Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals declining to extend the holding in Livingood v. Transfreight, LLC, 467 S.W.3d 249 (Ky. 2015) to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.730(1)(c)1, otherwise known as the three-multiplier, holding that this Court declines to extend Livingood to the three-multiplier.At issue was whether the holding in Livingood "that the legislature did not intend to reward an employee's wrongdoing with a double benefit" should be extended to preclude application of the three-multiplier when a claimant has been terminated for misconduct. Claimant in this case was allegedly fired for filing false information on a company report. The ALJ found that Claimant retained a permanent impairment due to a work injury and that this case justified application of the three-multiplier. The Workers' Compensation Board affirmed, determining that Livingood did not apply to the three-multiplier. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that nothing in the statue or the facts below requires extension of Livingood to section 342.730(1)(c)1. View "Tractor Supply v. Wells" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the order of the Workers Compensation Board reversing an Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) application of the 2x multiplier in Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.730(1)(c)2, holding that there was no error.After suffering a work-related injury Claimant continued working his normal job for almost one year before he was laid off for unrelated reasons. The ALJ determined that, since Claimant earned no wage after the lay-off he qualified for the 2x multiplier, which doubles a claimant's benefits if the claimant returns to work after injury at the same or higher wages but subsequently experiences a cessation of that employment. The Board reversed as to the application of the 2x multiplier, determining that there was no "return" to work under section 342.730(1)(c)2. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ misapplied the law to the facts. View "Helton v. Rockhampton Energy, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals that affirmed an administrative law judge's (ALJ) award of permanent partial disability benefits to Plaintiff, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Plaintiff worked for Defendant for twenty-three years as a garbage truck driver and loader. After he was injured on two separate occasions, Plaintiff filed two claims for workers' compensation benefits. The ALJ awarded Plaintiff permanent partial disability benefits, applying the three-multiple from Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.730(1)(c)(1) to the benefits for both injuries. The Workers' Compensation Board affirmed. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ's award was supported by substantial evidence. View "Apple Valley Sanitation, Inc. v. Stambaugh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the circuit court to overturn a final order of the Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services dismissing an administrative action against Appalachian Hospice Care, Inc., holding that there was no error.At issue on appeal was whether the Secretary erred in concluding that a non-lawyer's request for an administrative hearing on behalf of a corporate entity constitutes the unauthorized practice of law requiring dismissal of the administrative action. The lower courts answered the question in the negative. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no unauthorized practice of law in this case. View "Cabinet for Health & Family Services v. Appalachian Hospice Care, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the Workers' Compensation Board's decision reversing a decision by the Chief Administrative Law Judge (CALJ) denying Carlye Harper's motion to reopen her workers' compensation claim to seek vocational rehabilitation benefits, holding that there was no error.Harper suffered a work-related injury to her back and lower extremities. After a hearing, an ALJ awarded permanent partial disability income benefits. Approximately sixteen months later, Harper sought to file an application for vocational rehabilitation services pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.710. The CALJ overruled the motion to reopen. The Board reversed, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the legislature intended section 342.710(3) to provide an independent ground for reopening, and claim preclusion did not bar adjudication of Harper's claim. View "Kindred Healthcare v. Harper" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the opinion of the court of appeals vacating the administrative law judge's (ALJ) award of temporarily total disability (TTD) benefits and affirmed the portion of the court of appeals' opinion vacating the award of permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits insofar as it applied to the enhancement, holding that the court of appeals erred in part.Plaintiff sustained a work-related injury while working for Defendant. An ALJ awarded Plaintiff TTD benefits, PPD benefits, and medical benefits. The ALJ applied the two-times multiplier from Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.730(1)(c)2 to Plaintiff's PPD benefits. The court of appeals vacated the ALJ's award of TTD benefits and vacated the award of PPD benefits insofar as it applied to the enhancement. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the ALJ did not err in awarding Plaintiff TTD benefits; and (2) the ALJ erred in enhancing Plaintiff's PPD benefits by the two-times multiplier. View "French v. Rev-A-Shelf" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ) granting Austin Ellison's workers' compensation claim and awarding him disability benefits, holding that substantial evidence supported the ALJ's conclusions.Ellison, who was employed by Dee Whitaker Concrete as a general laborer, was leaving a job site and traveling back to Whitaker Concrete's premises when he was injured in an automobile accident. Whitaker Concrete denied Ellison's workers' compensation claim on the ground that injuries sustained while going to or returning from the workplace are not compensable. The ALJ ruled that Ellison's injuries were compensable, finding that Ellison fell within the traveling employee and the service to the employer exceptions to the going and coming rule. The Board and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Ellison's status as a traveling employee qualified as an exception to the going and coming rule. View "Dee Whitaker Concrete v. Ellison" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the Board vacating an order of the administrative law judge (ALJ) and remanding the claim back to him to enter an award terminating Michael O'Bryan's benefits at age seventy, holding that the court of appeals did not err.O'Bryan received a work-related injury at age sixty-five, leading to his disability. The ALJ found O'Bryan to be permanently totally disabled and awarded him benefits that would continue as long as he remained disabled. On appeal, the Board held that newly-amended version of Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.730(4) applied to O'Bryan's benefits and that they should terminate when he reached the age of seventy. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the statute was constitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that O'Bryan's challenges to the amendment to section 342.730(4) were unavailing. View "O'Bryan v. Zip Express" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' decision affirming the opinion, workers' compensation award, and order of the administrative law judge (ALJ) determining that Appellee was permanently and totally disabled, holding that there was no error.Appellee was injured during the course and scope of his employment. An ALJ determined that Appellee was permanently, totally disabled. The Workers' Compensation Board affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellee's testimony regarding his psychological medical conditions was competent evidence; (2) the ALJ did not rely solely upon psychological testimony to find Appellee was permanently, totally disabled; and (3) there was substantial evidence in the record to sustain the ALJ's opinion and award. View "Time Warner Cable, Inc. v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's determination that the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems' (Board) investment authority with respect to the County Employees Retirement System (CERS) was governed by Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.650, holding that there was no error.The Cities of Fort Wright, Covington, Taylor Mill, and Independence (the Cities) brought this action alleging improper investments by the Board in its management of CERS. The trial court granted the Board's motion for declaratory judgment, determining that the Board had broad discretion in making investments, see Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.650 and 61.545(21), and therefore, its investments were lawful. The court of appeals affirmed. At issue on appeal was whether the Board's authorized investments were controlled broadly by section 61.650, as argued by the Board, or more restrictively by Ky. Rev. Stat. 78.790, as argued by the Cities. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly determined that the Board's investment authority was governed by section 61.650 and not by section 78.790. View "City of Fort Wright v. Board of Trustees of Kentucky Retirement Systems" on Justia Law