Justia Kansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals remanding this case with instructions to enter judgment as a matter of law in favor of the Trust Company of Kansas (TCK) and reverse the jury's verdict finding TCK liable for negligent training, holding that the trial court's jury instructions were erroneous and that, therefore, the case must be remanded for a new trial on proper instructions. Marilyn Parsons sued TCK and its employee, Jon King, asserting various theories of liability. After a trial, the jury found JCK liable for negligent training and King liable for breach of fiduciary duty. The court of appeals reversed as to TCK, finding the evidence insufficient. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court's instructions failed to present the jury with an accurate statement of negligence law and improperly separated Parsons' negligence claim against TCK into two causes of action; and (2) the legal errors affected the verdict. View "Reardon v. King" on Justia Law

by
In this fee dispute between a hospital that provided medical services to an injured worker and a workers compensation carrier that paid the hospital less than the billed amount for those services the Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the Workers Compensation Appeals Board upholding a hearing officer's ruling in favor of the carrier, holding that the relief sought by the hospital and ordered by the court of appeals could not be granted in this proceeding. In ruling in favor of the carrier, the hearing officer held that the carrier had appropriately paid the amount required by the schedule for maximum medical fees established by the director of the Division of Workers Compensation. The Board affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Board's enforcement of the maximum medical fee schedule was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable because the applicable fee limiting provision had been accidentally created. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the issue of the rulemaking by the director, and the results of any accidental rulemaking, were not properly before the Board; and (2) the Board's refusal to expand the parameters of the fee dispute statute was not unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious. View "Via Christi Hospitals Wichita, Inc. v. Kan-Pak, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the City of Overland Park, holding that dismissal was improper on that ground that Plaintiffs would not be able to show that the City and its police officers owed them an individual duty and based on discretionary function immunity under the Kansas Tort Claims Act (KTCA). In their petition Plaintiffs alleged that several armed representatives of defendant C-U-Out Bail Bonds, LLC forcibly entered the private residence occupied by Plaintiffs and that police officers withdrew from the scene, leaving Plaintiffs alone and at the mercy of the armed representatives. Plaintiffs sued C-U-Out and the City, alleging as against the City "negligent failure to protect." The district court dismissed the City as a defendant, ruling that Plaintiffs failed to state a valid cause of action. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs alleged sufficient facts to support (1) potential intentional illegal conduct on the part of the bail bondsmen, (2) a police undertaking of a duty to investigate owed to Plaintiffs individually, and (3) no discretionary function immunity for the City under the KTCA. View "Williams v. C-U-Out Bail Bonds, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that his transfer was retaliatory, holding that the common-law tort of retaliation may be premised on an employer's action short of dismissal or demotion. Plaintiff, a Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) trooper, alleged that the KHP retaliated by requiring him to move across the state to keep his job after the Kansas Civil Service Board ordered the agency to reinstate him to work. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed, although the lower courts disagreed as to inquiries at issue on this appeal. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case, holding (1) common-law retaliation may be premised on the involuntary job relocation alleged in this case; (2) sovereign immunity did not bar Plaintiff's claim; but (3) there were genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment. View "Hill v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court, holding that the noneconomic damages cap under Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-19a02 violated Plaintiff's right under section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights because it intrudes upon the jury's determination of the compensation owed her to redress her injury. In this auto-truck accident case, Plaintiff received a jury award of $335,000. The district court applied section 60-19a02 to reduce Plaintiff's jury award to a judgment of $283,490.86. The district court acknowledged that Plaintiff's case was distinguishable from Miller v. Johnson, 289 P.3d 1098 (Kan. 2012), in which a majority of the Court upheld the application of the noneconomic damages cap to a medical malpractice plaintiff's jury award, but ultimately ruled that section 60-19a02 was constitutional. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in Plaintiff's favor on the jury's full award, holding that the cap on damages imposed by section 60-19a02 is facially unconstitutional because it violates section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. View "Hilburn v. Enerpipe Ltd." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's suit against Defendants, two commercial drinking establishments, for injuries he suffered in an accident with a vehicle whose driver consumed alcohol beverages at Defendants' establishments before the collision, holding that the district court properly dismissed the suit. On appeal, Plaintiff asked the Supreme Court to reconsider longstanding Kansas caselaw insulating commercial drinking establishments from liability for torts committed by their intoxicated patrons. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision after reaffirming the common law under the principles of stare decisis, holding (1) this Court declines to overrule Ling v. Jan's Liquors, 703 P.2d 731 (Kan. 1985), and Plaintiff failed to state a claim for negligence; and (2) Plaintiff failed to state a claim for aiding and abetting under Restatement (Second) or Torts 876. View "Kudlacik v. Johnny's Shawnee, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendants' motions to dismiss Plaintiff's petition alleging that Defendants - medical providers and facilities - committed negligence and medical malpractice resulting in a patient's wrongful death, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet the evidentiary standard required when responding to a motion to dismiss with facts outside the pleadings. In dismissing Plaintiff's petition, the district court found that the petition was filed one day after the statute of limitations had expired. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that her attorney electronically submitted the petition for filing before the statute of limitations ran and promptly responded when the petition was returned because of an electronic filing issue. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no evidence in the record supported Plaintiff's factual assertion that her counsel timely submitted the same petition as the one eventually file stamped by the clerk. Therefore, the Court could not reach the substance of Plaintiff's argument that a document is filed for purposes of the statute of limitations when uploaded to the electronic filing system rather than when the clerk of court accepts and file stamps it. View "Lambert v. Peterson" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the Kansas Workers Compensation Board (Board) affirming an ALJ's denial of Helen Knoll's application for hearing with the Kansas Division of Workers Compensation (Division), holding that Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-523(f)(1) controlled Knoll's claim and required its dismissal. More than five years after Knoll filed her application with the Division, Employer moved to have Knoll's claim dismissed under section 44-523(f)(1) because the claim had not proceeded to a final hearing within three years of the filing of an application for hearing. The ALJ concluded that Knoll's motion for extension was timely and entered an award of compensation. The Board affirmed the ALJ's denial of the motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that dismissal was appropriate because Knoll did not file a motion for extension within three years of filing her application for hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) if a workers compensation claimant filed an application for hearing under Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-534 after Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-523(f)(1) took effect in 2011, the 2011 statute governs the claim; and (2) because Knoll filed her application for hearing six months after the 2011 amendments became effective, section 44-523(f)(1) controlled her claim. View "Knoll v. Olathe School District No. 233" on Justia Law

by
In this appeal concerning the statutory definition of "idiopathic causes" contained in the statute excluding benefits for certain accidents or injuries the Supreme Court held that the Workers Compensation Appeals Board improperly denied benefits to Terrill Graber, who was injured when he fell down a workplace stairway, holding that there was not substantial competent evidence to support the Board's finding that the accident or injury arose directly or indirectly from an idiopathic cause under the statutory exclusion. There was no evidence presented in this case showing why Graber fell down the workplace stairway. The Board construed the term "idiopathic causes" in Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-508(f)(3)(A)(iv) broadly to cover all unknown causes and denied compensation. The court of appeals reversed after defining the term more narrowly. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the case to the Board for reconsideration consistent with this opinion, holding that the term "idiopathic causes" in this context means medical conditions or medical events of unknown origin that are peculiar to the injured individual. View "Estate of Graber v. Dillon Companies" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals vacating the jury verdict in favor of Charles Dawson as to his claim that the negligence of his employer, BNSF Railway Company, caused his back injuries, holding that reasonable minds could reach different conclusions as to whether Dawson’s claim was timely. In 1979, Dawson began his employment with BNSF as a switchman and brakeman and later worked as a conductor. In 2008, Dawson began experiencing back pain. In 2011, Dawson filed this action against BNSF under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) alleging that BNSF’s negligence led to his injuries. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dawson. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the district court erred when it denied BNSF’s motion for judgment as a matter of law because Dawson’s cumulative claim was time barred and that Dawson’s acute injury claims were time barred. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and affirmed the district court, holding that the district court did not err when it submitted the statute of limitations question to the jury. View "Dawson v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law