Justia Kansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics
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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

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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

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The Supreme Court held that summary judgment was improperly granted to a title company on negligence and breach of fiduciary duty claims that arose out of the company’s omission of a reserved mineral interest in a deed and its handling of a later conveyance. In granting summary judgment, the district court determined that the relevant statute of limitations barred the claims. A court of appeals panel reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) as to the negligence claim, a genuine issue of material fact existed as to when the cause of action accrued, and the case must therefore be remanded for further proceedings; and (2) the breach of fiduciary duty claim was not excusable from further litigation because of the statute of limitations, as the claim was brought well within the allowable period. View "LCL, LLC v. Falen" on Justia Law

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After a second mistrial, Appellant was convicted of sex-related crimes. The convictions were affirmed on appeal. Appellant later filed a Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion alleging ineffective assistance of both trial counsel and direct appeal counsel. The district court ultimately granted the motion and reversed the conviction. Thereafter, pursuant to a plea agreement, Appellant entered an Alford plea on different charges. In exchange, the State dropped the original charges. Between entering into the plea agreement and sentencing, Appellant filed this legal malpractice action against trial and appellate counsel and the Board of Indigents’ Defense Services (BIDS). The district court ruled that BIDS lacked the capacity to be sued, that Appellant’s Alford plea foreclosed the relief sought, and that Appellant’s claim was time barred. The Court of Appeal agreed with the district court with the exception of the statute of limitations issue, ruling that Appellant’s claim was timely filed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the Court of Appeals correctly found that BIDS is not subject to suit in a legal malpractice action; (2) Defendant may pursue this legal malpractice claim without first demonstrating actual innocence of the charged crimes; and (3) this suit was timely filed under the applicable statute of limitations. View "Mashaney v. Bd. of Indigents' Defense Servs." on Justia Law

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The Kansas State Board of Healing Arts (Board) filed a formal disciplinary action against Dr. Amir Friedman that resulted in an order of the Board revoking Friedman's license to practice medicine and surgery in the state. The district court upheld the Board's order. Friedman appealed, raising several issues, including the question of whether the Board had jurisdiction to initiate a revocation proceeding after Friedman's license had expired. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board had jurisdiction to revoke Friedman's license because Friedman was practicing medicine under the authority of a license issued by the Board when he committed the misconduct at issue in the revocation proceeding; and (2) substantial evidence supported the administrative hearing officer's initial order and the Board's final order. View "Friedman v. State Bd. of Healing Arts" on Justia Law

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This case arose as an interpleader action to settle the rights to one-half of a brokerage commission resulting from a residential real estate transaction. Reece & Nicholas Realtors, Inc. (RAN), the listing broker, refused to split the brokerage commission with Patrick McGrath, who acted as the broker for the buyer. McGrath was a licensed Kansas attorney but was not licensed under the Kansas Real Estate Brokers' and Salespersons' License Act (KREBSLA). RAN contended it was statutorily prohibited from paying a commission to any person not licensed under the KREBSLA. McGrath maintained that, as an attorney, he was exempt from the requirements of the KREBSLA. The district court granted RAN's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an attorney is exempt from the provisions of the KREBLA, including the prohibition against splitting a fee with a nonlicensee, only to the extent he or she is performing activities that are encompassed within or incidental to the practice of law; (2) this attorney exemption does not create an exception to the commission-splitting prohibition of KREBSLA; and (3) consequently, an attorney who is not licensed under the KREBSLA cannot share in a real estate brokerage commission. View "Stewart Title of the Midwest v. Reece & Nichols Realtors" on Justia Law