Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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Plaintiff sued the doctor (Defendant) who twice performed surgery on Plaintiff to repair a fracture, alleging (1) Defendant made mistakes during the initial surgery that resulted in the failure of the fracture to heal, and (2) following the second surgery, the doctor failed to timely identify an infection, which necessitated two additional surgeries. A trial ensued. The judge declared a mistrial because Defendant had mentioned insurance several times in violation of a court order. After a second trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the doctor. The court entered an order granting Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions given Defendant’s “contemptuous conduct” in the first trial and the fact that Defendant compounded his conduct in the second trial. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial but affirmed the imposition of sanctions against Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and vacated the trial court’s order imposing sanctions on Defendant, holding (1) the trial court did not err when it denied Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial; and (2) the trial court erred in failing to notify Defendant that it was finding him in contempt and whether the contempt was civil or criminal. View "Jefferson v. Eggemeyer" on Justia Law

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Husband petitioned for dissolution of his marriage from Wife. Previous to filing this action, however, Husband was declared incompetent and Wife was appointed as his guardian and conservator. The trial court dismissed Husband’s petition on the basis that a person who has been declared incompetent cannot bring a legal action in Kentucky. The court of appeals affirmed. Both courts relied exclusively on the 1943 case of Johnson v. Johnson. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there is not a Johnson issue in this case because the guardian was not bringing this action as required by Civil Rule 17.03(1); and (2) it necessarily follows that this case was procedurally flawed. View "Riehle v. Riehle" on Justia Law

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Tim Agee, individually and on the behalf of the estate of his wife, Eva, sued Baptist Health Richmond, Inc. and other medical care providers alleging that Eva’s death was the result of medical negligence. During discovery, Agee requested from Baptist Health the production of certain documents. Baptist Health refused to produce the documents, claiming that they were protected from disclosure by the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005. Agee filed a motion to compel, which the trial court granted in part. Thereafter, Baptist Health filed an original action in the court of appeals seeking a writ of prohibition. The court of appeals denied the request, citing the plurality opinion in Tibbs v. Bunnell. The Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s discovery order and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the correct result in this case lay in middle ground between the plurality and the dissenting opinions in Tibbs. Remanded with instructions for the trial court to undertake the review set forth in this opinion. View "Baptist Health Richmond, Inc. v. Hon. William Clouse" on Justia Law

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On February 10, 2014, Landlord Bobby Turner provided his tenant, Lesley Shinkle, with written notice to vacate the premises. Eight days later, Turner filed a forcible detainer complaint against Shinkle. When the matter came before the district court on February 27, 2014, for the "inquisition" required by KRS 383.220, Shinkle moved to dismiss the complaint because Turner had failed to provide the one month's notice required by KRS 383.195 for terminating the tenancy. In recognition of the statutory deficiency, the district court deferred its consideration of Shinkle's motion and continued the inquisition until March 13, thus allowing one month to elapse from the date Shinkle first received the written notice to vacate. In the interim, Shinkle filed a formal written motion to dismiss arguing that Turner had no statutory right to commence a forcible detainer action prior to the expiration of the one-month statutory notice provision. At the March 13 inquisition, the district court denied Shinkle's motion to dismiss, reasoning that the one month statutory notice period had by then been satisfied. The court entered its verdict and judgment finding Shinkle guilty of forcible detainer. Shinkle appealed and the Circuit Court affirmed. The Court of Appeals denied Shinkle's motion for discretionary review. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that by filing his forcible detainer complaint only eight days after giving Shinkle notice to vacate, Turner was claiming a right to immediate possession that he did not lawfully have. The statutory elements of a forcible detainer were not yet met since Turner had, at that time, no presently enforceable right of possession. "As required by KRS 383.195, a landlord must give the tenant at least one month's written notice to vacate, and until that period expires, no forcible detainer is being committed." The complaint filed prior to the existence of the cause of action should have been dismissed pursuant to the motion properly raising the issue. View "Shinkle v. Turner" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the apportionment of damages between two insurance companies who provided underinsured motorist (UM) coverave to a passenger injured in an automobile accident in Bowling Green. The Circuit Court ordered the companies to share the damages pro rata in proportion to their respective policy limits. Countryway Insurance appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals, contending that the damages should not have been divided at all, but should have been apportioned entirely to United Financial, the insurer of the accident vehicle. To Countryway's dismay, the Court of Appeals panel decided that that argument was "half right:" the Court agreed that the damages should not have been divided, but in its view Countryway, the insurer of the injured passenger, bore full responsibility for the passenger's UM claim. The Supreme Court concluded the Court of Appeals erred in its analysis of the controlling case-law applicable to this matter, reversed and remanded to the Circuit Court for entry of an appropriate order in favor of Countryway. View "Countryway Ins. Co. v. United Financial Casualty Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The Magoffin County Board of Elections (the Board) and its members in their official capacities (Carson Montgomery, Susie Salyer, and Justin Williams, and Magoffin County Clerk Renee Arnett-Shepherd), and Democratic candidate for judge executive Charles Hardin, appealed a Court of Appeals decision to affirmed the setting aside the results of the November 4, 2014 election for Magoffin County judge executive and declaring the office vacant. The officially-tabulated vote count revealed that Republican candidate, Appellee John Montgomery, lost the election to Hardin by a mere twenty-eight votes. Montgomery filed this action to challenge the election results. Appellants contended: (1) that the trial court and the Court of Appeals nullified the election on grounds that were not set forth in Montgomery's petition to challenge the election, and thus deprived them of fair notice of such grounds; (2) that contrary to the trial court's conclusions, the election was conducted in substantial compliance with the applicable election laws; (3) that any violations of applicable election laws that occurred in the election were de minimus and had no impact on the result of the election; and (3) that Montgomery's evidence was insufficient to prove the illegalities he alleged and insufficient to prove that the result of the election was affected by any irregularities and improprieties which may have occurred. After review, the Kentucky Supreme Court concluded that Appellant Hardin was entitled to occupy the office of Magoffin County judge executive in accordance with the tabulated results of the November 4, 2014 election. View "Hardin v. Montgomery" on Justia Law

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Charles Wimberly filed an application for disability retirement benefits with the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KERS). A hearing officer recommended that Wimberly's application be denied and, before KERS could render a final decision, Wimberly filed a second application pursuant to Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 61.600(2). Following the recommendation of another hearing officer, KERS denied that application. Wimberly sought judicial review; the circuit court reversed KERS. KERS appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the circuit court. The Supreme Court granted discretionary review to address the parties' arguments regarding the application of the doctrine of res judicata and to determine whether the consumption of alcohol was or could be a pre-existing condition. Having reviewed the record and the arguments of the parties, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Kentucky Retirement Systems v. Wimberly" on Justia Law

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Dianne Carson first filed an application for retirement disability benefits in November 2007. Based on the recommendation of a hearing officer, the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KERS) denied Carson's claim. Carson did not seek judicial review of KERS's order, choosing instead to file a second application in October 2009. Based on a recommendation of a different hearing officer, KERS again denied Carson's claim. Carson sought judicial review and the circuit reversed and remanded with instructions for KERS to consider all of the medical evidence Carson submitted. The Court of Appeals affirmed. KERS argued that Carson's second application should have been dismissed under the doctrine of res judicata. "If res judicata applied to this action, Carson would have been barred from filing a second application that was based on the same claim as her first application. However, KRS 61.600(2) requires KERS to accept an employee's timely filed "reapplication based on the same claim of incapacity" and to reconsider the claim 'for disability if accompanied by new objective medical evidence.'" This case was remanded for KERS to undertake the correct review of the evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals. View "Kentycky Retirement Systems v. Carson" on Justia Law

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The Estate of Pratikshya Gurung filed a negligence action against Norton Hospital after Gurung was born with brain damage and quadriplegia. On appeal, Norton challenged the Court of Appeals' dismissal as moot of a writ action filed by Norton over a discovery dispute with the Estate. The court concluded that the Court of Appeals abused its discretion because its decision was not based on sound legal principles where Norton's writ action is not moot because relief can still be afforded. The court stated that it is true that the documents Norton alleges are privileged have now been provided to the Estate, but options remain. Accordingly, the court remanded for consideration of Norton's asserted privilege in light of the court's decision in Tibbs v. Bunnell. View "Norton Hosp. v. Hon. Barry L. Willett" on Justia Law

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Stanley M. Chesley requested relief from the Court of Appeals under CR 65.07, which authorizes a party to request injunctive relief from the circuit court in the form of a restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction in a final judgment. In this case, the entry of a final judgment on the breach of fiduciary duty, which required Chesley to comply with an unpaid judgment, did not occur during the pendency of the case and therefore cannot be viewed as being a temporary injunction. Instead of being an injunction, the order was a post-judgment order in furtherance of respondents' efforts to collect on the outstanding judgment against Chesley. Because the order was not an injunction, it is not subject to review under CR 65.07. Accordingly, Chesley is not entitled to relief under CR 65.09. The court therefore denied Chelsey's motion for interlocutory relief. View "Chesley v. Abbott" on Justia Law