Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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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was not constrained by the procedural due process protections purportedly afforded to the deputy sheriff under a now-outdated version of Ky.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

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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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Plaintiff brought a claim under Ky. Rev. Stat. 337.385 and filed a motion under Ky. R. Civ. P. 23 to certify a class action in circuit court. The circuit court denied the motion on purely legal grounds. The Court of Appeals affirmed, ruling that section 337.385 does not authorize class actions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding, as a matter of law, that Rule 23 remains an available procedural mechanism applicable to Plaintiff’s cause of action brought under section 337.385. The court remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether Plaintiff’s class met the requirements set forth in Rule 23. View "McCann v. Sullivan University System, Inc." on Justia Law

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KESA, the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Fund, on behalf of its insureds, filed five separate medical fee disputes against the Injured Workers’ Pharmacy (IWP) and the insureds’ employees and former employees, all of whom had their prescriptions filled by IWP. The chief administrative law judge (CALJ) found (1) a pharmacy/pharmacist is a medical provider, which entitles an injured worker to choose where to have his or her prescriptions filled; (2) the pharmacy fee schedule is based on the amount a pharmacist pays a wholesaler for medication, and IWP is entitled to interest on any underpayment by KESA; and (3) because KESA brought its medical fee disputes without reasonable ground and without reasonable medical or factual foundation, KESA was required to pay the cost of the proceedings. The Workers’ Compensation Board reversed the award of costs but otherwise affirmed. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded, holding (1) the court of appeals did not err regarding the assessment of interest and sanctions or in concluding that a pharmacy is a medical provider; but (2) the remainder of the court of appeals opinion is vacated and remanded because the CALJ did not make a determination regarding the actual average wholesale price paid by IWP. View "Steel Creations by and through KESA, the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Fund v. Injured Workers’ Pharmacy" 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