Schmidt v. South Central Bell: Back to the future

Schmidt v. South Central Bell, No. 2010-CA-000986-WC (Ky. App. 2011).  The statutory amendments removing the medical expenses cap in place under KRS 342.020 as enacted in 1962 were remedial, rendering the amendments retroactive.

In Schmidt, a to-be-published Kentucky Court of Appeals decision, claimant was injured at a time when KRS 342.020 imposed a $3,500 cap on the amount of medical expenses an employer was required to pay in a workers’ compensation claim.  The cap was later removed by subsequent legislative amendments. 

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Schmidt’s employer later raised the cap as a defense in the context of a medical fee dispute, arguing the amendments were not retroactive and Schmidt’s medical expenses remained subject to the cap in effect at the time of his injury.  In a unanimous decision, the Court found against the employer, concluding the subsequent amendments to KRS 342.020 were retroactive in nature because they were remedial in that they expanded an existing remedy without affecting the substantive basis, prerequisites or circumstances precipitating the remedy and did not create new nor deny vested rights.

COMMENT:  This was the proper result.  The case, in and of itself, contains an instructive discussion of when a statute is considered retroactive.  The Court relied heavily on its holding in the earlier decision of Kentucky Insurance Guaranty Association v. Conco, Inc., 882 S.W.2d 129 (Ky. App. 1994).

This post can also be found at LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation Law Community Powered by Larson’s.

By |2011-06-29T13:29:30+00:00June 29th, 2011|