Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming a workers' compensation board opinion that affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded the order and opinion of the administrative law judge (ALJ) for further findings of fact concerning whether Appellant was, pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.610(w), an up-the-ladder employer of Randy Medlin, holding that there was a factual error present in the original ALJ analysis. On appeal, Appellant argued that the portion of the ALJ's opinion and order finding that Appellant was not an up-the-ladder employer pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.610(2) was based on substantial evidence and, accordingly, the Board erred in not affirming the ALJ's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ's determination was based upon a misconstruction of Uninsured Employers' Fund v. Ritchie, No. 2012-SC-00746-WC, 2014 WL 1118201 (Ky. Mar. 20, 2014). View "Tryon Trucking, Inc. v. Medlin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that the circuit court had jurisdiction in this matter and denying a writ of prohibition preventing the circuit court from adjudicating an action filed by the Lexington Herald-Leader, holding that, as a matter of law, the circuit court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the underlying action filed by the Herald-Leader. In the underlying action, the Herald-Leader sought judicial review of the determination of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission (LRC) that certain records requested by the Herald-Leader were not subject to disclosure under Kentucky's Open Records Act. Appellants, acting co-directors of the LRC, sought a writ of prohibition preventing the circuit court from adjudicating the action, asserting that the General Assembly had not granted the circuit court subject-matter jurisdiction to hear the merits of Herald-Leader's claims. The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court had subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the underlying case arising from the Herald-Leader's legislative records request; and (2) the trial court did not lack jurisdiction based on the separation of powers doctrine. View "Harrison v. Hon. Phillip J. Shepherd" 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 affirming the decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ) denying benefits to Appellant for a knee injury and two back surgeries, finding they were not causally related to his employment and therefore not compensable, holding that the ALJ's conclusions were supported by substantial evidence. The ALJ awarded Appellant temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, and medical benefits for a back strain he sustained while employed but denied benefits for his knee injury and back surgeries. The board and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the ALJ's finding that Appellant's knee injury was not work-related and therefore not compensable was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the ALJ's conclusions regarding Appellant's back surgeries were supported by substantial evidence. View "Wilkerson v. Kimball International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals upholding an Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) award of six percent permanent partial disability benefits to Appellant because of a work-related injury, holding that substantial medical evidence supported the six percent permanent partial disability found by the ALJ. On appeal, Appellant argued that the ALJ erred by making insufficient findings to exclude a pre-existing condition in assessing his impairment rating. The Workers' Compensation Board concluded that remand was necessary for the ALJ to address Finley v. DBM Technologies, 217 S.W.3d 261 (Ky. App. 2007). The court of appeals disagreed, holding that the ALJ did not need to apply Finley and that the ALJ based her opinion on substantial medical evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ did not err in limiting her discussion of Finley and that substantial evidence supported the ALJ's findings. View "Wetherby v. Amazon.com" 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 reversing the determination of an administrative law judge (ALJ) denying Roger Hall's claim for benefits pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. chapter 342, holding that the ALJ erred by finding that Hall's claim was barred under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.316(4)(a). Hall developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos over the course of his employment. Hall brought a claim for benefits. The ALJ denied the claim, concluding that Hall's mesothelioma was caused by his exposure to asbestos during the course of employment but that his claim was untimely filed pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.316(4)(a). The Board reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence compelled reversal of the ALJ's order. View "Letcher County Board of Education v. Hall" 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 affirming the ALJ's determination that Appellant was not entitled to benefits pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342 in connection with his injury while working as a bus driver for Transit Authority of River City (TARC), holding that the ALJ's decision denying Appellant benefits was supported by substantial evidence. While operating a TARC bus Appellant was assaulted by a passenger, resulting in injuries. TARC denied Appellant's claim for benefits pursuant to the special defense provided in Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.610(3), asserting that Appellant was the aggressor in the altercation and that he acted outside of the scope of his employment. After reviewing the evidence, the ALJ denied Appellant benefits. The Board and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the ALJ's determination to deny benefits. View "Trevino v. Transit Authority of River City" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's order requiring the Energy and Environment Cabinet to pay the outstanding balance owed to the court-appointed receiver after the conclusion of litigation regarding Jeffrey Bowling's five wastewater treatment plans that were discharging untreated sewage into Kentucky waters, holding that Kentucky law does not support requiring the Cabinet to pay the outstanding balance owed to the receiver. Beginning in 2004, the Cabinet notified Bowling that his plants were improperly operated and maintained. Bowling failed to resolve the plant conditions, and the Cabinet filed a complaint against him seeking a temporary injunction and requesting that the trial court appoint a receiver. Almost nine years later at the conclusion of the litigation, the receiver was owed $27,005. The trial court assessed this amount against the Cabinet. The court of appeals reversed, ruling that only Bowling could be liable for the money owed to the receiver. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no special circumstances existed to justify requiring the Cabinet to cure the receiver's deficiency. View "Baughman v. Commonwealth" 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 (Board) affirming the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) denial of Appellant’s claim for benefits pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342, holding that the ALJ’s decision denying Appellant benefits was supported by substantial evidence. Appellant was injured while working as a bus driver for Transit Authority of River City (TARC). TARC denied Appellant’s claim for benefits pursuant to the special defense provided in Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.610(3). TARC argued that Appellant’s injuries was the result of Appellant acting as the aggressor in an altercation with a passenger and that Appellant acted outside the scope of his employment. The ALJ denied benefits pursuant to section 341.610(3). The Board and the court of appeals determined that there was substantial evidence supporting the ALJ’s determination to deny benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ did not err in denying benefits. View "Trevino v. Transit Authority of River City" on Justia Law

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At issue was the role of the courts on judicial review of a final decision of the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KERS) as to a KERS member’s entitlement to disability retirement. A hearing officer recommended granting Plaintiff’s disability benefits application. The Board of Trustees of KERS (Board) denied Plaintiff’s application for disability benefits. The trial court affirmed the Board’s final order. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that substantial evidence compelled a finding in favor of Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the KERS Board’s final decision must be supported by substantial evidence; (2) the standard set forth in McManus v. Ky. Retirement Systems, 124 S.W.3d 454, 458 (Ky. App. 2003), in conjunction with Ky. Rev. Stat. 13B.150, provides the proper standard for judicial review of KERS disability retirement decisions; (3) the hearing officer’s credibility determinations are not binding on the Board; and (4) substantial evidence supported the Board’s decision in this case, and the evidence in favor of Plaintiff was not so compelling that no reasonable person could have failed to be persuaded by it. View "Kentucky Retirement Systems v. Ashcraft" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Plaintiff failed to meet the standard for judicial reversal of the Kentucky Retirement System (KERS) Board’s administrative decision to deny Plaintiff disability retirement benefits and thus affirmed the denial of benefits. The Board denied Plaintiff, a member of KERS, disability retirement benefits. The circuit court reversed on judicial review. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for reinstatement of the Board’s final decision denying Plaintiff’s claim, holding that the standard for judicial reversal of the Board’s decision was not met. On discretionary review, Plaintiff challenged the standard of judicial review set forth in McManus v. Kentucky Retirement Systems, 124 S.W. 3d 454 (Ky. App. 2003), and expressly adopted by the Supreme Court in Kentucky Retirement Systems v. Brown, 336 S.W.3d 8 (Ky. 2011). The Supreme Court held (1) the McManus standard remains proper; and (2) Plaintiff did not meet the standard for judicial reversal of the Board’s administrative decision. View "Bradley v. Kentucky Retirement Systems" on Justia Law