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Knoll v. Olathe School District No. 233

Supreme Court of Kansas

April 19, 2019

Helen Loree Knoll, Appellee,
v.
Olathe School District No. 233, Appellant.

         SYLLABUS

         1. In a workers compensation case, the substantive rights between the parties are determined by the law in effect on the date of injury. However, amendments to the compensation act that are merely procedural or remedial in nature and that do not prejudicially affect substantive rights of the parties apply to pending cases.

         2. Generally, statutes of limitations are considered procedural.

         3. If a workers compensation claimant filed an application for hearing under K.S.A. 44-534 after K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 44-523(f)(1) took effect, the 2011 statute governs the claim.

         Review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in 54 Kan.App.2d 335, 398 P.3d 223 (2017).

          Appeal from Workers Compensation Board.

          Kip A. Kubin, of Bottaro, Kubin & Yocum, P.C., of Leawood, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.

          James R. Shetlar, of James R. Shetlar Law Offices, of Overland Park, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellee.

          Per Curiam

         Helen Knoll filed an application for hearing with the Kansas Division of Workers Compensation. When the claim did not proceed to final hearing within three years from that filing and Knoll had not filed a motion for extension, Olathe School District (school district) moved for the dismissal of the claim. The administrative law judge (ALJ) denied the motion, reasoning that Knoll had five years to proceed to final hearing or file a motion under K.S.A. 2009 Supp. 44-523(f). The Kansas Workers Compensation Board (the Board) affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 44-523(f)(1) controlled Knoll's claim and required its dismissal when Knoll did not file a motion for extension within three years of filing her application for hearing. Knoll challenges that decision. We affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Knoll was injured while working for the school district on October 29, 2009. Knoll filed an application for hearing with the Kansas Division of Workers Compensation on November 14, 2011. On February 15, 2015, the school district and its insurer moved to have Knoll's claim dismissed pursuant to K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 44-523(f)(1), because the claim had not proceeded to a final hearing within three years of the filing of an application for hearing.

         On March 4, 2015, Knoll filed a motion for an extension of her claim, alleging good cause. The school district filed a motion in opposition and Knoll responded. In her response, Knoll acknowledged that K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 44-523(f)(1) governed her claim since it was the law in effect when she filed the application for hearing, but she argued that it did not create a time limit on filing a motion for extension. On May 4, 2015, Knoll amended this response. She argued that the motion to dismiss should be denied because K.S.A. 2009 Supp. 44-523(f) actually governed her claim and that version of the statute gives a claimant five years from the date of filing an application for hearing to file a motion for extension.

         After considering the parties' motions, the ALJ concluded that the 2009 version of K.S.A. 44-523 governed Knoll's claim and, therefore, her motion for extension was timely. As a result, it denied the school district's motion to dismiss. The case proceeded to final hearing and the ALJ entered an award of compensation. The school district sought review with the Board of the ALJ's denial of the motion to dismiss. The Board affirmed the denial and the school district appealed. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the ALJ and the Board. It concluded that the 2011 version of K.S.A. 44-523 applied retroactively to Knoll's claim and required that Knoll file her motion for extension within three years. Because she had not filed her motion within that time limit, the panel held that the ALJ should have granted ...


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