Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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In this appeal, intervening statutory law enacted by the General Assembly rendered moot the legal issues decided by the circuit court. Here, the circuit court sustained the Attorney General’s challenge to Governor Matthew Bevin’s authority under Ky. Rev. Stat. 12.028 to abolish and reorganize the University of Louisville Board of Trustees and permanently enjoined the Governor from implementing executive orders issued in connection with his effort. The Supreme Court dismissed the Governor’s appeal and remanded the case to the circuit court with directions to dismiss the complaint with prejudice, holding that newly enacted Senate Bill 107 controls over section 12.028. The case is moot because Senate Bill 107 provides a specific statutory path for a governor to disband and reconstitute a university’s governing board and creates a process for the removal of individual members of a university’s governing board. View "Bevin v. Beshear" on Justia Law

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The Board of Commissioners of the City of Danville impermissibly went into closed session to discuss its intention to bid on real property offered for sale pursuant to an absolute auction, but the Board’s action was not willful. The Attorney General issued a decision that the Board had violated the Open Meetings Act and that the Board had committed a violation in failing to respond to a written complaint delivered to the mayor by the Danville Advocate-Messenger regarding the Board's closed meeting. The circuit court upheld the Attorney General’s determination but denied the newspaper’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs on grounds that the violations were not willful. The Court of Appeals upheld the finding of an open meeting violation but reversed the trial court’s finding that the violation was not willful. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) no exception permitted the Board’s contested action; but (2) the Board’s action was not willful, and therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the newspaper’s motion for costs and fees. View "Board of Commissioners of City of Danville v. Advocate Communications, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the conclusion of an administrative law judge (ALJ), the Workers’ Compensation Board, and the Court of Appeals that Luis Lopez, an uninsured employer, was properly notified of Isaias Silva-Lamas’s resolution of injury claim. The ALJ found that Silva-Lamas became permanently and totally disabled as a result of an injury he suffered while employed by Lopez. Because it appeared that Lopez never received notice of the claim, the Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF) contested the Department of Workers’ Claims’s jurisdiction to proceed against him and, by extension, against the UEF. The ALJ, Board, and Court of Appeals concluded that Silva-Lamas had acted appropriately in filing his claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that service was appropriate under the relevant statute and civil rules. View "Uninsured Employers Fund v. Acahua" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court overruled Shamrock Coal Co. v. Taylor, 697 S.W.2d 952 (Ky. App. 1985), which holds that a complaint that exhibits “a clear attempt at verification” is sufficiently compliant with Ky. Rev. Stat. 341.450(1) to authorize judicial review. At issue in this case was whether Appellee had substantially complied with the verification requirement of section 341.450(1) when he filed a complaint seeking judicial review of an adverse decision of the Kentucky Unemployment Insurance Commission (KUIC). The circuit court dismissed the complaint based upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Taylor v. Kentucky Unemployment Insurance Commission, 382 S.W.3d 826 (Ky. 2012). The Court of Appeals reversed, citing Shamrock. The Supreme Court reversed after overruling Shamrock, holding that the complaint in this case failed to satisfy the verification requirement of section 341.450(1). View "Kentucky Unemployment Insurance Commission v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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The failure of Terry Scott and Damon Fleming to appeal the denial of their respective grievances against the Kentucky State Police (KSP) by the Personnel Cabinet precluded their subsequent action filed in the circuit court. The trial court dismissed most of Scott’s and Fleming’s claims but nevertheless permitted the case to go forward. After a trial, the court held that Scott and Fleming had met their burden of showing a prima facie case of an equal protection violation, entitling them to equitable relief. The court of appeals affirmed, thus rejecting KSP’s argument that Scott and Fleming had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Scott’s and Fleming’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies barred their direct action in the circuit court. View "Kentucky State Police v. Scott" on Justia Law

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The administrative law judge (ALJ) in this case did not err in failing to give effect to a settlement agreement reached after the issuance of its order and opinion and raised in a petition to reconsider. This case arose from Appellant’s filing of a claim alleging work-related injuries against his employer. An ALJ issued an opinion and award denying Appellant permanent partial disability, permanent total disability, and future medical benefits. Appellant filed a petition for reconsideration based on a settlement reached prior to receipt of the opinion. The ALJ denied the petition. The Workers’ Compensation Board and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the alleged terms of the settlement were never properly brought before the ALJ, Appellant did not properly raise the issue, and the ALJ did not err in declining to review the agreement. View "Kidd v. Crossrock Drilling, LLC" 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 in this workers’ compensation case. Appellant suffered a work-related injury in 2007. After she returned to work, Appellant suffered a second work-related injury in 2011 that resulted in Appellant being found permanently totally disabled. At issue before the Supreme Court was the proper disposition of Appellant’s claim for benefits following her first injury. The Board remanded the matter to the administrative law judge, determining that the ALJ erred in concluding that Appellant had not claimed entitlement to permanent total disability benefits following her first injury. The Board remanded this case to the ALJ with specific instructions to first determine Appellant’s entitlement to permanent total disability benefits and, if she was not entitled to such benefits, to determine her permanent partial disability benefits using a proper analysis under Fawbush v. Gwinn, 103 S.W. 3d 5 (Ky. 2005). The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Court of Appeals did not err in its judgment. View "Blaine v. Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Inc." on Justia Law

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Steven Baytos settled his workers’ compensation injury claim with Family Dollar Stores, his employer. The settlement amount included separate consideration in exchange for Baytos’s waiver of all future claims. Two years after Baytos died from his work-related injury, Mamie Baytos, his widow who was not a party to the settlement, filed a motion to reopen Baytos’s injury claim to assert her own claim for a workers’ compensation death benefit. The administrative law judge allowed Mamie to reopen Baytos’s claim and awarded her death benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Board reversed, concluding that claims for death benefits arising from a workers’ compensation injury are not derivative of the income benefits the injured employee recovers from the employer. The Court of Appeals reversed the Board. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Mamie has a separate and viable claim for death benefits under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.750; and (2) it was improper for Mamie to assert her claim via reopening Baytos’s settled claim, although the court made an exception in today’s case. View "Family Dollar v. Baytos" on Justia Law

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An administrative law judge (ALJ) awarded Brandon Fleming partial disability benefits based on a finding that Fleming had a combined permanent impairment rating of seventeen percent. In 2010, Fleming moved to reopen his claim, alleging that his condition had worsened. A different ALJ found that Fleming had a combined permanent impairment rating of thirty-two percent. The Workers’ Compensation Board and court of appeals affirmed. LKLP CAC Inc. appealed, arguing that the ALJ’s opinion was not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ relied on a physician who stated that Fleming’s permanent impairment rating had not changed following the 2010 opinion and award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in the ALJ’s finding that Fleming had an increase in his permanent impairment rating, in his impairment, and in his disability. View "LKLP CAC Inc. v. Fleming" on Justia Law

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Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E) sought a permit authorizing it to discharge certain pollutants into the Ohio River in conjunction with the operation of its recently expended generating facility. The Commonwealth of Kentucky, Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Water issued the permit. The circuit court vacated the permit. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated LG&E’s permit, holding (1) in vacating the permit, the circuit court and Court of Appeals misapplied controlling federal law; and (2) the Cabinet’s determination that the LG&E permit should proceed under 40 C.F.R. 125.3(c)(1) was a reasonable interpretation of the regulation. View "Louisville Gas & Electric Co. v. Kentucky Waterways Alliance" on Justia Law