Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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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

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Plaintiffs were the heirs of two individuals who were killed in a single-vehicle accident. Plaintiffs brought this wrongful death action against Cowley County, Bolton Township, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for failure to provide adequate warnings, signs or barriers on portions of the road where the accident occurred. The district court granted partial summary judgment to the County and full summary judgment to the Township and the Kansas Department of Wildlife. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the County did not have a duty to initiate an engineering study; (2) the County is immune from liability under the discretionary judgment exception of the Kansas Tort Claims Act (KTCA) but not immune from liability under the recreational exception of the KTCA for any failure to place an advisory speed plaque or warnings sings on its portion of 322nd Road; (3) the Township had no duty to place traffic control devices or other warning signs on its portion of 322nd Road; and (4) the KTCA exception for failing to inspect the property of another does not apply to the facts presented in this case. View "Patterson v. Cowley County, Kansas" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Sperry, an inmate at the Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF), filed a lawsuit seeking civil damages from the LCF Warden and the Secretary of Corrections, alleging that he had been exposed to lead paint and asbestos while incarcerated at LCF. The district court dismissed all claims except Sperry’s claims against the Warden and Secretary in their individual capacities. Approximately two years later, the district court dismissed all remaining claims when ruling on multiple motions to dismiss filed by the Warden and Secretary. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of Sperry’s state law claims and reversed the dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim. The Warden and Secretary petitioned for review, arguing that the district court and court of appeals erred in considering material outside the pleadings when ruling on motions to dismiss. Sperry cross-petitioned for review, arguing that the lower courts erred in ruling that his failure to attach proof that he exhausted his administrative remedies required dismissing his state law claims. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision that Sperry’s claims must be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, holding that the district court and court of appeals erred in not enforcing the requirements of Supreme Court Rule 141, and the error was not harmless. View "Sperry v. McKune" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s probationary employment was terminated by Kansas State University. Plaintiff sued the University, arguing that her employment termination was in retaliation for her potential claims under the Kansas Workers Compensation Act. The district court granted the University’s motion to dismiss, determining that Plaintiff did not exhaust her administrative remedies because Plaintiff was required under the Kansas Judicial Review Act (KJRA) to first present her retaliatory discharge claim to the University for determination. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff’s claims were not governed by the KJRA and, therefore, jurisdiction was proper in the district court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s tort claim was not governed by the KJRA. Remanded. View "Platt v. Kansas State Univ." on Justia Law

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Bromley Quarry operated an underground limestone mine adjacent to Plaintiffs’ property. Plaintiffs sued Bromley Quarry, claiming trespass and conversion of 855,500 tons of limestone. Bromely Quarry admitted that it had trespassed onto the Armstrong property and removed 173,392 tons of rock during the limitations period generally applicable to trespass and conversion claims but denied liability for the remainder (the “disputed rock”). The district court granted summary judgment to Bromley Quarry on Plaintiffs’ claim relating to the disputed rock, and, following a trial, awarded Plaintiffs damages for the 173,392 tons of limestone that the court found was converted during the limitations period. To compute the award for the rock, the district court found Bromely Quarry was a good-faith trespasser. The Court of Appeals reversed in part, concluding that Bromley Quarry was not a good-faith trespasser, and otherwise affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the lower courts erred by relying on an incomplete record to determine when the statute of limitations began running on Plaintiffs’ claims; and (2) Bromley Quarry did not prove it was a good-faith trespasser and therefore was liable for $1,733,920 as the enhanced value of the 173,392 tons of limestone. View "Armstrong v. Bromley Quarry & Asphalt, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Defendants. The district judge issued a memorandum decision addressing various motions for partial and full summary judgment. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion seeking the district judge’s certification of the memorandum decision as a final judgment under Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-254(b). The district judge granted the request in a journal entry, determining that “there is no just reason for delay.” Within thirty days of the filing of the court’s journal entry, Plaintiffs then filed their notice of appeal of the adverse rulings. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal, ruling that Prime Lending II v. Trolley’s Real Estate Holdings controlled and that the district court had no discretion to retroactively certify the judgment as immediately appealable. The Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals’ order dismissing Plaintiff’s appeal, holding (1) a certification of “no just reason for delay” may be made after summary judgment is granted to fewer than all parties or on fewer than all claims; (2) the filing date of the district court order or journal entry memorializing that certification starts the thirty-day appeal clock; and (3) the district judge’s certification of his original decision as an appealable judgment was successful in this case. View "Ullery v. Othick" on Justia Law

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Helen Keiswetter died from her injuries after a minimum-security inmate escaped from the State’s custody, entered her home, and forced her into a closet, where the inmate kicked her, causing her to fall and hit her head. Helen’s son, Ron Keiswetter, sued the State for her personal injuries and wrongful death. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the State, finding that the public duty doctrine precluded Keiswetter’s claim and that the State was immune from liability under the police protection exception of the Kansas Tort Claims Act (KTCA). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State demonstrated that it was entitled to immunity from liability under the police protection exception of the KTCA. View "Keiswetter v. State" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Plaintiff settled his negligence case against Defendant. The district court dismissed the litigation for lack of prosecution later that year. More than four years later, Plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the dismissal order, alleging that he never received payment. The district court set aside the dismissal order. Defendant then filed this interlocutory appeal arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction to set aside the dismissal order because Plaintiff’s motion was untimely under Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-260(c). Defendant did not seek certification for his interlocutory appeal but, instead, argued that a common-law jurisdictional exception permitted an appeal from an order setting aside a final judgment, citing Brown v. Fitzpatrick. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that Brown was no longer viable in light of more recent case law from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Brown is overruled to the extent it endorsed a judicially created appeal right in a civil case outside of those created by statute; and (2) Plaintiff’s appeal in this case must be dismissed because it was not brought in accordance with the statute governing interlocutory appeals. View "Wiechman v. Huddleston" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a wrongful death action against a hospital and its employee after Plaintiffs’ son died from a punctured bowel. The district court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction, concluding (1) the hospital was a municipality as defined by section 12-105a(a); and (2) Plaintiffs failed to comply with the notice requirements under Kan. Stat. Ann. 12-105b(d). The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) compliance with section 12-105b(d) is not achieved when a claimant’s notice fails to provide any statement of monetary damages; (2) the provision in section 12-105b(d) giving a municipality 120 days to investigate and review a claim is a statutory condition precedent to filing a lawsuit, and a claimant’s premature filing of a lawsuit leaves a court without subject matter jurisdiction; and (3) in this case, even if Plaintiffs substantially complied with section 12-105b(d) by providing the hospital with a statement of damages, the district court properly dismissed their case because they prematurely filed it. View "Sleeth v. Sedan City Hosp." on Justia Law