Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court dismissing as untimely Tracie Williams' complaint against Katelin Hawkins as the administratrix of the estate of Charlotte Hawkins, holding that no extraordinary circumstance justified deviating from the routine application of the statute of limitations. In March 2015, Williams was injured in a two-vehicle accident with Charlotte. Charlotte died in October 2015. Williams, however, did not discover Charlotte's death until one day prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations in March 2017. When Williams filed her initial complaint against Charlotte the trial court dismissed it as a legal nullity because the court could not have jurisdiction over a deceased individual. After Katelin was appointed as administratrix, a new complaint was filed against Katelin in May 2017. The trial court dismissed the complaint because it was not filed within the two-year limitations period. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) no extraordinary circumstances existed to justify equitable tolling; and (2) equitable estoppel was inapplicable. View "Williams v. Hawkins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' opinion affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiffs' complaint based on this Court's holding in Gailor v. Alsabi, 990 S.W.2d 597 (Ky. 1999), holding that the lower courts correctly held that Plaintiffs' claims were filed outside the statute of limitations period and that the requirements of Ky. R. Civ. P. 15.03 were not met. Plaintiffs were injured when their vehicle was struck in the rear by a vehicle operated by Gary Day. Before the limitations period expired on their claims, Plaintiffs filed a personal injury complaint against Day. The parties did not know, however, that Day had died a year earlier. After expiration of the statute of limitations Plaintiffs successfully petitioned the probate court to appoint a public administrator for Day's estate. Plaintiffs then filed a complaint correctly naming the Estate as a party with the correct administrator. The trial court concluded that the claims were time barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Gailor is applicable and controlling; (2) knowledge of a claim cannot be imputed to a non-existent party to satisfy the notice requirement of Rule 15.03; and (3) this case did not warrant tolling of the statute of limitations. View "Jackson v. Estate of Gary Day" on Justia Law

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In this wrongful death suit the Supreme Court overruled Chambers v. Ideal Pure Milk Co., 245 S.W.2d 589 (Ky. 1952), and its per se no proximate cause rule and adopted the majority rule that will allow juries to determine whether a pursuing officer's actions were a substantial factor in causing injury to a third party and apportion fault accordingly. Luiz Gonzalez was killed when a criminal suspect crashed into his vehicle during a high-speed chase initiated by Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Johnson. Johnson's vehicle was not involved in the collision. The estate of Gonzalez filed a wrongful death suit against Johnson and Sheriff Tony Hampton. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Johnson and Hampton based on Chambers. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) insofar as Chambers holds an officer cannot be the proximate or legal cause of damage inflicted on a third party by a fleeing suspect, Chambers is overruled; and (2) an officer can be the cause-in-fact and legal cause of damages inflicted upon a third party as a result of a negligent pursuit. View "Gonzalez v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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In this wrongful termination case, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.197 constitutes a waiver of sovereign immunity against a governmental employer and that genuine issues of material fact existed precluding summary judgment on Defendant's retaliation claim against certain defendants but did not exist as to other defendants. Plaintiff filed suit against Rick Benningfield, Taylor County Jailer; Eddie Marcum, Taylor County Jailer; Taylor County Fiscal Court; and Eddie Rogers, Taylor County Judge Executive; James Jones, John Gaines, Tommy Corbin, Matt Pendleton, Ed Goran, and Richard Phillips, all magistrates. The court of appeals reversed the trial court's summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding, among other things, that genuine issues of material fact existed precluding summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) disputed issues of material fact existed as to the involvement of Taylor County Fiscal Court and Benningfield in his official capacity; (2) no material facts remained in dispute as to the involvement of Rogers, the Magistrates, or Marcum, and therefore, summary judgment was appropriate as to these individuals; and (3) Benningfield was entitled to qualified official immunity. View "Benningfield v. Fields" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming an order of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff's claims for personal injuries in a civil action against her landlords, holding that summary judgment was proper. Plaintiff's complaint alleged that she sustained injuries as a result of a porch railing giving way, causing her to fall and suffer an ankle injury. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts' denial of relief, holding (1) Defendants were not liable to Plaintiff under Kan. Rev. Stat. 446.070 or the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; and (2) Defendants were not liable to Plaintiff under common-law safety rules. View "Waugh v. Parker" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Dr. Paul Wesley Lewis and Ashland Hospital Corporation (KDMC) after finding that David Shackelford could not establish a prima facie case of negligence, holding that, contrary to the decision of the court of appeals, expert opinion evidence was required to establish causation. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Dr. Lewis and KDMC after determining that Shackelford could not establish a prima facie case of negligence. The court of appeals reversed, finding that the issue of causation in this case did not require expert medical testimony. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the res ipsa loquitor exception did not apply to this case, and expert testimony was necessary; and (2) the proffered expert opinion evidence failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact on the issue of causation. View "Ashland Hospital Corp. v. Lewis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals in this interlocutory appeal from the denial of a judicial statements privilege in litigation between two physicians, holding that the matter at issue was beyond the parameters of appellate interlocutory jurisdiction. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant engaged in a pattern of conduct intended to damage Plaintiff's reputation and lure her patients to Defendant's medical practice. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss asserting the protections of the judicial statements privilege for absolute immunity based on a previous medical malpractice action that both physicians were involved in. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals concluded that Defendant was immune from some, but not all, of Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' decision, holding (1) the collateral order doctrine is a narrowly circumscribed exception to the final judgment rule; and (2) the judicial statements privilege is not a form of immunity, the denial of which allows for an interlocutory appeal under the collateral order doctrine. View "Maggard v. Kinney" on Justia Law

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In this wrongful death suit, the Supreme Court overruled Chambers v. Ideal Pure Milk Co., 245 S.W.2d 589 (Ky. 1952), insofar as it holds a police officer cannot be the proximate or legal cause of damage inflicted on a third party by a fleeing suspect and adopted the majority rule that will allow juries to determine whether a pursuing officer's actions were a substantial factor in causing injury to a third party and apportion fault accordingly. Luiz Gonzales was killed when a criminal suspect crashed into Gonzales' vehicle during a high-speed chase initiated by a Scott County deputy sheriff. Gonzales' estate filed a wrongful death suit against the deputy sheriff and the county sheriff. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants based on Chambers and its per se no proximate cause rule. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that, applying the new standard announced today, the factual allegations in this case were sufficient to create a disputed issue of material fact as to whether the deputy sheriff negligently conducted his pursuit of the criminal suspect. View "Gonzalez v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted the United States District Court, Western District of Kentucky's request for certification of law on the following issue, holding that a pre-injury liability waiver signed by a parent on behalf of a minor child is unenforceable under the specific facts of this case. Mother purchased tickets at a for-profit trampoline park (Park) for her eleven-year-old daughter. Mother checked a box indicating that she had read the Park's waiver of liability. The daughter proceeded to participate in the Park's activities but was injured. Mother, as next friend of Daughter, sued the Park for the injury. The Park moved for summary judgment based on Mother's legal power to waive the rights of her daughter via the release. The district court then requested certification from the Supreme Court as to this novel issue of state law. The Supreme Court held (1) under the common law of this Commonwealth, absent special circumstances, a parent has no authority to enter into contracts on a child’s behalf; and (2) there is no relevant public policy to justify abrogating the common law to enforce an exculpatory agreement between a for-profit entity and a parent on behalf of her minor child. View "Miller v. House of Boom Kentucky, LLC" 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 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