TOPEKA - (January 8, 2021) – The Kansas
Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of an amendment to the
Kansas Workers Compensation Act that adopted more recent guidelines for
assessing medical impairment, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.
"Our position has been that the
Legislature had authority to update the law as it did," said Schmidt,
whose office successfully defended the statute after intervening in the case to
request the Kansas Supreme Court's review. "Today the Supreme Court
agreed. We have successfully defended this duly enacted state law."
The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday
unanimously reversed the Court of Appeals' 2018 ruling that had found the
updated law unconstitutional. In today's opinion, the court ruled that the law
does not violate Section 18 of the Kansas Bill of Rights because the use
of medical evaluation guidelines only serves as a base for determining
compensation, while the law still requires “competent medical evidence.”
In 2013, the Legislature amended the Kansas
Workers Compensation Act to require use of the Sixth Edition of the American
Medical Association (AMA) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to
rate the impairment of injuries sustained after January 1, 2015. The
Kansas Court of Appeals in 2018 had struck down that amendment as
unconstitutional, instead requiring that the Fourth Edition of the AMA Guides,
which was in place under the law prior to the 2013 change, be reinstated going
The Kansas Supreme Court today reversed the
Court of Appeals and upheld the updated statute.
“The 2013 amendments merely reflect an update
to the most recent set of guidelines—which serve as a starting point for any
medical opinion,” Justice Caleb Stegall wrote for the court. “Aside from an
updated starting point, the legal substance of K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 44-
510e(a)(2)(B) remains the same as it has been. Given this, the challenge under
section 18 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights necessarily fails.”
A copy of the ruling in Johnson
v. U.S. Food Service can be found at https://bit.ly/3s9P3y0.