Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s wrongful death suit. Plaintiff received workers’ compensation death benefits after her husband was killed while acting within the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiff participated in two wrongful death cases stemming from her husband’s death, both based on the Kansas wrongful death statute. Plaintiff filed a state court action in a Kansas district court and joined a federal action filed by her husband’s son in a federal district court. The plaintiffs eventually settled their wrongful death claims with the third-party tortfeasors. The federal court approved the settlement. After the federal case concluded, Plaintiff moved the district court to rule that her share of the federal settlement was attributable to her damages for loss of consortium and loss of spousal services, which are damages statutorily exempt from the workers compensation lien. The district court judge denied the motion and dismissed the case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that once the federal judge entered judgment approving the parties’ settlement agreement there was no longer a case or controversy underlying Plaintiff’s wrongful death action in Kansas, and therefore, it was proper for the district judge to dismiss the case. View "Heimerman v. Rose" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal arising from wrongful death lawsuits alleging that Bolton Township and Cowley County negligently failed to provide adequate traffic-control devices on a rural road that abruptly ends at a riverbank was whether the Township had a legal duty to place the devices and whether the County was immune from liability. The district court entered summary judgment in the Township’s favor on all claims, ruling that the Township had no legal duty under the applicable statutes to place traffic-control devices, guidance, or other warnings on the township road. As to the County, the district court granted summary judgment in part, ruling that the County was immune under the Kansas Tort Claims Act (KTCA) for failing to place an advisory speed plaque on the road but that a jury question existed as to whether the County was statutorily immune for failing to post a “Dead End” or “No Outlet” sign on the road. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the Township had no legal duty to place traffic-control devices along the road; and (2) the County was immune from liability for the signage claims under the KTCA’s discretionary function exceptions. View "Patterson v. Cowley County, Kansas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this personal injury case, the district court erred when it dismissed Plaintiff’s intentional tort claim and denied her request to seek punitive damages. Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant after Defendant drove his parents’ truck over Plaintiff’s feet in the high school parking lot. The district court dismissed most of Plaintiff’s claims, Defendant conceded he was negligent, and the case was submitted to a jury on the appropriate measure of Plaintiff’s actual damages. Plaintiff accepted the jury’s award of actual damages but appealed the adverse rulings on her other claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) the court of appeals properly affirmed the district court’s rulings with respect to Plaintiff’s negligent entrustment and uninsured motorist claims; but (2) the district court did not properly evaluate the evidence concerning Defendant’s state of mind and its impact on the legal theories and damages available to Plaintiff pursuant to Kansas law. View "McElhaney v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that certain evidence in this action filed under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) was improperly admitted and reversing the jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff. After slipping on diesel fuel spilled by a coworker, Plaintiff sued his employer, BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), under FELA. At trial, Plaintiff introduced evidence that the coworker had been disciplined for his conduct. BNSF objected to the evidence, arguing that the discipline was a subsequent remedial measure barred by Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-451. The district court overruled BNSF’s objection. The jury found that BNSF negligently caused Plaintiff’s injuries and awarded $1.72 million in damages. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial, concluding that the evidence of the coworker’s discipline was barred by section 60-451. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the disciplinary evidence, which qualified as a subsequent remedial measure was admitted for improper purposes under section 60-451; and (2) the error was not harmless. View "Bullock v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an intentional tort lawsuit against Defendants for injuries he allegedly suffered as a result of a battery. The case was dismissed for lack of prosecution. Plaintiff refiled his case using the Kansas savings statute, Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-518. The district court dismissed the case once again for lack of prosecution. Plaintiff then filed this third action, attempting to invoke section 6-518 a second time. The district court dismissed the action with prejudice. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding (1) a party may use section 60-518 only one time to resurrect a case dismissed for a reason other than upon the merits when the statute of limitations for the underlying cause of action has expired; and (2) therefore, this action was barred by the statute of limitations and properly dismissed with prejudice. View "Lozano v. Alvarez" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether the firefighter’s rule should be extended to law enforcement officers. Officer Juan Apodaca and Officer Jonathan Dulaney suffered serious injuries after attempting to help Matthew Willmore, who had fallen asleep at the wheel. The officers filed a petition alleging that Willmore’s negligence caused them to suffer personal injuries and related damages. They also asserted a claim of negligent entrustment against Willmore’s father. The Willmores filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the firefighter’s rule barred the officer’s claims. Thereafter, Officer Dulaney dismissed his claims against the Willmores. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Willmores, concluding (1) the firefighter’s rule “should be and is extended to law enforcement officers”; and (2) the firefighter’s rule barred Officer Apodaca from recovering in this action because he was acting within the scope of his duties as a law enforcement officer at the time of the accident. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the firefighter’s rule, first enunciated in Calvert v. Garvey Elevators, Inc., is extended to law enforcement officers; and (2) the district judge correctly granted summary judgment to Defendants on all claims because of application of the firefighter’s rule. View "Apodaca v. Willmore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiffs were the heirs of two individuals who were killed in a single-vehicle accident. Plaintiffs brought this wrongful death action against Cowley County, Bolton Township, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for failure to provide adequate warnings, signs or barriers on portions of the road where the accident occurred. The district court granted partial summary judgment to the County and full summary judgment to the Township and the Kansas Department of Wildlife. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the County did not have a duty to initiate an engineering study; (2) the County is immune from liability under the discretionary judgment exception of the Kansas Tort Claims Act (KTCA) but not immune from liability under the recreational exception of the KTCA for any failure to place an advisory speed plaque or warnings sings on its portion of 322nd Road; (3) the Township had no duty to place traffic control devices or other warning signs on its portion of 322nd Road; and (4) the KTCA exception for failing to inspect the property of another does not apply to the facts presented in this case. View "Patterson v. Cowley County, Kansas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Jeffrey Sperry, an inmate at the Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF), filed a lawsuit seeking civil damages from the LCF Warden and the Secretary of Corrections, alleging that he had been exposed to lead paint and asbestos while incarcerated at LCF. The district court dismissed all claims except Sperry’s claims against the Warden and Secretary in their individual capacities. Approximately two years later, the district court dismissed all remaining claims when ruling on multiple motions to dismiss filed by the Warden and Secretary. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of Sperry’s state law claims and reversed the dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim. The Warden and Secretary petitioned for review, arguing that the district court and court of appeals erred in considering material outside the pleadings when ruling on motions to dismiss. Sperry cross-petitioned for review, arguing that the lower courts erred in ruling that his failure to attach proof that he exhausted his administrative remedies required dismissing his state law claims. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision that Sperry’s claims must be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, holding that the district court and court of appeals erred in not enforcing the requirements of Supreme Court Rule 141, and the error was not harmless. View "Sperry v. McKune" on Justia Law