Articles Posted in Injury Law

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Samantha Hollaway was involved in an accident with Harry Sykes, who was insured by Direct General Insurance Company of Mississippi. Hollaway sought compensation from Direct General for both bodily and property damage. Direct General settled Hollaway’s property damage claim, but there was a breakdown of settlement negotiations with respect to Hollaway’s bodily injury claim. Hollaway filed suit, asserting a third-party bad faith claim against Direct General under the Kentucky Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Direct General, finding that liability and causation were legitimately disputed, and therefore, Direct General could not have acted in bad faith as a matter of law. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Hollaway failed to make a colorable third-party bad-faith claim and, therefore, summary judgment in favor of Direct General was appropriate. View "Hollaway v. Direct Gen. Ins. Co. of Miss., Inc." on Justia Law

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After a criminal investigation into Stephen O’Daniel conducted by certain Kentucky State Police officers (collectively, the Officers), O’Daniel was indicted for second-degree forgery. The jury acquitted O’Daniel. Thereafter, O’Daniel brought a malicious prosecution action against the Officers. The Officers moved for summary judgment on the grounds of immunity. The trial court granted summary judgment, concluding that O’Daniel could not establish that the criminal prosecution was instituted “by, or at the instance of” the Officers, as required by Raine v. Drasin. The court also concluded that the officers were shielded from liability by the doctrine of immunity as expressed by the Supreme Court in Rehberg v. Paulk. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Officers were not entitled to dismissal of the malicious prosecution action on grounds of absolute immunity or qualified official immunity; (2) the Court of Appeals did not err in reversing the summary judgment but used an improper standard in remanding the case for consideration; and (3) the expression of the malicious prosecution elements set forth in Raine v. Drasin is hereby abrogated in favor of the articulation set forth in this opinion. View "Martin v. O’Daniel" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Tim Agee, individually and on the behalf of the estate of his wife, Eva, sued Baptist Health Richmond, Inc. and other medical care providers alleging that Eva’s death was the result of medical negligence. During discovery, Agee requested from Baptist Health the production of certain documents. Baptist Health refused to produce the documents, claiming that they were protected from disclosure by the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005. Agee filed a motion to compel, which the trial court granted in part. Thereafter, Baptist Health filed an original action in the court of appeals seeking a writ of prohibition. The court of appeals denied the request, citing the plurality opinion in Tibbs v. Bunnell. The Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s discovery order and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the correct result in this case lay in middle ground between the plurality and the dissenting opinions in Tibbs. Remanded with instructions for the trial court to undertake the review set forth in this opinion. View "Baptist Health Richmond, Inc. v. Hon. William Clouse" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an action against several anonymous users of the website Topix (collectively, “the John Does”) alleging that the John Does had recklessly posted defamatory statements about him on the website. Plaintiff issued subpoenas to Topix and another internet provider seeking the identity and address of John Does 1 and 2. The two John Does filed a motion to quash the subpoenas. The trial court denied the motion to quash. The John Does subsequently filed a petition for a writ of prohibition with the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals required Plaintiff, in order to obtain the identities of the John Does, to make a prima facie showing that defamation had occurred under the Delaware case in Doe v. Cahill. On remand, Plaintiff sought to prove his prima facie case. The circuit court then ordered subpoenas to be served and ordered counsel for the John Does to disclose their identities. The John Does filed another writ petition in the Court of Appeals. The court denied the petition, concluding that Plaintiff had made a prima facie case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff failed to make an adequate prima facie case of the elements of defamation to allow him to obtain the John Does’ identities. View "Doe v. Hon. Eddy Coleman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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At issue in this case was the apportionment of damages between two insurance companies who provided underinsured motorist (UM) coverave to a passenger injured in an automobile accident in Bowling Green. The Circuit Court ordered the companies to share the damages pro rata in proportion to their respective policy limits. Countryway Insurance appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals, contending that the damages should not have been divided at all, but should have been apportioned entirely to United Financial, the insurer of the accident vehicle. To Countryway's dismay, the Court of Appeals panel decided that that argument was "half right:" the Court agreed that the damages should not have been divided, but in its view Countryway, the insurer of the injured passenger, bore full responsibility for the passenger's UM claim. The Supreme Court concluded the Court of Appeals erred in its analysis of the controlling case-law applicable to this matter, reversed and remanded to the Circuit Court for entry of an appropriate order in favor of Countryway. View "Countryway Ins. Co. v. United Financial Casualty Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The Estate of Pratikshya Gurung filed a negligence action against Norton Hospital after Gurung was born with brain damage and quadriplegia. On appeal, Norton challenged the Court of Appeals' dismissal as moot of a writ action filed by Norton over a discovery dispute with the Estate. The court concluded that the Court of Appeals abused its discretion because its decision was not based on sound legal principles where Norton's writ action is not moot because relief can still be afforded. The court stated that it is true that the documents Norton alleges are privileged have now been provided to the Estate, but options remain. Accordingly, the court remanded for consideration of Norton's asserted privilege in light of the court's decision in Tibbs v. Bunnell. View "Norton Hosp. v. Hon. Barry L. Willett" on Justia Law

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Deborah Powell, the former women’s basketball coach at Asbury University, filed suit against the University, asserting claims of defamation, gender discrimination, and retaliation. The jury returned a verdict in the University’s favor on the defamation and discrimination claims but in Powell’s favor on the retaliation claim. The trial court awarded Powell damages and attorney's fees and costs. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a claim of unlawful employer retaliation under Ky. Rev. Stat. 344.280(1) does not require an underlying violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act; (2) there was sufficient evidence to find unlawful retaliation; (3) the admission of opinion testimony by a former employee of the university that Powell’s conduct had been “wholly innocent” was harmless; (4) the University was not entitled to an employment-at-will jury instruction; (5) the University was not entitled to a new trial for alleged defects in the jury’s damages verdict; and (6) the award of attorneys’ fees and costs was not unreasonable. View "Asbury University v. Powell" on Justia Law

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Stephen Patton, an eighth-grader at Allen Central Middle School, committed suicide allegedly because he was bullied at school. Patton’s estate filed suit against various teachers and administrators alleging that the administrators failed to implement sound policies and that the teachers failed to know Patton was being bullied and mistreated under their watch. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the teachers and administrators, concluding (1) these defendants were entitled to qualified official immunity from suit, and (2) Patton’s suicide was an intervening cause interrupting potential liability by the teachers and administrators. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court erred when it ruled that the teachers were entitled to the protection of qualified official immunity from this suit but did not err in ruling that the administrators were protected by qualified immunity; and (2) the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment to the teachers where the Estate presented no credible evidence that Patton was bullied because the teachers were negligent either in their duty to handle bullying reports or to appropriately supervise their pupils. View "Patton v. Bickford" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Allen Lehmann, a former ordained pastor in the Assembly of God church, was indicted for multiple counts of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse. Approximately one month after the indictment issued, the alleged victims filed a civil action against Lehmann and various Assembly of God entities based on essentially the same allegations covered by the indictment. The Commonwealth moved to intervene in the civil action and stay discovery. The trial court granted the Commonwealth’s motion, determining that a stay of civil discovery until the completion of Lehmann’s criminal trial would promote justice and fairness. Lehmann sought a writ of mandamus seeking to have the trial court’s order vacated the civil discovery resumed. The court of appeals declined to issue a writ, concluding that Lehmann failed to prove he was without an adequate appellate remedy and that there was no genuine exigency meriting use of the court’s writ authority. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a writ in this instance was unnecessary, and therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in staying civil discovery pending the completion of Lehmann’s criminal trial. View "Lehmann v. Hon. Susan Gibson" on Justia Law

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Defendant owned land that was adjoined by Plaintiff’s property. In the course of cutting timber for Defendant, a logger trespassed on Plaintiff’s property and cut and sold a substantial amount of timber on her property. Plaintiff sued for trespass, seeking damages for the missing timber and the damage to the land. The trial court awarded stumpage value and damages but did not award treble damages based on its finding that Defendant had no intent to remove timber from Plaintiff’s property. The court of appeals (1) vacated the circuit court’s ruling on treble damages and remanded for additional findings and further proceedings, and (2) affirmed on Defendant’s cross-appeal. The Supreme Court (1) upheld the court of appeals in its affirming the trial court in the determination that Defendant was liable for damages for trespass; but (2) reversed the court of appeals in determining that Defendant was subject to treble damages, as there was insufficient evidence to prove that Defendant intended to convert Plaintiff’s timber for his own use. View "Penix v. Delong" on Justia Law