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Two people falsely accused of unemployment fraud can take case to Court of Appeals

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Thousands of Michiganders wrongly accused of unemployment fraud have new hope.

That's after the Michigan Supreme Court said two plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the state could go before the Court of Appeals and argue that the state owes them damages.

The case was filed after a faulty computer system at the Michigan unemployment agency mistakenly flagged 40,000 claims as fraudulent between 2013 and 2015.   

Based on the false flags, the state seized bank account funds from people, garnished their wages, and assessed interest and other penalties. The state also criminally prosecuted some people.

Attorney Jennifer Lord says it was a huge injustice, and it's ongoing.

"People are still out there hurting," says Lord. "Nobody has received a complete refund, and there's been no recognition of the many other harms: the bankruptcies, the individuals who pled guilty to crimes they didn't commit."

Lord says she hopes the decision encourages the state of Michigan to enter into settlement talks.

A statement from the state attorney general says, “We are reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision and will work in tandem with our client to determine the most appropriate course of action moving forward.”

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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