Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
by
In this administrative appeal brought by the Kentucky Retirement Systems from the decision of the circuit court in two consolidated cases concerning application of Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.598 the Supreme Court held that the Retirement Systems improperly applied the statute to pay spikes to a certain extent.Section 61-598, commonly known as the pension spiking statute, identifies artificial increases in creditable compensation to public pension-member employees occurring in the last five years preceding retirement, effectively increasing the employee's retirement benefits. In both cases, the alleged spikes were partly due to a change in the Jefferson County Sheriff's office (JCSO) accounting method and partly due to the employees' accrual of overtime hours. The Retirement Systems assessed JCSO for payment increased actuarial costs attributable to the alleged pension spikes. The circuit court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) an isolated transition in JCSO's new accounting method did not amount to an increase in compensation; (2) the Retirement Systems properly assessed the increased actuarial costs to the extent it was caused by regular overtime work and was not the result of a bona fide promotion or career advancement; and (3) the circuit court erred in reversing the Retirement System's original assignment of the burden of proving a bona fide promotion. View "Kentucky Retirement Systems v. Jefferson County Sheriff's Office" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court upholding that decision of the Retirement Systems's Administrative Review Board affirming the decision of the Kentucky Retirement Systems applying the Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.598, the pension-spiking statute, to assess actuarial costs to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO), holding that the Retirement Systems did not properly apply the spiking statute in this case.The Kentucky Retirement Systems assessed the costs because it found a JCSO employee took unpaid leave for two months, causing a temporary decrease in gross compensation in that year, but then returned to his earlier pay. The circuit court agreement with the Retirement Systems, finding that section 61.598 as applied was not arbitrary, and therefore, the circuit court was bound by the Board's decision. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the plain language of section 61.598 does not direct the retirement System to determine changes in compensation over a five-year period; and (2) the burden of proving a bona fide promotion was properly placed on the employer. View "Jefferson County Sheriff's Office v. Kentucky Retirement Systems" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the holding of the court of appeals that Plaintiff was not a "person employed in agriculture" under Kentucky's Workers' Compensation Act, holding that Plaintiff was a person employed in agriculture within the meaning of Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.650(5) and Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.0011(18) and therefore was not entitled to workers' compensation benefits.Plaintiff sought workers' compensation benefits for an injury she received while working on farmland owned by Defendant. Defendant asserted that it was not required to pay benefits because of the exemption for agricultural employers under Chapter 342 of the Workers' Compensation Act. The ALJ found that Plaintiff was an agricultural employee and dismissed her claim. The Workers' Compensation Board reversed the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff was an agricultural employee, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff was a person employed in agriculture at the time of her injury. View "Brownwood Property, LLC v. Thornton" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals holding that Defendant, Plaintiff's employer, timely filed an appeal with the Worker's Compensation Board, holding that Defendant's second petition for reconsideration was insufficient to toll the deadline to file an appeal.An administrative law judge issued an award of permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits for Plaintiff's work-related injuries. Defendant subsequently filed two petitions for reconsideration (PFR), both of which were denied. Defendant filed a notice of appeal that Plaintiff argued was untimely because Defendant's second PFR raised the same allegations of error as its first PFR. The Board vacated the ALJ's opinion and award, concluding that when Defendant filed its second PFR, it tolled the time Plaintiff had to file its appeal. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant's appeal to the Board was untimely. View "Jolly v. Lion Apparel, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court reversing Plaintiff's termination from his employment with the Commonwealth of Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), holding that the court of appeals did not err.Plaintiff was terminated from his position with CHFS for excessive and inappropriate email usage. The Kentucky Personnel Board affirmed the termination. The circuit court reversed the Board's order terminating Plaintiff on the grounds that the Board lacked substantial evidence to terminate Plaintiff and that its decision was arbitrary. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed and reinstated the Board's order terminating Plaintiff's employment, holding that the circuit court erred in remanding Plaintiff's case to the Board under Ky. Rev. Stat. 13B.150(2). View "Puckett v. Cabinet for Health & Family Services" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board affirming the decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ) dismissing Appellant's workers' compensation claim upon finding that Appellant failed to provide reasonable notice of her injury to her employer, holding that the ALJ applied the incorrect provision of Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.185(1).Appellant filed a workers' compensation claim alleging that she sustained cumulative trauma injuries to her neck, back, and hands while working as a nurse. Applying the notice provisions of section 342.185(1), the ALJ found that Appellant's delay of almost two years from the original manifestation date was untimely. The Board and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the ALJ erred in applying section 342.185(1) to Plaintiff's claim because, as of July 14, 2018, the notice provisions of section 342.185(1) do not apply to cumulative trauma injuries; and (2) under section 341.285(3), which specifically addresses a claimant's notice requirements for cumulative trauma injuries, Appellant's claim was timely. View "Anderson v. Mountain Comprehensive Health Corp." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board upholding the order of the administrative law judge (ALJ) denying Plaintiff a thirty percent enhancement of benefits from his employer, Defendant, as a result of workplace safety violations, holding that the safety-violation benefit enhancement did not apply.Plaintiff sustained a serious work-related injury while employed by Defendant, a temporary staffing company. At issue before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was entitled to the thirty percent enhancement under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.165(1) for Defendant's alleged workplace violations. The ALJ denied enhanced benefits. The Board and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant was not liable for section 342.165's enhancement of benefits because extending liability for the safety violations at the facility where Defendant sustained his injuries to Defendant pursuant to the "intentional failure" standard in section 342.165(1) was contrary to the current statute and caselaw. View "Maysey v. Express Services, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court remanded this case to the Workers' Compensation Board, holding that Mark Ivey's pre-employment lower back disc herniation and two surgeries required an impairment rating to be carved out of his permanent partial disability rating for which his employer, ViWin Tech, would be responsible.An ALJ assigned a whole-person impairment of twenty-eight percent and rejected a carve-out for a pre-existing injury. The Board and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, based on a plain reading of the relevant statutes and the AMA Guides, the ALJ erred in concluding that a carve-out was unwarranted. View "Viwin Tech Windows & Doors, Inc. v. Ivey" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming denial of disability retirement benefits by the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, holding that the lower courts misinterpreted the holding in Kentucky Retirement Systems v. West, 413 S.W.3d 578 (Ky. 2013), leading to multiple errors.At issue was the proof required of a public employee with less than sixteen years' credit to establish that his genetic condition that was present at conception but dormant until after twelve years on the job was not a "pre-existing" condition disqualifying him from benefits under Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.600(3)(d). Defendant was denied benefits, and the circuit court affirmed. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court's reading of West and its denial of disability retirement benefits. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that multiple errors occurred, and each error was arbitrary, capricious, View "Elder v. Kentucky Retirement Systems" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the decisions of the administrative law judge (ALJ) and the Workers' Compensation Board that the twelve percent interest on workers' compensation income benefits that were due but unpaid under the prior version of Ken. Rev. Stat. 342.040 applied in this case, holding that the six percent interest rate provided for in the 2017 amendment to the statute was applicable to all of Appellant's due but unpaid benefits.After the 2017 amendment, section 342.040 now provides for an interest rate of six percent on due but unpaid benefits. In 2016, Appellant experienced a compensable injury. Appellant filed a claim after the effective date of the amendment in 2017 and was awarded income benefits by an ALJ in 2018. Both the ALJ and the Board concluded that the twelve percent interest rate continued to apply to that portion of Appellant's benefit award that was attributable to the period before the 2017 effective date of the amendment. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, based on the General ASsembly's non-codified but express language regarding its intent with respect to the interest rate set forth in the 2017 amendment, the entirety of Appellant's benefit award was subject to the amended six percent interest rate. View "Martin v. Warrior Coal LLC" on Justia Law