Justia Kansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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Appellant was injured in a compensable workplace accident. Prior to his injury, Appellant was receiving social security retirement benefits and earning additional employment income without a reduction in his social security because he had reached full retirement age. Based on Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-501(h), the offset statute, an administrative law judge determined that Employer could use Appellant’s social security benefit to offset its workers compensation obligation. The Workers Compensation Board affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed the Board’s offset, holding that section 44-501(h) does not apply when the claimant has reached full retirement age and was already receiving social security retirement benefits at the time of injury. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Dickens v. Pizza Co., Inc. and its progeny, which limited the statutory offset under section 44-501(h) and permitted already-retired claimants working to supplement their social security at the time of injury, improperly give effect to a perceived legislative purpose underlying section 44-501 that is contrary to the statutory text’s clearly expressed meaning; and (2) section 44-501(h) unambiguously provides that any workers compensation payments are subject to the offset when the injured worker is simultaneously receiving social security retirement benefits. View "Hoesli v. Triplett, Inc." on Justia Law

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After the Prairie Village City Council voted to oust David Scott Morrison from his position on the City Council, the State brought a quo warranto petition requesting that Morrison be removed from office pursuant to Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1205. The district court entered an order removing Morrison for office, concluding that the evidence was sufficient to show that Morrison willfully engaged in misconduct while in office and willfully neglected to perform a duty enjoined upon him by law. The Court of Appeals reversed and ordered that Morrison be reinstated to his public office, concluding that the undisputed facts did not satisfy the criteria for judicial ouster as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed both the district court and the Court of Appeals, holding that the lower courts misapplied the standard required for ouster under sections 60-1205(1) and (2). Remanded for further proceedings. View "State v. Morrison" on Justia Law

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Robert Dumler was arrested for driving under the influence and transported to the sheriff’s office. On several occasions before a breath alcohol test was administered Dumler requested that he be permitted to confer with an attorney. The requesting officer never gave Dumler an opportunity to confer with an attorney, and Dumler did not repeat his request for an attorney after he failed his breath test. The suspension of Dumler’s driving privileges was upheld in administrative proceedings. Dumler petitioned the district court for review, arguing that his statutory right to counsel was violated. The district court denied relief. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that because Dumler did not ask to consult with an attorney after he failed to breath test, he had not invoked his statutory right to an attorney and, therefore, that right was not violated. The Supreme Court remanded with directions, holding (1) the district court applied an incorrect legal standard on the question of whether Dumler’s post-testing right to counsel was violated, and therefore, a remand was required; and (2) suppression of the alcohol testing result is the appropriate remedy for the denial of a driver’s statutory right to counsel. Remanded. View "Dumler v. Kan. Dep’t of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) arrested an indigent criminal offender. The offender sustained injuries during the arrest and was driven to the emergency room at Kansas University Medical Center, where he received treatment. The next day, the offender was transported to the Wyandotte County Jail, where he awaited trial on felony charges. The University of Kansas Hospital Authority demanded payment from both the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas, City Kansas (County) and KHP. When both entities refused to pay for the offender’s expenses, the Hospital Authority filed suit against both the County and KHP. The district court and Court of Appeals concluded that KHP was liable for the offender’s medical expenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the offender was under arrest and in KHP’s custody at the time he was taken to the hospital for treatment, and, based on that custody, KHP was liable for the offender’s reasonable medical expenses. View "Univ. of Kan. Hosp. Auth. v. Bd. of County Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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Dick McClary submitted an application for health insurance to Golden Rule Insurance Company that failed to disclose proposed insured Patti Denney’s preexisting condition. Golden Rule issued a policy covering Denney, but later denied coverage for a proposed surgery based on the fact that the conditions documented in Denney’s medical records were not disclosed in her insurance application. The Kansas Insurance Department imposed sanctions on Golden Rule for unfair claim settlement practices, concluding that Golden Rule had wrongfully denied Denney coverage for a medically necessary procedure. The district court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that McClary was not acting as Golden Rule’s soliciting agent when he submitted Denney’s health insurance application. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the court of appeals’ decision on the agency question, as substantial evidence supported the conclusion that McClary had the actual authority to solicit and submit applications directly to Golden Rule; and (2) reversed the Department and the district court on their ruling that Golden Rule violated Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-2404(9)(f) but affirmed the finding of a violation of subsection (d); and (3) affirmed the Department’s remedy. View "Golden Rule Ins. Co. v. Tomlinson" on Justia Law

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A baby was born premature on a city street in Wichita. A child in need of care (CINC) petition was filed, and custody of the baby was granted to the Secretary of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). Foster Parents accepted the baby as their foster child, and Mother voluntarily relinquished her parental rights. SRS then initiated efforts for Maternal Cousins to adopt the child. Foster Parents, however, also wanted to adopt the child. The CINC court concluded that SRS had failed to make reasonable efforts or progress towards the child’s adoption and granted Foster Parents custody of the child with permission to adopt. The district court approved Foster Parents’ adoption of the child. Maternal Cousins appealed from the CINC proceeding. Foster Parents filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the CINC order was not one of those enumerated in the Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children (Revised Code) as appealable. The court of appeals denied the motion and then reversed the CINC court. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and dismissed the appeal, holding that there was no appellate jurisdiction to review the post-termination decisions at issue under the Revised Code’s appellate jurisdiction statute. View "In re N.A.C." on Justia Law

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Johnson County Sheriff’s Department Master Deputy Michael Maurer cracked a department vehicle’s windshield with a binder while attempting to shoo away a horsefly. Maurer initially reported that the cracked windshield was caused by a rock, but after a fellow deputy reported the true facts, Maurer eventually admitted his responsibility in damaging the windshield. After an investigation and hearing, the Johnson County Sheriff terminated Maurer’s employment for violating the department’s standards on truthfulness. Maurer appealed to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Civil Service Board (CSB), which reversed the Sheriff’s decision. The district court vacated the CSB’s decision and remanded to the CSB. On remand, the CSB upheld the Sheriff’s decision to terminate Maurer. The district court affirmed the CSB’s second decision. The court of appeals affirmed both district court decisions, upholding Maurer’s termination. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ decision affirming the district court’s decision to vacate the CSB’s first decision, holding that the CSB exceeded the scope of its authority and its decision was not substantially supported by the evidence. View "Denning v. Johnson County Sheriff's Civil Serv. Bd." on Justia Law

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Ector Manuel Savala-Quintero sustained injuries when he jumped through the fourth-story window of room in the Wabaunsee County jail where he had been placed by sheriff officials during an investigation. The University of Kansas Hospital Authority sued the Board of Wabaunsee County Commissioners for reimbursement of the medical expenses incurred in its treatment of Savala-Quintero. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the County. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding that the County was not obligated to pay the medical expenses of Savala-Quintero because, although Savala-Quintero was temporarily detained at the county jail, he was not a prisoner committed to or held in the jail at the time he was injured. View "Univ. of Kan. Hosp. Auth. v. Bd. of Comm’rs " on Justia Law

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Claimant was injured in a car accident on his way home from work. Claimant’s co-worker was driving the vehicle at the time. The Workers Compensation Board entered an award in favor of Claimant, deciding that Claimant’s injury arose out of and in the course of his employment. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Claimant’s claim was barred by the “going and coming” rule. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision and affirmed the Board’s decision, holding that there was substantial competent evidence in the record to support the Board’s finding that the accident occurred while Claimant was in the course and scope of his employment. View "Williams v. Petromark Drilling, LLC" on Justia Law

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The taxpayers in this case were out-of-state natural gas marketing companies, out-of-state local distribution companies that were certified as public utilities in their states, and out-of-state municipalities. Each taxpayer bought natural gas from producers or other marketers then delivered it to pipelines under contracts allowing the taxpayers to withdraw equivalent amounts of gas at a later time from out-of-state distribution points. The taxpayers filed requests for ad valorem tax exemption, claiming the natural gas was exempt under Kan. Const. art. 11, 1, which exempts merchants' inventory from ad valorem taxation but does not exempt tangible personal property owned by a public utility. The Kansas Court of Tax Appeals determined the natural gas was not exempt because the taxpayers were public utilities pursuant to Kan. Stat. Ann. 79-5a01. The Supreme Court held (1) the taxation at issue did not violate the Commerce Clause or the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution; (2) section 79-5a01 was constitutional as applied to the out-of-state local distribution companies; but (3) section 79-5a01 was unconstitutional as applied to the out-of-state natural gas marketing companies and those taxpayers that were out-of-state municipalities because those entities were not public utilities under the meaning of the statute. View "In re Property Valuation Appeals of Various Applicants" on Justia Law