Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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Stigma damages are a measure of damages stemming from actual injury to property, but if remediation damages are settled and a claim on the stigma damages resulting from the actual damages is reserved, the injured party may be awarded stigma damages regardless of the partial settlement on remediation. Plaintiffs’ property was damaged from oil contamination. In a federal action, the parties entered into a partial settlement that allocated $60,000 to Plaintiffs for repair costs, intended to remedy actual damages to their property. Plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all claims against Defendants except for a reserved claims asserting the diminution of the value of their real estate due to the stigma resulting from the contamination. Plaintiffs then filed this state claim alleging negligence, trespass, and permanent nuisance. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the partial settlement barred the state action because Plaintiffs were fully compensated for the actual damages the contamination caused to their property. The circuit court dismissed the stigma damages claim, holding that Plaintiffs could not seek both the costs of remediation and the diminution in value due to stigma damages. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs’ claim for damages resulting from the stigma of the contamination may be recovered in addition to the settled repair costs. View "Muncie v. Wiesemann" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals determining that Appellant, Auslander Properties, LLC, was an “employer” and thus subject to certain employee safety regulations promulgated pursuant to the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Act (KOSHA), Ky. Rev. Stat. 338, and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., and that Appellant had violated duties owed to Appellee, Joseph Herman Nalley, under KOSHA. The trial court awarded Nalley compensatory damages for serious personal injuries he sustained while working on a roof at property owned by Appellant. The Supreme Court remanded the case for dismissal of Nalley’s claim, holding (1) contrary to Nalley’s argument, Appellant properly appealed the denial of summary judgment seeking reversal of the trial court judgment; and (2) Appellant was entitled to dismissal of the negligence per se claim because Nalley was an independent contractor rather than an employee of the LLC, and the responsibility for complying with safety laws applicable to the specialized work Nalley was performing at the time of his injury was upon Nalley. View "Auslander Properties, LLC v. Nalley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals declining to issue a writ sought by Miki Thompson prohibiting the trial court from enforcing discovery orders entered for inspection and discovery in a wrongful death and negligence action pending in the circuit court. The court of appeals found that Thompson failed to show irreparable injury without the writ or the existence of facts sufficient to justify issuance of the writ under the special-case exception. In affirming, the Supreme Court held that the court of appeals did not err in concluding that complying with the trial court’s orders will not lead to an irreparable injury for Thompson or that the writ must issue under the special-case exception. View "Thompson v. Honorable Eddy Coleman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals declining to issue a writ sought by Miki Thompson prohibiting the trial court from enforcing discovery orders entered for inspection and discovery in a wrongful death and negligence action pending in the circuit court. The court of appeals found that Thompson failed to show irreparable injury without the writ or the existence of facts sufficient to justify issuance of the writ under the special-case exception. In affirming, the Supreme Court held that the court of appeals did not err in concluding that complying with the trial court’s orders will not lead to an irreparable injury for Thompson or that the writ must issue under the special-case exception. View "Thompson v. Honorable Eddy Coleman" 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 upholding the decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ), which awarded Michael R. Plumley permanent partial disability benefits. On appeal, the Court held that the ALJ did not err (1) by relying upon the medical report of Dr. Greg Snider, who evaluated Plumley under the range-of-motion method and used terminology different from that which Plumley would use to describe essentially the same condition; (2) by finding that Plumley had three distinct work-related injuries, for each of which the ALJ made three tandem benefit awards rather than a single-injury with a single-benefit award; and (3) in his use of modifier multipliers. View "Plumley v. Kroger, Inc." on Justia Law

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The scope of appellate review of an interlocutory appeal of the trial court’s determination of qualified official immunity is limited to the specific issue of whether immunity was properly denied. In this interlocutory appeal, the court of appeals not only agreed with the trial court that Defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity but also conclusively determined that Defendants were not negligent as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court, holding that the court of appeals exceeded its scope of appellate review when it addressed the substantive claim of negligence on an interlocutory appeal of a decision about qualified official immunity. View "Baker v. Fields" on Justia Law

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The language of Ky. Rev. Stat. 258.235(4) imposes strict liability upon the owner of a dog that attacks and injures a person. Plaintiff sued Defendant after Defendant’s dogs attacked and injured her, relying on section 258.235(4). After the conclusion of the evidence, Plaintiff unsuccessfully requested instruction requiring an imposition of liability upon Defendant solely by showing Defendant’s ownership of the dogs that attacked her. The jury determined that Defendant was the owner of the dogs that caused injury to Plaintiff but that Defendant was not liable to Plaintiff. The Court of Appeals affirmed, ruling that the jury instructions properly stated the law of a dog owner’s liability for injuries caused by his dog. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that a dog owner is strictly liable for injuries caused when his dog attacks a person and that a plaintiff’s comparative negligence in a dog bite case may be considered in measuring the damages awarded to her. View "Maupin v. Tankersley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the unanimous jury verdict in Defendant's favor on a personal injury action brought by Plaintiff. Plaintiff was driving his motorcycle when he collided with a downed tree in the roadway. At the time, Defendant was the Metro Louisville County Engineer and an Assistant Director of Public Works. Plaintiff filed an action naming several defendants, including Defendant in his individual capacity. The jury subsequently returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Defendant, finding that Plaintiff had not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant breached a duty owed to Plaintiff. The court of appeals reversed, ruling (1) the jury’s findings that Defendant did not fail to comply with his duty was against the weight of the evidence, and (2) Defendant was entitled to a new trial but not to a directed verdict. The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals remanding the case to the circuit court for a new trial and affirmed the court of appeals’ denial of a directed verdict, holding that the court erred in granting a new trial because ample evidence on the issue of duty was presented and supported the jury verdict. View "Storm v. Martin" on Justia Law

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Patients do not have a cause of action against a hospital for the negligent credentialing of a non-employee physician who is given staff privileges by the hospital because Kentucky law does not recognize the tort of negligent credentialing. In these three consolidated cases, the trial courts ruled that Kentucky does not recognize the tort of negligent credentialing. The court of appeals ultimately recognized negligent credentialing as a separate cause of action in the Commonwealth. The Supreme Court disagreed with the court of appeals, holding that there was no need to establish the new tort of negligent credentialing specifically applying to hospitals. The court affirmed the court of appeals’ affirmance of summary judgment in one case and reinstated the order of the trial court and remanded the remaining cases to the respective trial courts for further proceedings. View "Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, LLC v. Adams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff in this civil action asserting the tort of conversion and remanded the case to the trial court with direction to grant summary judgment to Defendants. Plaintiff claimed that Defendants should be required to disgorge large sums of money that Plaintiff claimed had been stolen from her by her attorney and transferred by him to Defendants. The court of appeals concluded that Plaintiff failed to prove the essential elements of conversion, specifically finding that Plaintiff lacked the requisite legal title or possessory rights to the allegedly converted property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff could not maintain a conversion action against Defendants because she no longer possessed title to or a possessory interest in the funds transferred. View "Ford v. Baerg" on Justia Law