits were created under the CARES Act, not the Social Security Act, and the Ohio statutes only mention the latter.

If they were amended to mention the CARES Act, that would be a different story, Holbrook said. They were not.

“Simply put, because the clear and unambiguous language of [the Ohio statutes] do not place an obligation on Governor DeWine to continue participation in the FPUC program, the Court finds plaintiffs cannot meet their burden of proving a substantial likelihood of success on the merits by clear and convincing evidence,” Holbrook wrote.

DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted issued the following statement:

“We are pleased with the decision. We have heard over and over again from employers who can’t find workers to fill open positions, and this policy helps both employers and workers. Our administration has focused on opportunities to help Ohioans find quality, well-paying jobs. As a result of the tough decisions we have made, Ohio’s recovery is strong, unemployment claims are declining, and Ohio’s unemployment rate is below the national average.”

Plaintiff’s attorney Brian Flick intends to appeal.

“We look forward to continuing to fight for the rights of all affected Ohioans in front of the 10th District Court of Appeals,” he said following the ruling.

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