Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' decision upholding an administrative law judge's (ALJ) award of benefits to Deborah Duckworth, holding that the ALJ had the authority to determine the manifestation date for cumulative trauma injury and properly applied controlling law to the facts of this case.On appeal, Ford Motor Company argued that the ALJ exceeded the scope of his authority in determining the manifestation dates of Duckworth's cumulative trauma injuries. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the ALJ had the authority to determine the manifestation date of Duckworth's cumulative trauma injury; and (2) Ford Motor Company was not deprived of due process because it had adequate notice and opportunity to be heard on the statute of limitations issue. View "Ford Motor Co. v. Duckworth" on Justia Law

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In this case heard after the Kentucky Medical Review Panel Act (MRPA), Ky. Rev. Stat. 216C.005 et seq., was declared to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court finding the complaint to be untimely and dismissing this case, holding that the complaint was timely as to the individual defendants.Plaintiffs filed a complaint against advanced Practice Registered Nurse Wynetta Fletcher, Dr. Amjad Bkhari, Dr. James Detherage under the MRPA. After the claims made their way through the medical review panel process, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against the same defendants and the entities that allegedly employed them. After Plaintiffs filed their complaint, the Supreme Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Claycomb, 566 S.W.3d 202 (Ky. 2018), wherein the Court declared the MRPA unconstitutional, was finalized. Thereafter, Defendants filed motions to dismiss, alleging that the claims were untimely and that Plaintiffs could not rely on the tolling provision of the MRPA to extend the deadline. The circuit court dismissed the suit as untimely. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Ky. Rev. Stat. 413.270 applied to Plaintiffs' claims; and (2) Plaintiffs' claims were timely filed under section 413.270 but saved only those claims that were filed with the medical review panel. View "Smith v. Fletcher" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals holding that the Department for Community Based Services, Cabinet for Health and Family Services (Cabinet) exceeded its statutory authority by investigating allegations that Rebecca Baker neglected children in her care, holding that the Cabinet did not meet its burden of proof to substantiate its allegations of neglect against Baker.Baker worked for an elementary school afterschool program supervising several young children. The Cabinet substantiated findings of neglect against Baker, and a hearing officer affirmed the Cabinet's findings of neglect. On appeal, the court of appeals sua sponte raised the issue of whether the Cabinet had the authority to investigate Baker and concluded that it did not. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Cabinet did not exceed its statutory authority by investigating the allegations against Baker; but (2) the Cabinet did not meet its burden of proof to substantiate the allegation of neglect by Baker. View "Department for Community Based Services v. Baker" on Justia Law

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In this dependency, abuse, and neglect proceeding, the Supreme Court held that Ky. Rev. Stat. 620.100(1)(b) does not entitle an indigent parent to state-funded expert assistance in dependency, neglect, and abuse (DNA) cases but that, under certain circumstances, parents are entitled to reasonably necessary expert assistance under the due process provisions of the Kentucky and United States Constitutions.The Cabinet for Health and Family Services filed DNA petitions on behalf of Parents' children based on risk of harm. The family court determined that Mother and Father were indigent, but when counsel for both parties requested funds to hire a medical expert the court denied the request. The court then found that Parents' three children were neglected or abused. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that section 620.100(1)(b) grants indigent parents a right to funding for reasonably necessary expert assistance. The Supreme Court reversed insofar as the court's holding relied on Ky. Rev. Stat. 620.100 but affirmed the court's reversal of the family court on constitutional grounds, holding that whether due process requires a court-appointed expert is best left to the judgment of the trial court. The Court remanded the case for new DNA proceedings with instructions for the family court to analyze the need for expert assistance prior to adjudication. View "Commonwealth, Cabinet For Health & Family Services v. K.S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals requiring Appellant to comply with a subpoena duces tecum issued to him by the Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet (Secretary), holding that the subpoena powers of the Secretary extend to suspected violations of Kentucky's Model Procurement Code (KMPC) and that the Secretary has the power to subpoena non-government employees as part of an investigation into a possible violation of the KMPC.The Secretary issued a subpoena to Frank Lassiter seeking information to assist in an investigation into whether certain government contracts complied with the KMPC. Lassiter refused to comply with the subpoena, arguing that the Secretary's authority to issue subpoenas under Ky. Rev. Stat. Chapter 45 did not extend to investigations into potential KMPC violations and, regardless, did not allow him to subpoena non-government employees. The circuit court denied the Secretary's motion to compel Lassiter's compliance, finding that the Secretary subpoena power did not apply to investigations into possible violations of the KMPC. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Secretary's subpoena power applies to investigations into possible violations of the KMPC. View "Lassiter v. Landrum" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals and Workers' Compensation Board affirming the determination of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (CALJ) denying Appellant's motion to reopen his workers' compensation claim as time barred, holding that the CALJ correctly denied Appellant's motion to reopen as untimely.In 1996 and 1997, Appellant incurred work-related injuries to his right and left shoulders. Income benefits were paid for his right shoulder injury, but no mention of the left shoulder injury appeared in the settlement agreement. In 2018, Appellant moved to reopen the left shoulder claim, asserting that he was entitled to income benefits based on a recent surgery and resulting increased impairment. The CALJ denied the motion. The Board and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's motion was untimely. View "Slaughter v. Tube Turns" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' opinion affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board, holding that Karen Woodall, the surviving spouse of an employee who died as a result of a workplace accident, was entitled to a statutory income benefit and that the time limitation as to the lump-sum benefit does not violate the United States and Kentucky constitutional guarantees of equal protection or Kentucky's prohibition against special legislation.Ten years after a workplace injury, Steven Spillman died as a result of a surgery required by that injury. Woodall, Spillman's surviving spouse, sought income benefits under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.750(1)(a), and Spillman's estate sought a lump-sum benefit under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.750(6). The Board found that Woodall was eligible for the surviving spouse income benefits but that the Estate was not entitled to the lump-sum death benefit. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 342.750(1)(a) contains no temporal limitation on Woodall's receipt of income benefits; and (2) the time limitation as to the lump-sum benefit is constitutional. View "Calloway County Sheriff's Department v. Woodall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision reversing the circuit court's order dismissing Property Owners' appeal from the decision of the Kenton County Board of Adjustment granting approval of a conditional use application to allow the operation of a nursery school in a residential zone, holding that Kentucky law requires that a party must claim to be "injured or aggrieved" to perfect an appeal to circuit court under Ky. Rev. Stat. 100.347(1).After the Board unanimously granted the conditional use application Property Owners filed an appeal, alleging that the Board's action was improper because it did not meet certain statutory requirements and the requirements of the Kenton County Zoning Ordinance. The circuit court dismissed the appeal, concluding that Property Owners failed to allege that they were injured or aggrieved by the final action of the Board, and therefore, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed, interpreting the "injured or aggrieved" language to be a standing requirement rather than a jurisdiction requirement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Property Owners failed to follow the appeal procedures in section 100.347(1) by not claiming in the complaint to be injured or aggrieved, and therefore, the circuit court appeals properly dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction. View "Kenton County Board of Adjustment v. Meitzen" on Justia Law

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In this case considering the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's regulations as applied to historical horse racing the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court determining that the Encore system constitutes a "pari-mutuel system of wagering," holding that the trial court misapplied the applicable regulation as a matter of law.The Commission, the Department of Revenue and several horse racing associations sought judicial approval for wagering on historical horse racing. The Family Foundation of Kentucky, Inc. was permitted to intervene and challenged both the validity of regulations and the premise that wagering on historical horse races was truly pari-mutuel wagering. The trial court concluded that the Encore system constituted a pari-mutuel system of wagering approved by the Commission. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Encore system does not create a wagering pool among patrons such that they are wagering among themselves, as required for pari-mutuel wagering. View "Family Trust Foundation of Kentucky, Inc. v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems denying Edward Elder's application for disability retirement benefits, holding that the circuit court and the court of appeals misinterpreted this Court's holding in Kentucky Retirement Systems v. West, 413 S.W.3d 578 (Ky. 2013).Elder applied for disability retirement benefits due to a genetic disorder. Systems denied benefits because Elder submitted no pre-employment medical records. In affirming Systems' denial of benefits, the circuit court read West to require submission of pre-employment medical records to prove a disabling condition was asymptomatic and reasonably undiscoverable prior to hiring. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court's reading of West and its denial of Elder's claim for disability retirement benefits. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that West imposed no requirement that a claimant submit pre-employment records to disprove the pre-existence of his genetic disorder. View "Elder v. Kentucky Retirement Systems" on Justia Law