Vision Mining, Inc. v. GardnerAnnotate this Case
Appellants had worked for thirty-seven and thirty-four years, respectively, in underground coal mines. The Workers' Compensation Board affirmed decisions to dismiss both Appellants' applications for benefits because the "consensus readings" of their X-rays interpreted them to be negative for coal workers' pneumoconiosis. On review, two separate court of appeals' panels held that the "consensus procedure" required by Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.316 for proving the existence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis and the clear and convincing standard the statute required to rebut such a consensus were unconstitutional because such provisions denied the claimants and other workers who suffered from coal workers' pneumoconiosis equal protection under the law by placing a more stringent burden of proof on them than those who suffered from pneumoconiosis from other sources. The Supreme Court consolidated the cases and affirmed, concluding that there was no rational basis or substantial and justifiable reason for the disparate treatment of coal workers in this instance, and the arbitrary distinction requiring coal workers to meet a higher standard of proof in pneumoconiosis cases than other workers violated the equal protection guarantees of the federal and state constitutions.