Justia Kentucky Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals and Workers' Compensation Board affirming the determination of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (CALJ) denying Appellant's motion to reopen his workers' compensation claim as time barred, holding that the CALJ correctly denied Appellant's motion to reopen as untimely.In 1996 and 1997, Appellant incurred work-related injuries to his right and left shoulders. Income benefits were paid for his right shoulder injury, but no mention of the left shoulder injury appeared in the settlement agreement. In 2018, Appellant moved to reopen the left shoulder claim, asserting that he was entitled to income benefits based on a recent surgery and resulting increased impairment. The CALJ denied the motion. The Board and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's motion was untimely. View "Slaughter v. Tube Turns" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court certified that sovereign immunity as to monetary damages was waived neither as to the KRFRA nor in conjunction with Ky. Rev. Stat. 446.070 in this case.Plaintiff was arrested while protesting and was booked and photographed by Metro Police. When photographing Plaintiff, Metro officers allegedly ordered Plaintiff to remove her headscarf. On that basis, Plaintiff alleged a state claim under KRFRA. The Supreme Court granted the United States District Court, Western District of Kentucky's request for certification of law as to whether the General Assembly waived sovereign immunity from suit in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act (KRFRA) and whether the use of Ky. Rev. Stat. 446.070 to seek redress for violations of the underlying statute nonetheless entitled government Metro to immunity from suit. The Supreme Court held that KRFRA's absence of an explicit waiver of sovereign immunity and section 446.070's lack of authority to waive sovereign immunity was apparent from the language of both statutes. View "Ruplinger v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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In this case related to the disbursement of Purdue Pharma funds, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' grant of summary judgment for the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and Dolt Thompson declaring that a contract was enforceable and a payment to Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Kinney, P.S.C. (Dolt Thompson) was proper, holding that the circuit court did not err.The then-attorney general filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma regarding the OxyContin epidemic. The OAG selected Dolt Thompson to assist in the Commonwealth's litigation against Purdue Pharma. After the OAG settled with Purdue Pharma it paid Dolt Thompson in part. The Legislature then passed a 2016 budget bill directing payment of attorney's fees and expenses in the Purdue Pharma case. The OAG filed a complaint seeking a declaration that the payment to Dolt Thompson was proper. The Finance Cabinet filed an action against Dolt Thompson. The circuit court consolidated the cases and entered summary judgment for the OAG and Dolt Thompson. The court of appeals reversed and ordered the circuit court to allow the Cabinet to conduct discovery. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Legislature acted within its authority in stating that the attorney's fees should be paid prior to any other disbursement of the Purdue Pharma funds. View "Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, P.S.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' opinion affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board, holding that Karen Woodall, the surviving spouse of an employee who died as a result of a workplace accident, was entitled to a statutory income benefit and that the time limitation as to the lump-sum benefit does not violate the United States and Kentucky constitutional guarantees of equal protection or Kentucky's prohibition against special legislation.Ten years after a workplace injury, Steven Spillman died as a result of a surgery required by that injury. Woodall, Spillman's surviving spouse, sought income benefits under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.750(1)(a), and Spillman's estate sought a lump-sum benefit under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.750(6). The Board found that Woodall was eligible for the surviving spouse income benefits but that the Estate was not entitled to the lump-sum death benefit. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 342.750(1)(a) contains no temporal limitation on Woodall's receipt of income benefits; and (2) the time limitation as to the lump-sum benefit is constitutional. View "Calloway County Sheriff's Department v. Woodall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction of second-degree manslaughter by complicity, holding that the trial court committed reversible error when it allowed the Commonwealth to present a thirty-five-minute video of a police interview with Defendant in which Defendant was shown handcuffed and wearing an inmate's orange jumpsuit.After Defendant was arrested, an Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney and the lead homicide detective met Defendant and his attorney at the jail. They recorded their questioning of him, and throughout the interview, Defendant was handcuffed and wore an orange jumpsuit. During trial, the court allowed the Commonwealth to display the video version of the recording to the jury. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant's conviction, concluding that any error in admitting the video was harmless. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, while the video was not "inherently prejudicial," the video prejudiced Defendant, and the Commonwealth did not satisfy its burden of demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that the video did not impact the verdict. View "Deal v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of murder and sentence of life imprisonment, holding that there was no prejudicial error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the trial court (1) did not err by refusing to remove six jurors for cause; (2) did not abuse its discretion in refusing a change of venue; (3) did not abuse its discretion in allowing testimony regarding Defendant's lack of remorse; (4) did not abuse its discretion in disallowing two defense exhibits; (5) did not err in limiting the evidence of Defendant's drug use; (6) did not err in allowing victim impact testimony; (7) did not abuse its discretion in admitting a certain witness's testimony; and (8) did not err in declaring another witness unavailable and allowing her prior trial testimony to be played for the jury. View "Hubers v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision reversing the circuit court's order dismissing Property Owners' appeal from the decision of the Kenton County Board of Adjustment granting approval of a conditional use application to allow the operation of a nursery school in a residential zone, holding that Kentucky law requires that a party must claim to be "injured or aggrieved" to perfect an appeal to circuit court under Ky. Rev. Stat. 100.347(1).After the Board unanimously granted the conditional use application Property Owners filed an appeal, alleging that the Board's action was improper because it did not meet certain statutory requirements and the requirements of the Kenton County Zoning Ordinance. The circuit court dismissed the appeal, concluding that Property Owners failed to allege that they were injured or aggrieved by the final action of the Board, and therefore, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed, interpreting the "injured or aggrieved" language to be a standing requirement rather than a jurisdiction requirement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Property Owners failed to follow the appeal procedures in section 100.347(1) by not claiming in the complaint to be injured or aggrieved, and therefore, the circuit court appeals properly dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction. View "Kenton County Board of Adjustment v. Meitzen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Louisville & Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) on Mark Hill's claims under the Whistleblower Act, Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.101 et seq., and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KCRA), Ky. Rev. Stat. 344.010 et seq., holding that Hill's KCRA claims were correctly dismissed but that MSD was not subject to the Whistleblower Act.With respect to Hill's Whistleblower claim, the trial court found that MSD was not to be considered an "employer" under the Whistleblower Act. The court also found that Hill failed to present any affirmative evidence in support of his KCRA claims. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court as to Hill's KCRA claims but reversed as to Hill's Whistleblower claim. The Supreme Court reversed as to the Whistleblower claim, holding that MSD was not an "employer" for purposes of the Whistleblower Act. View "Louisville & Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District" on Justia Law

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In this case considering the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's regulations as applied to historical horse racing the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court determining that the Encore system constitutes a "pari-mutuel system of wagering," holding that the trial court misapplied the applicable regulation as a matter of law.The Commission, the Department of Revenue and several horse racing associations sought judicial approval for wagering on historical horse racing. The Family Foundation of Kentucky, Inc. was permitted to intervene and challenged both the validity of regulations and the premise that wagering on historical horse races was truly pari-mutuel wagering. The trial court concluded that the Encore system constituted a pari-mutuel system of wagering approved by the Commission. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Encore system does not create a wagering pool among patrons such that they are wagering among themselves, as required for pari-mutuel wagering. View "Family Trust Foundation of Kentucky, Inc. v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's summary judgment in favor of Insurer, holding that the trial court did not err in finding that Plaintiff did not qualify as an insured under the facts of this case.Plaintiff was riding his bicycle when he was struck by a truck. The driver of the truck was an underinsured motorist (UIM). Plaintiff filed claims for UIM coverage under the commercial insurance policy that covered vehicles owned by and used in the court of business at Plaintiff's law firm. Insurer denied the UIM claims under its commercial policy. Plaintiff then filed a motion for declaratory judgment asking the trial court to declare that Insurer was obligated to provide UIM benefits. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Insurer, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly found there were no issues as to any material fact and that Insurer was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Isaacs v. Sentinal Insurance Co. Ltd." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law