Released for Publication June 4, 2015.
ON APPEAL FROM COURT OF APPEALS. CASE NO. 2014-CA-000191-WC. WORKERS' COMPENSATION NO. 06-69845.
COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT, GARDENS GLEN FARM: James Gordon Fogle, Johanna Frantz Ellison.
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE, BETHANY TAYLOR BALDERAS: Daniel Edward Moriarty.
Appellant, Gardens Glen Farm, filed this appeal from a Court of Appeals decision to contest the Administrative Law Judge's (" ALJ" ) calculation of a credit for money paid to Appellee, Bethany Balderas, pursuant to a settlement. Gardens Glen argues that the ALJ erred by refusing to give it a dollar for dollar credit based on the lump sum settlement it entered into with Balderas. For the below stated reasons, we affirm the Court of Appeals.
Balderas was injured when a horse she was exercising at Gardens Glen rolled over on her. Balderas sustained two fractured vertebra and underwent fusion surgery. She later returned to work. Balderas negotiated a lump sum settlement of $100,000 with Gardens Glen, which reflected a 29% impairment rating and a return to work factor of 1.5509453.
Several years later, Balderas filed a motion to reopen alleging a worsening of her occupational disability. The motion was sustained. The ALJ determined that Balderas met her burden of proof to show a worsening of her condition based on objective medical evidence. The ALJ found that the proper return to work factor at the time of the original award was one. She then found that Balderas's whole body impairment at the time of her settlement was 29% and that it rose to 30% at the time of reopening. The ALJ also found that Balderas was entitled to the three multiplier, pursuant to KRS 342.730(1)(c), on reopening because she was no longer able to work as an exercise rider. The ALJ made the following calculations:
To determine the value on reopening when the original claim was resolved by settlement agreement, the ALJ is required to determine the value of the claim at the time of settlement as well as the current value. [Balderas] is entitled [to] the difference, with permanent partial disability benefits to be paid at the rate of $460.86 per week beginning August 19, 2011 and continuing thereafter for the remainder of the 425 week period per the original settlement agreement, with [Gardens Glen Farm] taking credit for the value of benefits of the original claim, calculated as follows:
Value of original claim at the time of settlement:
$460.86 x .29 x 1.35 x 1 = 180.42
Calculation on reopening:
$460.86 x .30 x 1.35 x 3 = 559.94 -> 460.86 (max)
[Gardens Glen Farm], therefore, is entitled to a credit of $180.42 per week with the remaining difference due and owing to ...