20,000 to 40,000 Wrongfully Accused Closer to Day in Court
The Michigan Supreme Court recently issued an order granting oral argument on whether to allow further appeal in Bauserman, Williams, and Broe v. Unemployment Ins. Agency. The plaintiffs are pursuing damages against the Unemployment Agency for false claims of unemployment fraud. According to the Detroit Free Press:
The state has acknowledged that at least 20,000 Michigan residents — and possibly as many as 40,000 — were wrongly accused of fraud by a $47 million state computer system. The state operated the system without human supervision and with an error rate as high as 93%.
Twenty to forty THOUSAND. No human supervision. An error rate as high as NINETY-THREE PERCENT. As in 93 out of 100 times, the system reported incorrect results. The Free Press also reported that:
Those wrongly accused of fraud through robo-adjudications by the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System, MiDAS, were subjected to the highest-in-the-nation quadruple penalties and many were subjected to aggressive collection techniques such as wage garnishment and seizure of income tax refunds.
Hopefully these plaintiffs have the opportunity to be heard. Although the articles are silent on whether anyone was criminally charged, it’s not hard to imagine. And it’s also easy to imagine the incredulity of a judge or prosecutor when faced with a defendant claiming that the state’s computer system made a mistake. But even without criminal charges, the hardships that these tens of thousands of Michiganders suffered because of computer error must have been horrible. I am grateful for these brave named plaintiffs persevering to bring their case forward and hopefully get some justice for all of those people wrongly accused.
Also, how unshocking that “robo-adjudications” turned out to be a bad idea.