RICHARD CROTZER V. CWI, ET AL.Annotate this Case
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RENDERED : MARCH 24, 2011
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ON APPEAL FROM COURT OF APPEALS
CASE NO. 2009-CA-000616-WC
WORKERS'COMPENSATION BOARD NO . 06-79836
HONORABLE R. SCOTT BORDERS,
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE; AND
WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD
MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT
An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) awarded the claimant a double
income benefit under KRS 342
.The Workers' Compensation Board
affirmed, but the Court of Appeals reversed based on the decision in Chrysalis
House, Inc. v. Tackettl and remanded for the ALJ to determine whether the
cessation of employment at the same or a greater wage was related to the
claimant's injury. Appealing, the claimant asserts that the rules of statutory
interpretation require Chrysalis House to be overruled or limited to its facts.
We disagree and affirm.
1 283 S .W.3d 671 (Ky. 2009).
The claimant was born in 1944 and had an eighth-grade education with
no specialized or vocational training. He worked for the defendant-employer as
a mechanic and injured his right middle finger on May 2, 2006, while changing
brakes on a truck. After undergoing a surgical procedure and period of
temporary total disability, he returned to work at the same or a greater wage
than he earned at the time of the injury. He testified that he had intended to
work to age 65 but accepted a voluntary lay-off several months later in order to
spare the job of a younger co-worker who had a family to support. He then
retired and began to draw,Social Security retirement benefits.
The contested issues included the extent and duration of disability,
particularly the claimant's entitlement to double income benefits under KRS
342 .730(1)(c)2 . Arguments raised in the employer's brief also included a
challenge to the constitutionality of the statute as applied to a cessation of
employment that is unrelated to the injury being compensated . Deferring
judgment on the constitutional question to the courts, the ALJ determined that
the statute entitled the claimant to double benefits and awarded them .
The employer appealed, continuing to assert that KRS 342
violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution and Sections 2 and 3 of the Kentucky Constitution because it was
arbitrary and violated the guarantees of due process and equal protection. The
employer argued that the statute was overbroad when interpreted literally and
that its application must be limited to a cessation of employment that results
from the work-related injury . The Board affirmed, noting that it lacked
jurisdiction to address the matter . 2
The employer abandoned its constitutional argument before the Court of
Appeals and relied on Chrysalis House, which was rendered shortly after the
Board's decision and rendered the argument moot. The claimant appeals a
decision by the Court of Appeals to reverse and remand to the ALJ to determine
whether the cessation of employment was related to his disabling injury. His
arguments lack merit.
We determined in Chrysalis House3 that subsection (c)2 of KRS
342.730(1) is unambiguous but must be considered in the context of the entire
provision, which authorizes benefits for "disability" that results from a workrelated injury. Having considered the subsection in context, we concluded that
it permits double benefits during a cessation of employment at the same or a
greater wage "for any reason with or without cause" that relates to the
disabling injury. 4 We complied with the rules of statutory construction when
doing so . 5
In Hogston v. Bell South Telecommunications 6 we considered and rejected
an invitation to overrule or limit Chrysalis House to its facts. The result in
2 Blue Diamond Coal Co. v. Comett, 300 Ky. 647, 189 S.W.2d 963 (1945) .
3 283 S.W.3d at 674.
5 Combs v. Hubb Coal Corp., 934 S.W.2d 250, 252-53 (Ky. 1996) ; Manies v. Croan, 977
S.W.2d 22, 23 (Ky. App. 1998) (Courts "construe statutes within their context and
strive to give consistent meaning to related statutory provisions") .
6 325 S.W. 3d 314 (Ky. 2010).
Hogston disproves the claimant's argument that our construction of KRS
342 .730(1)(c)2 "in effect eliminates the 2 multiplier from ever applying" as does
Chrysalis House itselL 7 ,
Contrary to what the claimant asserts, a worker who returns to work at
the same or a greater wage but ceases to do so for reasons related to his injury
will not always be entitled to reopen and obtain triple benefits under KRS
342 .730(1)(c)1 . We explained in Chrysalis House 8 that a purpose of subsection
(1)(c)2 was to discourage an employer from continuing to employ an injured
worker in order to secure a partial rather than total disability award or a
double rather than triple benefit and then terminating the worker, at which
point the worker would be required to show a worsening of impairment in order
to reopen . The worker would also be subject to KRS 342.125's time limitations
We acknowledge that the claimant appears to have committed a good
deed and regret that he suffers for doing so. The fact remains, however, that
Chapter 342 and KRS 342 .730(1) compensate workers for disability resulting
from work-related injuries . KRS 342.730(1)(c)2 entitles him to a double benefit
if his present cessation of employment is related to his disabling injury. If the
ALJ determines that it is not related to his injury, it is not compensable .
The decision of the Court of Appeals is affirmed .
All sitting. All concur.
We remanded in Chrysalis House for the ALJ to determine whether employment at
the same or a greater wage ceased for reasons related to the disabling injury .
8 283 S.W.3d at 674-75.
COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT,
P .O. Box 1023
509 Main Street
Murray, KY 42071
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE,
Lynch, Cox, Gilman 81 Goodman, PSCC
500 West Jefferson Street
Louisville, KY 40202