Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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Class action is available to plaintiffs seeking recovery under the State’s prevailing-wage law, Ky. Rev. Stat. 337.505-550, and the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the underlying action for backpay and statutory damages under the prevailing-wage law as a class action. A group of plaintiffs, claiming for themselves and for other similarly situated, brought the underlying action to recover backpay and statutory damages as authorized by section 337.505-550, asserting that they were not paid prevailing wages, benefits, or overtime in connection with their employment as truck drivers. The trial court granted Plaintiffs’ motion to certify this action as a class action under Ky. R. Civ. P. 23. The court of appeals vacated the class-action certification order, concluding that Plaintiffs had failed to establish commonality, one of the prerequisites to support a class action. In a separate concurring opinion, the judge argued that section 337.550(2) does not permit class action suits at all. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) class-action lawsuits are allowed under section 337.550(2); and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when certifying the class in this case. View "Hensley v. Haynes Trucking, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals determining that Appellant, Auslander Properties, LLC, was an “employer” and thus subject to certain employee safety regulations promulgated pursuant to the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Act (KOSHA), Ky. Rev. Stat. 338, and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., and that Appellant had violated duties owed to Appellee, Joseph Herman Nalley, under KOSHA. The trial court awarded Nalley compensatory damages for serious personal injuries he sustained while working on a roof at property owned by Appellant. The Supreme Court remanded the case for dismissal of Nalley’s claim, holding (1) contrary to Nalley’s argument, Appellant properly appealed the denial of summary judgment seeking reversal of the trial court judgment; and (2) Appellant was entitled to dismissal of the negligence per se claim because Nalley was an independent contractor rather than an employee of the LLC, and the responsibility for complying with safety laws applicable to the specialized work Nalley was performing at the time of his injury was upon Nalley. View "Auslander Properties, LLC v. Nalley" 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 upholding the decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ), which awarded Michael R. Plumley permanent partial disability benefits. On appeal, the Court held that the ALJ did not err (1) by relying upon the medical report of Dr. Greg Snider, who evaluated Plumley under the range-of-motion method and used terminology different from that which Plumley would use to describe essentially the same condition; (2) by finding that Plumley had three distinct work-related injuries, for each of which the ALJ made three tandem benefit awards rather than a single-injury with a single-benefit award; and (3) in his use of modifier multipliers. View "Plumley v. Kroger, Inc." 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 (Board) affirming the decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ) awarding Donald Jobe benefits regarding his back. Jobe, an employee of Ford Motor Company, suffered a right hip injury stemming from a work-related accident. Jobe applied for workers’ compensation benefits, asserting that he sustained a low back impairment due to the hip injury. The ALJ found that Jobe’s work-related hip injury was a proximate cause of his low back impairment and awarded Jobe benefits for a fourteen percent permanent partial disability, temporary total disability benefits for the periods he was off work due to his back impairment, and medical benefits. The Board affirmed, concluding that the ALJ had substantial evidence to support his finding that Jobe’s low back impairment had a causal connection to the work-related injury. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ based his decision that Jobe’s back impairment was work-related on substantial evidence. View "Ford Motor Co. v. Jobe" on Justia Law

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The administrative law judge’s (ALJ) findings that Appellant was exposed to MOCA, a curing agent and a known carcinogen, at a TEMA Isenmann, Inc. production facility and that this exposure resulted in an occupational disease were supported by substantial evidence. Appellant worked for TEMA Isenmann, Inc. When he was diagnosed and treated for bladder cancer, he sought permanent total disability benefits based upon his assertion that his cancer amounted to an occupational disease. On remand for the second time from the Workers’ Compensation Board, the ALJ awarded Appellant the benefits sought. The Board affirmed the ALJ. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding that the ALJ’s award was based upon substantial evidence. View "Miller v. TEMA Isenmann, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this case, a sheriff’s termination of a deputy sheriff was not constrained by the procedural due process protections purportedly afforded to the deputy sheriff under a now-outdated version of Ky. Rev. Stat. 15.520. Plaintiff, the deputy sheriff, sued the sheriff, alleging that the sheriff violated the due process procedures set forth in section 15.520, otherwise known as the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights. The trial court granted summary judgment for the sheriff. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that section 15.520 mandates that a sheriff who, like the sheriff in this case, elects to receive Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program funding is bound by the due process procedures of that statute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 15.520 was not meant to provide due process rights to sheriffs’ deputies. View "Elliott v. Lanham" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals reversing the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board (Board), which reversed the ALJ’s rejection of Plaintiff’s claim for enhanced benefits and reinstated the judgment of the ALJ. Plaintiff, an employee of VanMeter Contracting, Inc., was critically injured in a workplace accident. After an investigation, the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Administration (KOSHA) issued a citation against VanMeter, charging it with violating 29 CFR 1926.703(a)(1). Plaintiff filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and asserted a claim for a thirty percent benefit enhancement provided by Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.165(1) for the workplace injury. Plaintiff alleged the same regulatory violations asserted by KOSHA and a violation of the general workplace safety duty of Ky. Rev. Stat. 338.031(1)(a). The ALJ declined to grant the thirty percent enhancement, finding that Plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to prove the intentional violation of any safety statute or regulation. The Board reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed the Board. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board misconstrued or overlooked controlling law when, in contradiction of the ALJ’s findings, it accorded conclusive weight to the KOSHA settlement agreement. View "Groce v. Vanmeter Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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A plaintiff may bring a private right of action under Ky. Rev. Stat. 446.070 against an employer for an alleged violation of Ky. Rev. Stat. 341.990(6)(a), Kentucky’s criminal prohibition against making false statements during unemployment proceedings. Plaintiff brought suit against Employer, alleging that he suffered damages due to being temporarily deprived of his unemployment benefits. Employer’s successor-in-interest, the real party-in-interest, removed the case to federal court and moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s section 446.070 claim for failure to state a cognizable legal claim. The federal court denied the motion to dismiss and requested certification of law from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the question as set forth above and held that Plaintiff’s section 446.070 claim for an alleged violation of section 341.990(6)(a) was cognizable under Kentucky law. View "Hickey v. General Electric Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the lower courts in this action brought by Janet Cropper against her former employers - the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, Saint Augustine School, and the pastor of the Saint Augustine Church (collectively, Saint Augustine) - claiming damages for, inter alia, breach of her employment contract, holding that the trial court and court of appeals did not err when they ruled that Cropper was not barred from asserting her breach of contract claim. The trial court ruled that Cropper’s claims were not barred by the ecclesiastical-abstention doctrine but ultimately ruled that, as a matter of law, Cropper could not show a breach of her employment contract. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s determination that Cropper could not prove a breach of contract. The Supreme Court affirmed the result reached by the court of appeals and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine did not apply to the facts of this case. View "Saint Augustine School v. Cropper" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals, which affirmed the decisions of the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) holding that Kathy Prichard was entitled to reopen her workplace injury claim almost seven years after her initial award of workers’ compensation benefits but within four years of a subsequent order granting her additional disability benefits. The court held (1) Prichard’s motion to reopen was timely filed within the four-year limitation period contained in Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.125(3); and (2) Prichard demonstrated through objective medical evidence a change in her disability indicating a worsening of her impairment, as required for reopening a claim under section 342.125(1)(d). View "Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Prichard" on Justia Law