WORKERS COMP – KRS 342.703(1)(C)(2) reopening for cessation of emploment must relate to injury: Chrysalis House, Inc. v. Keith Tackett; Hon. Grant Roark, ALJ; & Workers’ Compensation Board (SC 3/19/2009)

Chrysalis House, Inc. v. Keith Tackett; Hon. Grant Roark, ALJ; & Workers’ Compensation Board
2008-SC-000221-WC March 19, 2009

Opinion of the Court; Justice Noble not sitting.

Tackett suffered a job-related injury subsequently returned to work after being awarded income benefits of $38.87 per week. Tackett later sought to reopen the case in order to receive double benefits pursuant to KRS 342.730(1)(c)2, asserting that his employment with Chrysalis House had ceased and he now earned five dollars per hour less than he did at the time of his injury. The employer argued that Tackett was not entitled to an increased benefit because he was discharged for cause, namely theft. The ALJ awarded the 7 increased benefit on the ground that the statute states the benefit is to be doubled in the event of cessation of employment “for any reason, with or without cause.”

The Supreme Court reversed, noting that while at first blush the statute requires an increase regardless of the reason for cessation of employment, when 342.730 is read as a whole, it provides that the cessation of employment must relate to the disabling injury. The Court remanded back to the ALJ for a determination whether employment ceased for reasons related to Tackett’s injury.

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