Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the Workers’ Compensation Board’s decision affirming the decision of the administrative law judge concluding that Katherine Rudd was entitled to the two-multiplier under under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.730(1)(c)(2), holding that a workers’ compensation claimant is entitled to the two-multiplier when that individual voluntarily chooses to retire. At issue was whether the two-multiplier under section 342.730(1)(c)(2) applies to a claimant’s benefits when the claimant returns to work and later retires for reasons not solely related to the work-related injury itself. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment below, holding that, under the circumstances presented in this case, the two-multiplier must be applied to comply with the unambiguous language of the statute. View "Active Care Chiropractic, Inc. v. Rudd" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals dissolving the stay of execution, and thus all collection activity, upon a judgment issued by the circuit court holding that Appellants failed to show “extraordinary cause.” The underlying merits of the circuit court’s case concerned the Public Service Commission’s enforcement of a previously-obtained money judgment that was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Because the trial court’s order did not specify the procedural grounds for its decision to stay the case pending the resolution of an ongoing administrative case, the Supreme Court analyzed this case as an appeal from an order imposing a temporary injunction. The Court then denied Appellants’ motion to vacate the Court of Appeals’ order and affirmed the lower appellate court, holding that the judgment was valid and enforceable and that the equities did not weigh in Plaintiff’s favor. View "Pollitt v. Public Service Commission of Kentucky" on Justia Law

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On review of the decision of the Court of Appeals reversing a final order issued by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure issued against Appellee, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Court of Appeals misconstrued the relevant statutes. Upon the issuance of a complaint against a physician, a hearing officer is appointed to conduct and evidentiary hearing and issue a recommended order. Thereafter, a hearing panel of the Board considers the matter and determines either to dismiss the complaint or to issue a final order regarding the violation and an appropriate penalty. In the instant case, the Court of Appeals concluded that the hearing officer erred by not recommending a specific penalty and that the Board’s hearing panel also erred by not independently reviewing the entire evidentiary record before rendering a final order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Ky. Rev. Stat. 13B.110(1) allows a hearing officer to recommend a penalty but does not require him or her to do so; and (2) Ky. Rev. Stat. 13B.120(1) requires the Board to consider the record but does not require the Board to review the proceedings in their entirety before issuing a final order. View "Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure v. Strauss" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals concluding that the Kentucky Coal Employers Self-Insurers Guaranty Fund was fully responsible for McCoy Elkhorn Coal Corporation’s workers’ compensation liabilities, including a thirty percent enhancement arising from the employer’s safety violations. Farley Sargent II was fatally injured while working in a mine. The decedent’s statutory beneficiaries settled their workers’ compensation claims with his employer, McCoy Elkhorn, leaving a bifurcated issue regarding enhanced benefits. The administrative law judge concluded that the decedent’s survivors and estate were entitled to the thirty percent increase of workers’ compensation payments that would otherwise be if the accident was caused by the employer’s failure to comply with statutes or regulations regarding workplace safety. See Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.165(1). At issue before the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court was whether the Guaranty Fund, which assumed the obligations of McCoy Elkhorn, its insolvent member, could be held responsible for the thirty percent enhancement. The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals correctly concluded that the Guaranty Fund was fully responsible for McCoy Elkhorn’s workers’ compensation liabilities. View "McCoy Elkhorn Coal Corp. v. Sargent" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the Kentucky Parole Board’s revocation hearing in this case was an adjudicative function, a discretionary act for which the Parole Board enjoyed absolute immunity from liability for its decisions whether to grant, deny, or revoke parole. Phyllis Roach was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment with a three-year conditional discharge period after she pled guilty to sodomy in the first degree. After she was released, Roach was charged with violating the terms of her postincarceration supervision. At a parole revocation hearing, the Parole Board sentenced Roach to serve fourteen months, the remainder of her conditional discharge period. Roach filed a complaint with the Board of Claims seeking damages for her “wrongful incarceration.” The Board of Claims rejected her claims. The circuit court reversed, finding that the Parole Board was grossly negligent in applying an unconstitutional sentence. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board’s adjudication of Roach’s rights as to whether she violated her postincarceration release requirements was a quasi-adjudicative function and therefore a discretionary act for which the Board enjoyed absolute immunity. View "Roach v. Kentucky Parole Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board upholding the decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ), which awarded Michael R. Plumley permanent partial disability benefits. On appeal, the Court held that the ALJ did not err (1) by relying upon the medical report of Dr. Greg Snider, who evaluated Plumley under the range-of-motion method and used terminology different from that which Plumley would use to describe essentially the same condition; (2) by finding that Plumley had three distinct work-related injuries, for each of which the ALJ made three tandem benefit awards rather than a single-injury with a single-benefit award; and (3) in his use of modifier multipliers. View "Plumley v. Kroger, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board (Board) affirming the decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ) awarding Donald Jobe benefits regarding his back. Jobe, an employee of Ford Motor Company, suffered a right hip injury stemming from a work-related accident. Jobe applied for workers’ compensation benefits, asserting that he sustained a low back impairment due to the hip injury. The ALJ found that Jobe’s work-related hip injury was a proximate cause of his low back impairment and awarded Jobe benefits for a fourteen percent permanent partial disability, temporary total disability benefits for the periods he was off work due to his back impairment, and medical benefits. The Board affirmed, concluding that the ALJ had substantial evidence to support his finding that Jobe’s low back impairment had a causal connection to the work-related injury. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ based his decision that Jobe’s back impairment was work-related on substantial evidence. View "Ford Motor Co. v. Jobe" on Justia Law

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The administrative law judge’s (ALJ) findings that Appellant was exposed to MOCA, a curing agent and a known carcinogen, at a TEMA Isenmann, Inc. production facility and that this exposure resulted in an occupational disease were supported by substantial evidence. Appellant worked for TEMA Isenmann, Inc. When he was diagnosed and treated for bladder cancer, he sought permanent total disability benefits based upon his assertion that his cancer amounted to an occupational disease. On remand for the second time from the Workers’ Compensation Board, the ALJ awarded Appellant the benefits sought. The Board affirmed the ALJ. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding that the ALJ’s award was based upon substantial evidence. View "Miller v. TEMA Isenmann, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals reversing the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board (Board), which reversed the ALJ’s rejection of Plaintiff’s claim for enhanced benefits and reinstated the judgment of the ALJ. Plaintiff, an employee of VanMeter Contracting, Inc., was critically injured in a workplace accident. After an investigation, the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Administration (KOSHA) issued a citation against VanMeter, charging it with violating 29 CFR 1926.703(a)(1). Plaintiff filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and asserted a claim for a thirty percent benefit enhancement provided by Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.165(1) for the workplace injury. Plaintiff alleged the same regulatory violations asserted by KOSHA and a violation of the general workplace safety duty of Ky. Rev. Stat. 338.031(1)(a). The ALJ declined to grant the thirty percent enhancement, finding that Plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to prove the intentional violation of any safety statute or regulation. The Board reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed the Board. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board misconstrued or overlooked controlling law when, in contradiction of the ALJ’s findings, it accorded conclusive weight to the KOSHA settlement agreement. View "Groce v. Vanmeter Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals reversing the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board (Board), which reversed the ALJ’s rejection of Plaintiff’s claim for enhanced benefits and reinstated the judgment of the ALJ. Plaintiff, an employee of VanMeter Contracting, Inc., was critically injured in a workplace accident. After an investigation, the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Administration (KOSHA) issued a citation against VanMeter, charging it with violating 29 CFR 1926.703(a)(1). Plaintiff filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and asserted a claim for a thirty percent benefit enhancement provided by Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.165(1) for the workplace injury. Plaintiff alleged the same regulatory violations asserted by KOSHA and a violation of the general workplace safety duty of Ky. Rev. Stat. 338.031(1)(a). The ALJ declined to grant the thirty percent enhancement, finding that Plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to prove the intentional violation of any safety statute or regulation. The Board reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed the Board. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board misconstrued or overlooked controlling law when, in contradiction of the ALJ’s findings, it accorded conclusive weight to the KOSHA settlement agreement. View "Groce v. Vanmeter Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law