Articles Posted in Consumer Law

by
Via Christi Regional Medical Center, Inc. filed a hospital lien to collect on its bill for medical services provided to Ivan Reed after Reed's car collided with a Union Pacific Railroad train. The lien purported to encumber a portion of Reed's settlement with Union Pacific. Via Christi subsequently brought this action against Reed to enforce its lien. Reed counterclaimed, asserting that Via Christi, in an effort to enforce the lien, had engaged in deceptive and unconscionable practices in violation of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. The district court judge entered judgment in favor of Via Christ on the lien and against Reed on his counterclaims. The court of appeals affirmed the enforceability of Via Christi's lien. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Via Christi's failure to strictly comply with the requirements of Kan. Stat. Ann. 65-407 rendered its lien ineffective and unenforceable against Reed; (2) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Via Christi knew or should have known that it misrepresented the amount it was owed for services rendered; and (3) the lower courts erred in ruling as a matter of law that a hospital's filing and pursuit of a lien could never be unconscionable. Remanded. View "Via Christi Reg'l Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Reed" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs were two Kansas residents who entered into an agreement with an out-of-state limited liability company (LLC) to assist them in managing their consumer debt and in dealing with their creditors. Plaintiffs brought an action against the LLC, its managing member, and other entities in federal court for alleged violations of the Kansas Credit Services Organization Act (KCSOA) and the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (KCPA). The U.S. district court certified two questions to the Kansas Supreme Court regarding the application of KCSOA and KCPA to attorneys and law firms. The Supreme Court answered by holding (1) If an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Kansas and who is acting within the course and scope of his or her practice is exempt from the provisions of the KCSOA, the attorney's law firm is also exempt; and (2) attorneys are not inherently exempt from the reach of the KCPA by virtue of the doctrine of separation of powers, but certain statutory remedies may be unconstitutional if they encroach on the traditional exclusive powers of the court, especially the powers relating to issuing and regulating the license to practice law. View "Hays v. Ruther" on Justia Law

by
Seller and his real estate agent (Agent) entered into an agency agreement requiring Agent to inform potential buyers of material defects in Seller's home of which she had actual knowledge. Seller completed a signed a seller's disclosure form. After Buyers purchased the home, Buyers filed this lawsuit against Seller, Agent, and Agent's brokerage firm (Firm), alleging, inter alia, fraud, negligent misrepresentation for providing false representations in the disclosure form, breach of contract, and violations of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (KCPA). The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims. The court of appeals reversed the district court's summary judgment in favor of Seller and affirmed summary judgment in favor of Agent and Firm. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) erred in granting summary judgment to Seller on Buyers' fraudulent inducement, fraud by silence, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract claims; and (2) erred in granting summary judgment to Agent and Firm for Buyers' negligent misrepresentation and KCPA claims. Remanded. View "Stechschulte v. Jennings" on Justia Law

by
In the garnishment action below, Plaintiffs sought to collect the consent judgments they had previously obtained in settlement of their tort actions against Americold Corporation, which was insured by Northwestern Pacific Indemnity Company (NPIC). NPIC, the garnishee in the instant action, appealed the district court's adverse rulings, contending that the underlying judgments against Americold had become dormant and extinguished, thus depriving the district court of subject matter jurisdiction to proceed with this garnishment action. Finding in favor of NPIC on that issue, the Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) when the district court entered its judgment against NPIC in this garnishment proceeding, Plaintiffs' underlying consent judgments against Americold had been extinguished by operation of the dormancy and revivor statutes; (2) because Americold was not legally obligated to pay an unenforceable judgment, NPIC was no longer indebted to Americold under its contract to pay the judgments for which Americold was legally liable; and (3) accordingly, without an indebtedness from NPIC to Americold, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to grant Plaintiffs judgment against NPIC in a garnishment proceeding. Remanded with directions to dismiss these garnishment proceedings. View "Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. v. Americold Corp." on Justia Law

by
The Taranto Group contracted with two outside vendors to send out advertising via facsimile transmissions on its behalf. It was later calculated that at least 5,000 transmissions were made in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). A doctor brought an action individually and as a class representative against the Taranto Group, seeking damages and injunction relief under the TCPA and tort damages for conversion. A professional corporation then sought to intervene as an additional class representative. The district court issued an order certifying the proposed class and, in an amended order, certified the order for interlocutory appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's determination that class certification was appropriate in this case, holding, among other things, that the district court (1) correctly found the plaintiffs met their burden of demonstrating that they met the statutory requirements for class certification, (2) properly determined that a class action in this case was superior to individual small claims actions, and (3) properly concluded that a class action would avoid inconsistent adjudications. View "Critchfield Physical Therapy v. The Taranto Group, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Gabriel Gaumer filed suit against Rossville Truck and Tractor Company, alleging negligence and strict liability for injuries caused by a used hay baler purchased from Rossville. The district court granted Rossville's motion for summary judgment on both the negligence and strict liability claims. The court of appeals affirmed the district court's decision regarding Gaumer's negligence claim but reversed on his strict liability claim. Rossville petitioned for review, and the Supreme Court granted the petition on the single issue of whether strict liability can be applied to a seller of used goods. After analyzing both the state's common law and the Kansas Product Liability Act, the Court held that sellers of used product are subject to strict liability in Kansas. The decision of the district court was therefore reversed, and the decision of the court of appeals was affirmed. Remanded. View "Gaumer v. Rossville Truck & Tractor Co." on Justia Law

by
Judith Berry brought negligence and consumer protection claims against defendants National Medical Services and Compass Vision after her urinalysis tests conducted as part of Berry's participation in the Kansas Nurses Assistance Program (KNAP) showed positive results, which meant Berry tested positive for substance abuse in violation of Berry's KNAP agreement. Berry claimed Defendants were negligent in designing, implementing, promoting, and managing their testing protocol and that Defendants knew that because she was a participant in KNAP, her nursing license would be in jeopardy if she tested positive. The district court dismissed Berry's petition with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The court of appeals reversed on the negligence claim, finding that Berry was a foreseeable plaintiff, that the probability of harm was foreseeable, and that there was no public policy against imposing a duty on Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Berry was a foreseeable plaintiff and the probability of harm was foreseeable; and (2) there was no public policy to extend protection to Defendants simply because they contracted with a government agency. Remanded. View "Berry v. Nat'l Med. Servs., Inc." on Justia Law