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Class action is available to plaintiffs seeking recovery under the State’s prevailing-wage law, Ky. Rev. Stat. 337.505-550, and the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the underlying action for backpay and statutory damages under the prevailing-wage law as a class action. A group of plaintiffs, claiming for themselves and for other similarly situated, brought the underlying action to recover backpay and statutory damages as authorized by section 337.505-550, asserting that they were not paid prevailing wages, benefits, or overtime in connection with their employment as truck drivers. The trial court granted Plaintiffs’ motion to certify this action as a class action under Ky. R. Civ. P. 23. The court of appeals vacated the class-action certification order, concluding that Plaintiffs had failed to establish commonality, one of the prerequisites to support a class action. In a separate concurring opinion, the judge argued that section 337.550(2) does not permit class action suits at all. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) class-action lawsuits are allowed under section 337.550(2); and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when certifying the class in this case. View "Hensley v. Haynes Trucking, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court declining to award post-judgment interest pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 360.040 in this action concerning a divorce judgment. Karen and James Samuel Doyle (Sam) were divorced in 1995. In 1998, the circuit court issued a judgment pertaining to reserved issues of child custody, support, and division of property. The judgment was silent as to interest. When Sam did make an equalization payment to Karen as ordered by circuit court, Karen filed a judgment lien against property owned by Sam, plus interest at the legal rate from 1998. In 2012, Sam moved to prohibit the collection of interest. The court granted the motion on the grounds that the 1998 judgment was unliquidated and the judgment was silent as to interest. Karen appealed, and the court of appeals reversed. On remand, the circuit court again denied an award of interest. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the balance of equities favored the statutory award of interest under the circumstances of this case. View "Doyle v. Doyle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Stigma damages are a measure of damages stemming from actual injury to property, but if remediation damages are settled and a claim on the stigma damages resulting from the actual damages is reserved, the injured party may be awarded stigma damages regardless of the partial settlement on remediation. Plaintiffs’ property was damaged from oil contamination. In a federal action, the parties entered into a partial settlement that allocated $60,000 to Plaintiffs for repair costs, intended to remedy actual damages to their property. Plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all claims against Defendants except for a reserved claims asserting the diminution of the value of their real estate due to the stigma resulting from the contamination. Plaintiffs then filed this state claim alleging negligence, trespass, and permanent nuisance. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the partial settlement barred the state action because Plaintiffs were fully compensated for the actual damages the contamination caused to their property. The circuit court dismissed the stigma damages claim, holding that Plaintiffs could not seek both the costs of remediation and the diminution in value due to stigma damages. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs’ claim for damages resulting from the stigma of the contamination may be recovered in addition to the settled repair costs. View "Muncie v. Wiesemann" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Ky. Rev. Stat. 532.130(2), which contains what the Court determined was an “outdated test” for ascertaining intellectual disability, is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Nearly twenty years ago, Defendant was convicted for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a teenage girl. Defendant was sentenced to death. Here, Defendant filed a postconviction motion under section 532.130(2) requesting that the trial court declare him to be intellectually disabled, which would preclude the imposition of the death penalty. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that any rule of law that states that a criminal defendant automatically cannot be ruled intellectually disabled and precluded from execution simply because he or she has an IQ of 71 or above is unconstitutional. The Court remanded the case to the trial court to conduct a hearing, make findings, and issue a ruling on the issue of Defendant’s potential intellectual disability following this Court’s and the United States Supreme Court’s guidelines on such a determination, especially as set forth in Moore v. Texas, 137 S.Ct. 1039 (2017). View "Woodall v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals determining that Appellant, Auslander Properties, LLC, was an “employer” and thus subject to certain employee safety regulations promulgated pursuant to the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Act (KOSHA), Ky. Rev. Stat. 338, and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., and that Appellant had violated duties owed to Appellee, Joseph Herman Nalley, under KOSHA. The trial court awarded Nalley compensatory damages for serious personal injuries he sustained while working on a roof at property owned by Appellant. The Supreme Court remanded the case for dismissal of Nalley’s claim, holding (1) contrary to Nalley’s argument, Appellant properly appealed the denial of summary judgment seeking reversal of the trial court judgment; and (2) Appellant was entitled to dismissal of the negligence per se claim because Nalley was an independent contractor rather than an employee of the LLC, and the responsibility for complying with safety laws applicable to the specialized work Nalley was performing at the time of his injury was upon Nalley. View "Auslander Properties, LLC v. Nalley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s complaint, holding that Plaintiff presented a genuine issue of material fact as to his breach of contract claim. Plaintiff brought claims against Defendant, his former employer, for breach of contract, quantum meruit, unjust enrichment, conversion, and fraud. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of conversion and denied the motion as to the remaining issues. Upon reconsideration, the trial court vacated its original opinion and order, holding that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on all claims. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded this case to the trial court for further factual determinations regarding the alleged breach of contract, holding that the parties formed a valid contract, and there were sufficient genuine issues of material fact for Plaintiff to withstand a motion for summary judgment. View "Baumann Paper Co., Inc. v. Holland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court, which denied Defendant’s Ky. R. Crim. P. 11.42 motion without a hearing. Defendant pled guilty to second-degree terroristic threatening, criminal attempt to commit kidnapping, and other offenses. Upon his release from prison, Defendant learned that he was obligated to register under Ky. Rev. Stat. 17.510 as a person who had committed sex crimes or crimes against minors. Defendant filed this Rule 11.42 motion, asserting that counsel had never discussed the sex offender registration requirement with him. The circuit court denied the motion without a hearing, concluding that counsel’s failure to inform his client of the post-conviction registration requirement and the circuit court’s failure to include registration notification in the sentencing order did not warrant action under Rule 11.42. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) counsel’s failure to advise Defendant of the sex offender registration requirement constituted deficient performance; and (2) the case must be remanded to the circuit court to evaluate whether Defendant’s counsel’s deficient performance caused him prejudice. View "Commonwealth v. Thompson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s denial of Defendant’s request to decrease his bond and instead increasing it from $10,000 to $20,000 full cash, holding that the indictment charging Defendant with certain crimes was a change in Defendant’s status sufficient to authorize the circuit court to summarily exercise a new discretion as to the amount of bail. Defendant was arraigned by the district court on a charge of one count of second-degree burglary. The court set Defendant’s bond at $10,000 full cash. Thereafter, the grand jury returned an indictment charging Defendant with second-degree burglary and theft by unlawful taking of property valued over $500 but less than $10,000. At the initial hearing, the circuit court fixed a bond “in the interim” at $10,000. Defendant then filed a Ky. R. Crim. P. 4.40(1) motion for bond reduction and for release on bail credit for his jail time. The circuit court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in modifying Defendant’s bond to $20,000 full cash and denying him bail credit. View "Jeter v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of four counts first-degree sodomy and one count of first-degree rape and Defendant’s sentence of life imprisonment on each sodomy conviction and twenty years’ imprisonment for the rape conviction, holding that none of Defendant’s claims of error warranted reversal. Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses was not violated when the prosecutor, with the court’s permission, blocked Defendant from viewing the victim during trial; and (2) any error in the admission of certain testimony did not require reversal. View "Walker v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the finding of the district court juvenile session that B.H. was incompetent to stand trial and dismissing the charges against him. B.H. was arrested for first-degree robbery and murder that occurred before he sustained severe injuries in an automobile accident. The Commonwealth moved to transfer B.H.’s case to circuit court. B.H. moved for a competency evaluation. The district court granted B.H.’s motion for a competency evaluation, conducted a competency hearing, and found B.H. incompetent to stand trial and unlikely to attain competency in the foreseeable future. The court then dismissed the charges without prejudice. On appeal, the court of appeals held that the Commonwealth had waived its right to contest any error by failing to object to the competency determination at any stage of litigation prior to discretionary review with the court of appeals. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the juvenile session of the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to conduct a competency hearing, and the Commonwealth waived its right to object to lack of particular case jurisdiction; and (2) the federal Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth support holding competency hearings, if necessary, prior to transfer proceedings. View "Commonwealth v. B.H." on Justia Law