Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court ordering Devin Wilson to pay Kenneth Risley a jury award in favor of Risley, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the assignment provision in Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3113a(c) did not divest Risley of the right to recover his medical expenses from the tortfeasor. A jury found Wilson liable in tort for injuring Risley in an automobile accident and awarded Risley the cost of his medical expenses in addition to other compensation. Risley had previously been paid for his medical expenses under the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage of his automobile insurance policy. The jury entered judgment on the entire amount of damages as awarded by the jury. On appeal, Wilson argued that Risley had no right to sue for the medical expenses because the cause of action for those medical expenses had been statutorily assigned pursuant to section 40-3113a(c) to Risley’s PIP insurance carrier. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Risley was entitled to the full damages as awarded by the jury, including any medical expenses that were duplicative of the PIP benefits Risley received from his PIP insurance carrier. View "McCullough v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held in this wrongful death lawsuit that a landowner whose property abuts a rural intersection owes no duty to passing drivers to trim or remove trees or other vegetation on the property. The estate and heirs of a deceased driver who was involved in a fatal two-car accident at a rural intersection sued the owners of property located at one corner of the intersection, alleging that an overgrowth of trees and vegetation obstructed the view at the intersection and contributed to the accident. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances, the landowners did not owe a common-law duty to passing drivers to correct a natural condition on their property that affected road visibility at the rural intersection. View "Manley v. Hallbauer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that summary judgment was improperly granted to a title company on negligence and breach of fiduciary duty claims that arose out of the company’s omission of a reserved mineral interest in a deed and its handling of a later conveyance. In granting summary judgment, the district court determined that the relevant statute of limitations barred the claims. A court of appeals panel reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) as to the negligence claim, a genuine issue of material fact existed as to when the cause of action accrued, and the case must therefore be remanded for further proceedings; and (2) the breach of fiduciary duty claim was not excusable from further litigation because of the statute of limitations, as the claim was brought well within the allowable period. View "LCL, LLC v. Falen" on Justia Law

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Substantial evidence supported the Workers Compensation Board’s decision to deny workers compensation benefits to Appellant, who was severely injured when he was hit by a drunk driver while walking from a bar to his hotel. At the time of the accident, Appellant was a laborer working an out-of-town roofing job. The Board found that Defendant’s injuries did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant’s injuries did not arise out of and in the course of his employment as defined by the Kansas Workers Compensation Act (KWCA). View "Atkins v. Webcon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s wrongful death suit. Plaintiff received workers’ compensation death benefits after her husband was killed while acting within the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiff participated in two wrongful death cases stemming from her husband’s death, both based on the Kansas wrongful death statute. Plaintiff filed a state court action in a Kansas district court and joined a federal action filed by her husband’s son in a federal district court. The plaintiffs eventually settled their wrongful death claims with the third-party tortfeasors. The federal court approved the settlement. After the federal case concluded, Plaintiff moved the district court to rule that her share of the federal settlement was attributable to her damages for loss of consortium and loss of spousal services, which are damages statutorily exempt from the workers compensation lien. The district court judge denied the motion and dismissed the case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that once the federal judge entered judgment approving the parties’ settlement agreement there was no longer a case or controversy underlying Plaintiff’s wrongful death action in Kansas, and therefore, it was proper for the district judge to dismiss the case. View "Heimerman v. Rose" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal arising from wrongful death lawsuits alleging that Bolton Township and Cowley County negligently failed to provide adequate traffic-control devices on a rural road that abruptly ends at a riverbank was whether the Township had a legal duty to place the devices and whether the County was immune from liability. The district court entered summary judgment in the Township’s favor on all claims, ruling that the Township had no legal duty under the applicable statutes to place traffic-control devices, guidance, or other warnings on the township road. As to the County, the district court granted summary judgment in part, ruling that the County was immune under the Kansas Tort Claims Act (KTCA) for failing to place an advisory speed plaque on the road but that a jury question existed as to whether the County was statutorily immune for failing to post a “Dead End” or “No Outlet” sign on the road. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the Township had no legal duty to place traffic-control devices along the road; and (2) the County was immune from liability for the signage claims under the KTCA’s discretionary function exceptions. View "Patterson v. Cowley County, Kansas" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury case, the district court erred when it dismissed Plaintiff’s intentional tort claim and denied her request to seek punitive damages. Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant after Defendant drove his parents’ truck over Plaintiff’s feet in the high school parking lot. The district court dismissed most of Plaintiff’s claims, Defendant conceded he was negligent, and the case was submitted to a jury on the appropriate measure of Plaintiff’s actual damages. Plaintiff accepted the jury’s award of actual damages but appealed the adverse rulings on her other claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) the court of appeals properly affirmed the district court’s rulings with respect to Plaintiff’s negligent entrustment and uninsured motorist claims; but (2) the district court did not properly evaluate the evidence concerning Defendant’s state of mind and its impact on the legal theories and damages available to Plaintiff pursuant to Kansas law. View "McElhaney v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that certain evidence in this action filed under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) was improperly admitted and reversing the jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff. After slipping on diesel fuel spilled by a coworker, Plaintiff sued his employer, BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), under FELA. At trial, Plaintiff introduced evidence that the coworker had been disciplined for his conduct. BNSF objected to the evidence, arguing that the discipline was a subsequent remedial measure barred by Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-451. The district court overruled BNSF’s objection. The jury found that BNSF negligently caused Plaintiff’s injuries and awarded $1.72 million in damages. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial, concluding that the evidence of the coworker’s discipline was barred by section 60-451. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the disciplinary evidence, which qualified as a subsequent remedial measure was admitted for improper purposes under section 60-451; and (2) the error was not harmless. View "Bullock v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an intentional tort lawsuit against Defendants for injuries he allegedly suffered as a result of a battery. The case was dismissed for lack of prosecution. Plaintiff refiled his case using the Kansas savings statute, Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-518. The district court dismissed the case once again for lack of prosecution. Plaintiff then filed this third action, attempting to invoke section 6-518 a second time. The district court dismissed the action with prejudice. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding (1) a party may use section 60-518 only one time to resurrect a case dismissed for a reason other than upon the merits when the statute of limitations for the underlying cause of action has expired; and (2) therefore, this action was barred by the statute of limitations and properly dismissed with prejudice. View "Lozano v. Alvarez" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether the firefighter’s rule should be extended to law enforcement officers. Officer Juan Apodaca and Officer Jonathan Dulaney suffered serious injuries after attempting to help Matthew Willmore, who had fallen asleep at the wheel. The officers filed a petition alleging that Willmore’s negligence caused them to suffer personal injuries and related damages. They also asserted a claim of negligent entrustment against Willmore’s father. The Willmores filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the firefighter’s rule barred the officer’s claims. Thereafter, Officer Dulaney dismissed his claims against the Willmores. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Willmores, concluding (1) the firefighter’s rule “should be and is extended to law enforcement officers”; and (2) the firefighter’s rule barred Officer Apodaca from recovering in this action because he was acting within the scope of his duties as a law enforcement officer at the time of the accident. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the firefighter’s rule, first enunciated in Calvert v. Garvey Elevators, Inc., is extended to law enforcement officers; and (2) the district judge correctly granted summary judgment to Defendants on all claims because of application of the firefighter’s rule. View "Apodaca v. Willmore" on Justia Law