REVIEW FROM COURT OF APPEALS CASE NO. 2014-CA-001053-WC
WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD NO. 06-WC-01247
COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT/ CROSS-APPELLEE: FAMILY DOLLAR Melanie
Brooke Gabbard Allen Kopet & Associates, PLLC Lewis
Paisley Stoll Keenon Ogden, PLLC.
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE/CROSS-APPELLANT: MAMIE BAYTOS Carl
Edward Grayson Blankenship Massey 8b Associates, PLLC.
COUNSEL FOR AMICUS CURIAE: KENTUCKY WORKERS ASSOCIATION
(KWA): Jeffery Roberts Roberts Law Office.
Baytos settled his workers' compensation injury claim
with his employer, Family Dollar Stores, for a lump sum. The
settlement amount included separate consideration in exchange
for Baytos's waiver of all future claims, specifically
including future medical expenses and a "full and final
waiver of any and all rights he may have to reopen this claim
under Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 342.125, for any reason,
including a change in condition." Baytos died a year
later from his work-related injury; and, two years after
that, his widow, Mamie Baytos, who was not a party to the
settlement, filed a motion to reopen Baytos's injury
claim to assert her own claim for a workers' compensation
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) allowed Mamie to reopen
Baytos's injury claim and awarded her death benefits. The
Board reversed, and the Court of Appeals reversed the Board.
The Court of Appeals determined that, under Brashear v.
Old Straight Creek Coal Corp.,  claims for death benefits
arising from a workers' compensation injury are not
derivative of the income benefits the injured employee
recovers from the employer. And as such, the Board's
opinion was vacated and remanded for further proceedings.
Family Dollar's appeal to this Court, we agree with the
Court of Appeals that Mamie has a separate and viable claim
for death benefits under KRS 342.750, and while we make an
exception in today's case, we hold that it was improper
for Mamie to assert her claim via reopening Baytos's
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
was employed by Family Dollar Stores when he suffered a torn
thoracic aorta in 2006. He filed a claim for workers'
compensation benefits that was settled and approved by an
Administrative Law Judge (AU) in 2008. Steven received a
lump-sum payment from Family Dollar in exchange for his
waiver of any future claims he may have against his employer.
Also part of the settlement agreement, Steven agreed to
additional sums in exchange for waiver of any future medical
expenses and another sum in consideration for his "full
and final waiver of any and all rights he may have to reopen
this claim under KRS 342.125, for any reason, including a
change in condition." His wife, Mamie Baytos', was
not part of the settlement negotiations, nor did the final
approved agreement include any references to any future
benefits to which she may be entitled.
died in 2009 as a result of his work-related injury. In 2011,
Mamie filed a "Motion to Reopen and Award Survivor
Benefits to Widow" to seek death benefits. The presiding
AU ruled that her claim was viable, but ordered her to prove
Baytos's death was caused by a work-related injury in
order to recover death benefits under KRS 342.750. Shortly
thereafter, her case was transferred to a new AU, who
accepted the prior AU's findings of fact and determined
that Steven's death was a result of the injury. And so
the AU awarded death benefits to Mamie.
Dollar appealed the decision to the Workers' Compensation
Board. The employer argued that Mamie's claims for death
benefits were barred by the settlement agreement between
Baytos and Family Dollar. In turn, Mamie filed a motion to
dismiss the appeal, claiming that notice of the appeal was
defective. The Board ignored Mamie's motion to dismiss
and reversed the ALJ's ruling on the merits, denying her
claim for benefits. Baytos appealed the decision to the Court
Court of Appeals reversed the Board's decision. First,
the panel rejected Mamie's argument that Family
Dollar's appeal was improperly noticed. But on the
merits, the Court of Appeals determined that under
Brashear v. Old Straight Creek Coal Corp. claims for
death benefits arising from a workers' compensation
injury are not derivative of the income benefits the injured
employee recovers from his employer. And as such, the
Board's opinion was vacated and remanded for further
proceedings. Family Dollar now appeals to this Court.
Family Dollar's Notice of Appeal was Properly
contends that the Board erred by not dismissing Family
Dollar's appeal following the ALJ's findings of fact.
During the pendency of her claim, the presiding AU retired
and was replaced by a new ALJ. She argues that the notice of
appeal was defective because it named the incorrect AU. The
Court of Appeals disagreed and determined that Family
Dollar's appeal was properly noticed. And we concur.
2012, Family Dollar appealed to the Board following ALJ
Joiner's opinion and order on the viability of her claim.
The Board dismissed the appeal as interlocutory. Shortly
thereafter, ALJ Joiner was replaced by ALJ Polites, who
eventually issued a final and appealable order and opinion in
favor of Mamie's claims. Mamie claims that Family Dollar
referenced the incorrect ALJ opinion when noticing its appeal
to the Board.
Dollar's notice of appeal began as follows:
[Family Dollar] requests a review by the Workers'
Compensation Board of the opinion and award rendered herein
by Honorable Richard Joiner, Administrative Law Judge, on
June 19, 2012. The order on the petition for reconsideration
was entered on July 10, 2012. This appeal was originally
filed in August 2012 and was dismissed given the
interlocutory nature of the underlying proceedings.
On February 4, 2014, Hon. Tom Polites, ALJ rendered a
decision in this claim which now makes the 2012 decision by
Judge Joiner final and appealable.
Mamie argues that because Family Dollar stated its desire to
review the "opinion and award rendered herein by
Honorable Richard Joiner, " the employer failed to
notice an ...