Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board affirming the ALJ's determination that Appellant was not entitled to benefits pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342 in connection with his injury while working as a bus driver for Transit Authority of River City (TARC), holding that the ALJ's decision denying Appellant benefits was supported by substantial evidence. While operating a TARC bus Appellant was assaulted by a passenger, resulting in injuries. TARC denied Appellant's claim for benefits pursuant to the special defense provided in Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.610(3), asserting that Appellant was the aggressor in the altercation and that he acted outside of the scope of his employment. After reviewing the evidence, the ALJ denied Appellant benefits. The Board and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the ALJ's determination to deny benefits. View "Trevino v. Transit Authority of River City" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board (Board) affirming the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) denial of Appellant’s claim for benefits pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342, holding that the ALJ’s decision denying Appellant benefits was supported by substantial evidence. Appellant was injured while working as a bus driver for Transit Authority of River City (TARC). TARC denied Appellant’s claim for benefits pursuant to the special defense provided in Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.610(3). TARC argued that Appellant’s injuries was the result of Appellant acting as the aggressor in an altercation with a passenger and that Appellant acted outside the scope of his employment. The ALJ denied benefits pursuant to section 341.610(3). The Board and the court of appeals determined that there was substantial evidence supporting the ALJ’s determination to deny benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ did not err in denying benefits. View "Trevino v. Transit Authority of River City" on Justia Law

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In this negligence action, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the circuit court and court of appeals that Defendants were protected by the immunity doctrine, holding that Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA) was a state agency entitled to the protection of governmental immunity and that LMHA’s employee performing discretionary acts was shielded by qualified official immunity. A three-year-old was shot and killed when his mother took him to visit Terrah Love at her apartment building and someone involved in a fued with Love came to the complex and began shooting. A stray bullet hit and killed the child. The mother sued LMHA, the owner and property management company of the apartments, and Juanita Mitchell, the property manager, for their failure to evict Love, alleging that they negligently caused the child’s death. The lower courts concluded that LMHA was shielded by governmental immunity and Mitchell was shielded by qualified official immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that both defendants were entitled to immunity. View "Bryant v. Louisville Metro Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s claim against the heirs of the Decedent seeking to enforce a judgment lien against real property owned by the Decedent at his death, holding that Plaintiff’s tort claim, which accrued prior to the date of death, made Plaintiff a creditor of the Decedent and his Estate. Plaintiff filed a tort action against the Decedent, who subsequently died, and judgment was entered for Plaintiff. Plaintiff then filed a judgment lien against the Estate’s property. In a separate action, Bank filed a foreclosure action seeking to enforce its mortgages against the Decedent’s real property. Plaintiff sought to intervene in the foreclosure action. The trial court concluded that Plaintiff failed to state a claim because at the time of death, the Decedent’s real property immediately passed to his heirs at law, subject only to the claims of creditors, and that Plaintiff’s tort claim did not qualify him as a creditor. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff became a creditor of the Decedent when the tort occurred, and the fact that the claim was reduced to judgment and a judgment lien filed postmortem had no impact on Plaintiff’s status as a creditor of the estate. View "Gregory v. Hardgrove" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the circuit court rendering a verdict in favor of Plaintiff on her tort action against Defendant, holding that the circuit court erred in giving jury instructions that failed to account for Plaintiff’s status and misstated the duty of care owed by Defendant. Plaintiff was Defendant’s mother and was injured while at Defendant’s house. Plaintiff slipped and fell on Defendant’s back deck, which was soapy and slick after Plaintiff mopped it. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff and apportioned 100 percent of the fault upon Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed. the Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court’s “ordinary care” instruction misstated the law of premises liability, and the error was not harmless because the instruction effectively removed the step of establishing the scope of the duty owed to Plaintiff as either a licensee or invitee and whether, based on her classification, Defendant breached her duty of care. View "Smith v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s personal injury action, holding that the trial court and the Court of Appeals did not err in their respective analyses of the matter as to whether Plaintiff’s status as a trespasser was mitigated by the attractive nuisance option. Plaintiff, who was sixteen years old at the time, was injured while a trespasser on Defendant’s construction site. Plaintiff, through his parents as next friends and natural guardians, filed this action alleging negligence based on attractive nuisance. The trial court granted Defendants’ motions for summary judgment, noting Plaintiff’s age and his awareness of the dangers inherent in heavy construction equipment. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the doctrine of attractive nuisance was inapplicable to this situation, where Plaintiff, a minor trespasser, occupied the same position as an adult; and (2) the record contained no evidence that Defendants intentionally inflicted Plaintiff’s injuries by willful, wanton, or reckless conduct. View "Hayes v. D.C.I. Properties-D KY, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that because the Medical Review Panel Act, Ky. Rev. Stat. 216C delays access to the courts of the Commonwealth for the adjudication of common-law claims, chapter 216C violates Section 14 of the Kentucky Constitution. This case presented a legal challenge to chapter 216C, which establishes a mandatory process to delay certain medical-malpractice claimants’ ability to access immediately the Commonwealth courts by creating medical-review panels and requiring a panel’s opinion about the merits of the claimant’s proposed complaint against health-care providers before the claimant may file suit. The trial court declared the Act unconstitutional on several grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that chapter 216C violates section 14 of the Kentucky Constitution, which acts as a restraint on the power of all departments of state government infringing on the right of the people to seek immediate recess for common-law personal-injury claims. View "Commonwealth, Cabinet for Health & Family Services, ex rel. Meier v. Claycomb" on Justia Law

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At issue was the implications of the statutory language found in Ky. Rev. Stat. 186A.220 to the sale of a vehicle that was involved in an accident that killed both Jonathan Elmore and Craig Armstrong. Charles Armstrong sued Martin Cadillac, Inc.; The Travelers Indemnity Company, Martin’s insurer; Elmore’s estate, and other parties for the wrongful death of his son, Craig. Elmore was driving the vehicle, and Craig was a passenger when the vehicle was involved in the accident. This litigation centered around who owned, operated, or was financially responsible for the vehicle Elmore was driving. The circuit court found that Elmore was the owner of the vehicle, and therefore, that Martin and Travelers were not financially liable for the loss. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment on all claims against Martin and Travelers, holding that, pursuant to section 186A. 220, Martin was not the “owner” of the vehicle, and therefore, Martin and Travelers were not responsible for coverage of the vehicle. View "Travelers Indemnity Co. v. Armstrong" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s denial of Defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on their claims of qualified immunity, holding that Defendants, officials in the Breathitt County school system, were entitled to qualified official immunity on the claims brought by Jane Doe and her mother based on sexual abuse Doe experienced as a middle-school student. Doe alleged that Defendants breached their ministerial duties to properly supervise students and to report abuse and acted in bad faith in handling misconduct claims involving a former teacher. The court of appeals concluded that qualified immunity applied because Defendants’ acts - or inactions - were discretionary, were within the scope of their authority, and were undertaken in good faith. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendants’ duty to supervise was a discretionary act, and the duty to report can have both discretionary and ministerial elements, depending on the facts; (2) Defendants’ response to a texting incident did not constitute a violation of a ministerial duty that destroyed qualified official immunity; and (3) Doe failed to show Defendants acted in bad faith so as to deprive them of qualified official immunity View "Ritchie v. Turner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, jail personnel, on this wrongful death suit alleging that an inmate died of a hydrocodone overdose while in jail due to the negligence of the jail personnel. Specifically, the Court held (1) even if a jury could reasonably determine that Defendants’ ministerial duties were violated, Plaintiffs could not prove causation; and (2) because there was no guide issue of material fact concerning causation, summary judgment for Defendants was proper. View "Peterson v. Foley" on Justia Law