Court Case Updates, Federal and Kentucky - June 2019
By NCCI Insights June 18, 2019

Federal—State Compensability Presumptions for Federal Workers

On June 14, 2019, the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, in United States of America v. State of Washington, upheld the constitutionality of a Washington workers compensation statute that creates a presumption of compensability for certain types of illnesses suffered by federal contractors working at the Hanford federal nuclear cleanup site.

The court rejected the federal government’s challenge that the state law violated the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. It found that a federal statute (40 U.S.C. § 3172) gives authority to the states to regulate workers compensation on federal land, to the same extent that the state can regulate on nonfederal land.

This decision could be appealed. NCCI will monitor for further developments.

Kentucky—Occupational Hearing Loss

On June 13, 2019, in Teco/Perry County Coal v. Feltner(previously reported as Napier v. Enterprise Mining Company), the Supreme Court of Kentucky reversed a Court of Appeals decision declaring unconstitutional a Kentucky workers compensation statute that excluded permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits for an occupational hearing loss involving both ears, with a resulting total body impairment rating of less than 8% under the AMA Guides.

The court found that there was a rational basis for treating hearing loss claimants differently from other types of claimants and upheld the statute as constitutional. The decision affirmed the administrative law judge’s determination that a claimant was not entitled to PPD benefits based on his impairment rating.

For more information on other cases monitored by NCCI's Legal Division, visit previous Court Case Updates under INSIGHTS on

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