Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board affirming the ALJ's determination that Appellant was not entitled to benefits pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342 in connection with his injury while working as a bus driver for Transit Authority of River City (TARC), holding that the ALJ's decision denying Appellant benefits was supported by substantial evidence. While operating a TARC bus Appellant was assaulted by a passenger, resulting in injuries. TARC denied Appellant's claim for benefits pursuant to the special defense provided in Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.610(3), asserting that Appellant was the aggressor in the altercation and that he acted outside of the scope of his employment. After reviewing the evidence, the ALJ denied Appellant benefits. The Board and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the ALJ's determination to deny benefits. View "Trevino v. Transit Authority of River City" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court that the agreement furnished to Carol Greissman for signature did not violate Kentucky Rules of the Supreme Court 3.130, Rule 5.6 as a matter of law, holding that an obligatory Rule of Professional Conduct for attorneys carries public policy weight and that the agreement did not violate Rule 5.6. Greissman, an attorney, was terminated by Rawlings & Associates for refusing to sign an agreement providing for non-solicitation of Rawlings & Associates' customers or clients following the end of her employment. Greissman subsequently brought a wrongful termination claim. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Rawlings & Associates. The court of appeals upheld the circuit court's ultimate decision dismissing Greissman's complaint but concluded that Greissman's complaint should have been dismissed for failure to state a claim because the Rules of the Kentucky Supreme Court did not provide the public policy to support Greissman's wrongful termination claim. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, holding (1) for purposes of wrongful termination actions, an obligatory Rule of Professional Conduct for attorneys carries equal public policy weight as any public policy set forth in statute or the Constitution; and (2) the agreement in this case did not violate Rule 5.6. View "Greissman v. Rawlings & Associates, PLLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board (Board) affirming the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) denial of Appellant’s claim for benefits pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342, holding that the ALJ’s decision denying Appellant benefits was supported by substantial evidence. Appellant was injured while working as a bus driver for Transit Authority of River City (TARC). TARC denied Appellant’s claim for benefits pursuant to the special defense provided in Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.610(3). TARC argued that Appellant’s injuries was the result of Appellant acting as the aggressor in an altercation with a passenger and that Appellant acted outside the scope of his employment. The ALJ denied benefits pursuant to section 341.610(3). The Board and the court of appeals determined that there was substantial evidence supporting the ALJ’s determination to deny benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ did not err in denying benefits. View "Trevino v. Transit Authority of River City" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals upholding the circuit court’s approval of Ray Thomas’s future periodic payments to DRB Capital, LLC in exchange for an immediate lump sum payment at a discounted rate after Thomas settled a workers’ compensation claim against his employer and its workers’ compensation insurer, holding that the underlying contracts’ anti-assignment clauses are enforceable and that the Kentucky Structured Settlement Protection Act (KSSPA) does not apply to workers’ compensation settlements. Less than six months after settling his claim, Thomas received the circuit court’s transfer approval. The circuit court approved the transfer pursuant to the KSSPA. The court of appeals upheld the circuit court’s approval. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that explicit anti-assignability clauses in the underlying contracts and statutory language limiting the KSSPA to tort settlements required reversal in this case. View "American General Life Insurance Co. v. DRB Capital, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing constitutional challenges to the validity of the Kentucky Right to Work Act, 2017 Ky. Acts ch. 1, 15, holding that the trial court did not err. In 2017, the Kentucky legislature passed, and the Governor signed, the Act. The Act amended Ky. Rev. Stat. 336.130(3) to provide that no employee is required to become, or remain, a member of a labor organization, or to pay dues, fees, or assessments to a labor organization. Plaintiff-unions filed an action challenging the Act on several Kentucky constitutional grounds. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed that the Act violated the Kentucky Constitution’s provisions requiring equal protection of the laws, prohibiting special legislation, and prohibiting takings without compensation and that the Act was improperly designated as emergency legislation. The trial court granted the Commonwealth’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Unions’ constitutional challenges to the Act were without merit. View "Zuckerman v. Bevin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court, after a jury trial, in favor of Appellant on her claim that she was wrongfully terminated from her employment with the University of Louisville in violation of the Kentucky Whistleblower Act (KWA), Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.101-61.103, holding that the evidence at trial was sufficient to support the judgment entered upon the jury’s verdict. After a jury trial, Appellant was awarded damages in the form of back pay and mental anguish, but the trial court denied Appellant’s claim for front pay. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s verdict on whistleblower liability. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, contrary to the opinion of the court of appeals, the evidence supported the verdict of the jury in finding liability against the University. View "Harper v. University of Louisville" on Justia Law

by
At issue was the role of the courts on judicial review of a final decision of the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KERS) as to a KERS member’s entitlement to disability retirement. A hearing officer recommended granting Plaintiff’s disability benefits application. The Board of Trustees of KERS (Board) denied Plaintiff’s application for disability benefits. The trial court affirmed the Board’s final order. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that substantial evidence compelled a finding in favor of Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the KERS Board’s final decision must be supported by substantial evidence; (2) the standard set forth in McManus v. Ky. Retirement Systems, 124 S.W.3d 454, 458 (Ky. App. 2003), in conjunction with Ky. Rev. Stat. 13B.150, provides the proper standard for judicial review of KERS disability retirement decisions; (3) the hearing officer’s credibility determinations are not binding on the Board; and (4) substantial evidence supported the Board’s decision in this case, and the evidence in favor of Plaintiff was not so compelling that no reasonable person could have failed to be persuaded by it. View "Kentucky Retirement Systems v. Ashcraft" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that Plaintiff failed to meet the standard for judicial reversal of the Kentucky Retirement System (KERS) Board’s administrative decision to deny Plaintiff disability retirement benefits and thus affirmed the denial of benefits. The Board denied Plaintiff, a member of KERS, disability retirement benefits. The circuit court reversed on judicial review. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for reinstatement of the Board’s final decision denying Plaintiff’s claim, holding that the standard for judicial reversal of the Board’s decision was not met. On discretionary review, Plaintiff challenged the standard of judicial review set forth in McManus v. Kentucky Retirement Systems, 124 S.W. 3d 454 (Ky. App. 2003), and expressly adopted by the Supreme Court in Kentucky Retirement Systems v. Brown, 336 S.W.3d 8 (Ky. 2011). The Supreme Court held (1) the McManus standard remains proper; and (2) Plaintiff did not meet the standard for judicial reversal of the Board’s administrative decision. View "Bradley v. Kentucky Retirement Systems" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the Workers’ Compensation Board’s decision affirming the decision of the administrative law judge concluding that Katherine Rudd was entitled to the two-multiplier under under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.730(1)(c)(2), holding that a workers’ compensation claimant is entitled to the two-multiplier when that individual voluntarily chooses to retire. At issue was whether the two-multiplier under section 342.730(1)(c)(2) applies to a claimant’s benefits when the claimant returns to work and later retires for reasons not solely related to the work-related injury itself. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment below, holding that, under the circumstances presented in this case, the two-multiplier must be applied to comply with the unambiguous language of the statute. View "Active Care Chiropractic, Inc. v. Rudd" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals concluding that the Kentucky Coal Employers Self-Insurers Guaranty Fund was fully responsible for McCoy Elkhorn Coal Corporation’s workers’ compensation liabilities, including a thirty percent enhancement arising from the employer’s safety violations. Farley Sargent II was fatally injured while working in a mine. The decedent’s statutory beneficiaries settled their workers’ compensation claims with his employer, McCoy Elkhorn, leaving a bifurcated issue regarding enhanced benefits. The administrative law judge concluded that the decedent’s survivors and estate were entitled to the thirty percent increase of workers’ compensation payments that would otherwise be if the accident was caused by the employer’s failure to comply with statutes or regulations regarding workplace safety. See Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.165(1). At issue before the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court was whether the Guaranty Fund, which assumed the obligations of McCoy Elkhorn, its insolvent member, could be held responsible for the thirty percent enhancement. The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals correctly concluded that the Guaranty Fund was fully responsible for McCoy Elkhorn’s workers’ compensation liabilities. View "McCoy Elkhorn Coal Corp. v. Sargent" on Justia Law