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Crittenden County Fiscal Court v. Hodge

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

November 22, 2019

CRITTENDEN COUNTY FISCAL COURT APPELLANT
v.
SAM HODGE; HONORABLE JEFF V. LAYSON, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE; AND WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD APPELLEES

          PETITION FOR REVIEW OF A DECISION OF THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD ACTION NO. WC-13-64261

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: J. Christopher Hopgood

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE SAM HODGE: Geordie Garatt

          BEFORE: COMBS, LAMBERT AND K. THOMPSON, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          THOMPSON, K., JUDGE:

         Crittenden County Fiscal Court appeals from the award of permanent total disability benefits to Sam Hodge for an unlimited duration by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) as affirmed by the Workers' Compensation Board. Given the Kentucky Supreme Court's decision in Holcim v. Swinford, 581 S.W.3d 37, 44 (Ky. 2019), that the time limits set out in the 2018 amendment to Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 342.730(4), which limits the duration of benefits to workers who were injured after they reached the age of seventy years or older to four years, are to be applied retroactively, we regretfully reverse and remand.

         Hodge was working for Crittenden County Road Department on October 11, 2013, when his truck overturned, injuring his back. At the time of the accident, Hodge was within two months of being seventy-six years old.

         Hodge's claim was not heard by the ALJ until 2018, and the opinion, award and order was not entered until February 26, 2018. The ALJ determined Hodge was entitled to permanent total disability benefits, finding "that the duration of the benefits awarded to [Hodge] shall be for so long as he is totally disabled[.]"

         Crittenden County Fiscal Court filed a motion for reconsideration. The ALJ denied the motion for reconsideration and Crittenden County Fiscal Court appealed.

         Meanwhile, House Bill 2 was approved on March 30, 2018, but would not become effective until July 14, 2018. 2018 Ky. Acts Ch. 40 (HB 2).

         In Section 13(4), House Bill 2 amended KRS 342.730(4) to read in relevant part: "All income benefits payable pursuant to this chapter shall terminate as of the date upon which the employee reaches the age of seventy (70), or four (4) years after the employee's injury or last exposure, whichever last occurs."

         In Section 20(3), it provided:

Subsection (4) of Section 13 of this Act [KRS 342.730(4)] shall apply prospectively and ...

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