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Unpublished Paper
Rational basis with a vengeance in Kentucky - workers compensation offsets in Parker v Webster Co. Coal
(2017)
  • Mel Cousins
Abstract
In Parker v Webster Co. Coal the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned long-standing precedent to find a workers compensation offset rule (KRS 342.730(4) to be unconstitutional and in breach of both the equal protection provision of the Federal and State Constitutions and to be a ‘special law’ contrary to Section 59 of the Kentucky Constitution. The issue of offsets is one of the most litigated issues of constitutional law as it applies to workers compensation. In recent years a number of State supreme courts have ruled on this issue, some upholding the rule (e.g. Pennsylvania, Kansas), some striking it down (e.g. Utah), one (Montana) managing to do both in relation to different aspects of its workers compensation scheme. Kentucky has now moved from the side of the majority of states which have upheld the rule (albeit by a narrow 4-3 majority in McDowell) to those which have rejected it (again by a 4-3 ruling). However, the ruling of the majority must be of the least convincing judgements on this issue. The court decided the case on the basis of an argument apparently not actually argued in court; it misapplied rational basis review by ignoring the fact that underinclusiveness is not determinative of equal protection challenges; and it concluded that the offset was a ‘special law’ (again not argued) without any detailed consideration of the issue.
Keywords
  • workers compensation,
  • constitution,
  • equal protection,
  • offsets
Publication Date
2017
Citation Information
Mel Cousins. "Rational basis with a vengeance in Kentucky - workers compensation offsets in Parker v Webster Co. Coal" (2017)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mel_cousins/107/