Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals reviewing an appeal from an interlocutory order in a civil action denying immunity under Kentucky's "Stand Your Ground" law, Ky. Rev. Stat. 503.085, holding that the court of appeals lacked jurisdiction.Defendant was indicted on charges of murder and first-degree assault. Defendant moved the trial court to find him immune from prosecution under section 503.085. The circuit court granted Defendant's motion for immunity and ordered that the indictments against him be dismissed with prejudice. Thereafter, Defendant filed motions for judgment on the pleadings in a civil case stemming from the same incident leading to the criminal charges, arguing that collateral estoppel and section 503.085(1) required that he be immune from civil action. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed, finding that collateral estoppel applied. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion below, holding that the court of appeals lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal. View "Childers v. Albright" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision dismissing Appellant's appeal from a circuit court order terminating her parental rights, holding that the court of appeals erred in holding that Appellant's failure to name the children in her notice of appeal was a jurisdictional defect requiring dismissal.In ordering the appeal to be dismissed, the court of appeals held that serving the children's guardian ad litem with the notice of appeal was insufficient to cure the jurisdiction defect in this case of failing to name the children in either the caption or body of the notice of appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) service of the notice of appeal upon a child's guardian ad litem is sufficient to confer jurisdiction over that child to an appellate court; and (2) R.L.W. v. Cabinet for Human Resrouces, 756 S.W.2d 148 (Ky. App. 1988), is overruled insofar as it holds that the failure to name a child in a notice of appeal from a termination of parental rights is automatic grounds for dismissal. View "M.A.B. v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted motions to dismiss this appeal from the court of appeals' denial of a petition for a writ of mandamus directing Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu A. Stevens to rule on a summary judgment motion, holding that the appeal must be dismissed as moot.During the pendency of this appeal, Judge Stevens issued an order granting summary judgment to Louisville Metro Government (LMG) and dismissing with prejudice all claims against it on the grounds of sovereign immunity. The judge rejected the claim of governmental immunity asserted by the other defendant, Parking Authority of River City, Inc. (PARC), based on multiple issues of material fact leading to the denial of its request for summary judgment. PARC, however, was cleared to seek an immediate interlocutory appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal at hand, holding that because the request for a ruling on the summary judgment motion was issued, the need for a writ of mandamus no longer existed. View "Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government v. Honorable Olu A. Stevens" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals vacating the order of the trial court denying Ford Motor Company's motion for summary judgment, holding that neither the court of appeals nor this Court had appellate jurisdiction of this unauthorized interlocutory appeal.Plaintiff sued Ford and multiple other defendants, alleging that Ford was one of the parties responsible for causing his malignant mesothelioma. Just over two years after the suit was filed, Ford moved for summary judgment. The trial court denied the motion in a one-sentence handwritten order that contained no analysis or reasoning. The merits panel of the court of appeals vacated the trial court's order and remanded for the trial court to enter another order with a basis for its determination. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that the interlocutory order in this case did not meet the requirements of the collateral order doctrine, and therefore, the court of appeals and this Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal. View "Commonwealth v. Hess" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's request for a writ of prohibition and/or mandamus directing the circuit court to vacate the denial of her motion to stay discovery in a wrongful death/negligence action, holding that Petitioner failed to demonstrate that denial of the stay would cause her great and irreparable harm, and therefore, a writ was unavailable to her.The wrongful death/negligence action named as defendants Petitioner, her former employer and others. Petitioner sought to stay discovery in the action until a parallel criminal case against her alone was completed. In this action seeking writ relief Petitioner sought to stay all civil discovery until her indictment was resolved so that she could freely exercise her constitutional right to remain silent. The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to the requested writ. View "Barnes v. Honorable Julie Goodman" on Justia Law

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In this medical negligence lawsuit, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals denying Defendants' application for a writ of prohibition seeking to prevent the trial court from enforcing a protective order that forbade them from certain ex parte communications, holding that the trial court abused its discretion.Plaintiff brought this action against the University of Kentucky Medical Center and thirteen healthcare professionals allegedly employed by the Medical Center. Here, Defendants sought to prevent the trial court from enforcing a protective order forbidding them from ex parte communication with Plaintiff's unnamed treating physicians or other healthcare providers employed by the Medical Center. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the court of appeals with direction to issue a writ consistent with this decision, holding that the trial court abused its discretion because the basis of the order was purportedly the personal conviction of the trial court that departed from precedent without appropriate justification. View "Beck v. Honorable Ernesto Scorsone" on Justia Law

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In this action brought by Great Lakes Minerals, LLC against the State of Ohio and Joseph Testa, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court denying Ohio's motion to dismiss, holding that Ohio was protected by sovereign immunity and that Testa was immune from suit in his official capacity as Tax Commissioner of Ohio and that Testa, in his personal capacity, was dismissed based on the principle of comity.Great Lakes sued Defendants seeking a declaratory judgment that it was not subject to Ohio's commercial activity tax, monetary relief for the forced collection of taxes not owed, and a determination that it would be inequitable to require Great Lakes to defend an action in a foreign state. Ohio unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the complaint. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the State of Ohio and Testa in his official capacity were protected by sovereign immunity; and (2) under the principle of comity Testa is dismissed in his personal capacity. View "State of Ohio v. Great Lakes Minerals, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' opinion concluding that the trial court's alleged error of failing to strike a juror for cause was properly preserved for appellate review, holding that a one-to-one ratio of for cause strikes to would-be peremptory strikes is required to preserve a for cause strike error for review and that Plaintiff failed to preserve the error to strike the juror for cause.After Plaintiff's medical malpractice action was dismissed Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by refusing to strike a juror for cause. The court of appeals held (1) the error was properly preserved, and (2) the trial court committed reversible error by failing to strike the juror for cause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the holding in Sluss v. Commonwealth, 450 S.W.3d 279 (Ky. 2014), that stating would-be peremptory strikes verbally on the record constitutes substantial compliance with Gabbard v. Commonwealth, 297 S.W.3d 844 (Ky. 2009), is overruled; (2) the number of jurors a litigant identifies on her strike sheet must be the same number of jurors the litigant originally moved to strike for cause, and failure to abide by this rule will render the error unpreserved; and (3) Plaintiff failed to preserve the error to strike the juror for cause. View "Floyd v. Neal" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's denial of Dr. Senad Cemerlic and ABG Pain Management's motion to set aside a default judgment and reinstated the trial court's denial of the motion to set aside the default judgment, holding the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion.VerraLab JA, LLC filed a complaint alleging that Cemerlic and ABG breached an agreement between the parties. VerraLab filed a motion for default judgment arguing that Cemerlic and ABG had failed to answer or file any other responsive pleading and that they had been served through the Secretary of State's office. The circuit court granted the default judgment. Cemerlic and ABG later moved to set aside the default judgment arguing that they had not been served. The circuit court denied the motion to set aside, concluding that Cemerlic chose to refuse a certified letter from the Secretary of State. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the affirmative action taken to avoid service of process fell short of good cause to have the default motion to set aside. View "VerraLab JA LLC v. Cemerlic" 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