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In Kentucky, an attorney’s contingent-fee contracts should be considered marital property to be divided as part of the equitable division of the marital estate, and trial courts must apply the delayed-distribution method to determine the actual distribution of funds. Husband had an active law practice in which he had executed contingent-fee contracts with some clients. When Husband and Wife divorced, the trial court treated the contingent-fee contracts as a component of Husband’s income when received and not as property of the marital estate subject to division. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding (1) a contingent-fee contract in existence during the marriage does constitute marital property to be divided in a dissolution proceeding; and (2) trial court shall apply the delayed-division method to determine the distribution to the attorney and non-attorney ex-spouses. View "Grasch v. Grasch" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court in this action arising from a construction dispute. Two subcontractors - the steel fabricator and the steel erector and installer - on a condominium project brought suit against the project owner, developer, and general contractor after the subcontractors proceeded with extra work outside the scope of the original bid documents but were never paid for either that work or the retainage amount owed under the steel fabricator’s contract with the general contractor. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff for the cost of the extra work and unpaid retainage. The general contractor prevailed on its indemnification cross-claim against the other two defendants and on the negligence cross-claim asserted against it by the other two defendants. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals (1) erred by reversing the trial court’s judgment against the owner for unjust enrichment; (2) properly reversed the trial court’s judgment against the general contractor for breach of contract; and (3) properly found that the trial court should have instructed the jury on the owner and developer’s breach of contract claim but erred in finding the negligence instruction deficient. View "Superior Steel, Inc. v. Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court in this case filed by Plaintiff requesting that Smokey Hollow Road in Bath County be recognized as a county road, public passway, or easement. The trial court ruled that Smokey Hollow Road was a county road and a public passway and that Plaintiff had acquired an easement by prescription. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part and reinstated the order of the trial court, holding (1) the passway at issue is not a county road as a matter of law; (2) the trial court’s finding of facts were insufficient to establish an implied dedication of this portion of Smokey Hollow Road to create a public road; and (3) Plaintiff had a prescriptive easement, and it had not been abandoned. View "Ellington v. Becraft" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance over two grams and of being a first-degree persistent felony offender and sentencing Defendant to twenty years’ imprisonment. The court held (1) Defendant was not denied a fair trial by the trial court’s admission of testimony from a detective; (2) Defendant was not entitled to a mistrial because of alleged errors in the sentencing phase of the trial proceeding; (3) there was no palpable error with the sentencing evidence; and (4) contrary to Defendant’s argument on appeal, the jury finding that Defendant was a persistent felony offender first-degree was unanimous. View "Conrad v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the unanimous jury verdict in Defendant's favor on a personal injury action brought by Plaintiff. Plaintiff was driving his motorcycle when he collided with a downed tree in the roadway. At the time, Defendant was the Metro Louisville County Engineer and an Assistant Director of Public Works. Plaintiff filed an action naming several defendants, including Defendant in his individual capacity. The jury subsequently returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Defendant, finding that Plaintiff had not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant breached a duty owed to Plaintiff. The court of appeals reversed, ruling (1) the jury’s findings that Defendant did not fail to comply with his duty was against the weight of the evidence, and (2) Defendant was entitled to a new trial but not to a directed verdict. The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals remanding the case to the circuit court for a new trial and affirmed the court of appeals’ denial of a directed verdict, holding that the court erred in granting a new trial because ample evidence on the issue of duty was presented and supported the jury verdict. View "Storm v. Martin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of one count of first-degree assault, eleven counts of first-degree criminal abuse, and one count of second-degree assault and sentencing Defendant to seventy years’ imprisonment. The convictions stemmed from the abuse of Defendant’s boyfriend’s minor child, N.V. After Defendant and her boyfriend were arrested, N.V. was released to foster care. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in allowing the testimony of the foster mother. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the trial court did not err in allowing the testimony of the foster mother. View "Richmond v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sentencing Defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole for twenty-five years for two counts of murder, two counts of first-degree robbery, one count of first-degree wanton endangerment, and one count of terroristic threatening. The court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the Commonwealth’s ballistics evidence; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by joining the offenses for trial; (3) the trial court properly permitted a witness to make an in-court identification of Defendant; (4) a detective did not improperly bolster his own credibility by answering questions from co-defendant’s counsel on cross-examination; and (5) the Commonwealth’s use of a CourtNet printout to impeach a witness was not improper. View "Garrett 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 three counts of violating a protective order, kidnapping, two counts of first-degree unlawful imprisonment and other offenses. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred by admitting improper character evidence and by failing to grant a directed verdict on the two counts of first-degree unlawful imprisonment. The Supreme Court held (1) evidence of Defendant’s “other crimes, wrongs, or acts” was properly admitted; and (2) this court declines to grant palpable error review of Defendant’s claim that he was entitled to a directed verdict on first-degree unlawful imprisonment. View "Gray v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of trafficking in four or more grams of cocaine. On appeal, Defendant argued that he was improperly convicted because the Commonwealth’s evidence failed to show that the substance seized from him contained four or more grams of pure cocaine. The court of appeals disagreed, holding that Defendant was not entitled to a directed verdict on his trafficking charge because the law does not require proof of the actual weight of pure cocaine to secure a conviction under the first-degree trafficking statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the plain language of Ky. Rev. Stat. 218A.1412, paired with the definition of “cocaine” in Ky. Rev. Stat. 218A.010(5), creates a statutory scheme whereby the Commonwealth is not required to prove that pure cocaine accounted for the weight of four grams or more; and (2) the trial court did not err in failing to compel disclosure of a confidential informant’s identity. View "Hawkins v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sentencing him to twenty years’ imprisonment for first-degree robbery, receiving stolen property, and other offenses. The court held (1) the trial court did not err by permitting the victim to make an in-court identification of Defendant; (2) the trial court properly refused to give an instruction for the lesser-included offense of facilitation to first-degree robbery; (3) Defendant’s conviction for receiving stolen property based on a stolen handgun was not manifestly unjust; and (4) the Commonwealth’s questioning of Defendant regarding his violent past did not constitute palpable error. View "Fairley v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law