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Coonce v. Garner

September 28, 2007

GAIL E. COONCE, APPELLANT,
v.
JIM GARNER, SECRETARY OF THE KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, APPELLEE.



Appeal from Shawnee District Court; TERRY L. BULLOCK, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Judicial review of a determination by the Kansas Department of Labor is governed by K.S.A. 77-621. In that review, a court may not substitute its judgment for that of the agency. It is restricted to considering whether, as a matter of law, (1) the administrative agency acted fraudulently, arbitrarily, or capriciously, (2) the agency's administrative order is supported by substantial evidence, and (3) the agency's action was within the scope of its authority.

2. Substantial evidence in workers compensation cases is evidence that possesses something of substance and relevant consequence which induces the conclusion that the award is proper. It is evidence which furnishes a substantial basis of fact from which the issue can reasonably be resolved.

3. In a judicial review of actions of a administrative agency, an appellate court reviews the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party and does not reweigh the evidence or assess the credibility of witnesses. Findings supported by substantial evidence will be upheld on appeal even if evidence in the record would have supported contrary findings.

4. The interpretation of a workers compensation statute by the Kansas Department of Labor is a question of law over which an appellate court has unlimited review.

5. An agency's interpretation of a statute it administers is entitled to judicial deference, and if there is a rational basis for its interpretation it should be upheld.

6. There is a rebuttable presumption of validity attached to an action of an administrative agency, and the burden of proving the agency acted arbitrarily and capriciously lies with the party challenging the agency action.

7. Under the facts presented here, the determination by the Kansas Department of Labor that a worker injured on the job violated K.S.A. 44-5,120 by making false or misleading statements or misrepresenting or concealing material facts at least 10 times during the course of a deposition in an attempt to obtain workers compensation benefits is supported by substantial evidence.

8. Under the facts presented here, under K.S.A. 44-5,120(g), each false or misleading statement or misrepresentation by an injured worker made in a deposition in an attempt to obtain workers compensation benefits constitutes a separate violation upon which a fine of up to $2,000 may be imposed.

9. Under the facts presented here, the Kansas Department of Labor did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in assessing a fine of $20,000 against an injured worker who made at least 10 false or misleading statements or representations of his physical condition during the course of a deposition in his workers compensation case.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bukaty, J.

Affirmed.

Before CAPLINGER, P.J., ELLIOTT, J., and BUKATY, S.J.

Helen Rettie appeals the trial court's ruling that her employment contract with Unified School District 475 (U.S.D. 475) is void because she allowed her teacher's certificate to lapse and, therefore, she was not entitled to ...


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