In January of 2010, the Kentucky Court of Appeals decided a case involving a woman and determining if she qualified for disability retirement benefits due to a work related accident. (See Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems v. Davis, 2010 WL 199563 (Ky. App.)). The Plaintiff in this case injured herself while at work in a very serious car accident. Id. As a result of the car accident, the Plaintiff, who is 55, suffered a fractured pelvis, three fractured ribs, a punctured lung, a lacerated spleen and a bulging disc with neuropathy. Id. Plaintiff felt that after this very serious car accident that she was not able to continue working for the Kentucky River District Health Department as they were unable to provide accommodations to her to allow her to continue with her job. Id. Accordingly, Plaintiff applied for duty related disability benefits under KRS 61.621. Id.
The hearing officer granted Plaintiff the benefits, then the Disability Appeals Committee rejected that finding so Plaintiff appealed to the Franklin Circuit Court and that Court reversed the Committee’s decision. Now the Kentucky Court of Appeals had to decide who was right. This Court held that the Franklin Circuit Court was correct and allowed Plaintiff to receive her disability benefits. The reasoning is as follows.
“When a court reviews an agency’s final order, the court may only overturn the agency’s decision if the agency acted arbitrarily or outside its scope, if the agency applied an incorrect rule of law, or if the decision itself is not supported by substantial evidence on the record.” (cite omitted). Id. The Court held that the “issue here involves whether substantial evidence exists on the record to establish that Davis has become “totally and permanently disabled to engage in any occupation for remuneration or profits as a result of a duty-related injury.” (cite omitted). Id.
The Court held that the injuries were supported by substantial evidence. Her primary doctor restricted her from prolonged sitting or standing or lifting more than ten pounds. The Committee tried to say that she could return to “sedentary” employment. But, this Court found that Plaintiff’s injuries were very stringent and she had permanent restrictions to her activities that are inconsistent with “sedentary work” as defined in KRS 61.600. Id.
“Undoubtedly, the purpose of the Fred Capps Memorial Act is to provide benefits to state employees who are unable to engage in gainful employment after sustaining a traumatic injury during the performance of these job duties.” Id. The Fred Capps Memorial Act is KRS 61.621 the very section Plaintiff was seeking disability benefits from. Plaintiff had very serious restrictions that the Board did not consider. She was unable to do sedentary work as it is defined. Accordingly, the Court held that the lower court’s ruling was proper as the Board’s order was unsupported by substantial evidence.
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