Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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An administrative law judge (ALJ) awarded Brandon Fleming partial disability benefits based on a finding that Fleming had a combined permanent impairment rating of seventeen percent. In 2010, Fleming moved to reopen his claim, alleging that his condition had worsened. A different ALJ found that Fleming had a combined permanent impairment rating of thirty-two percent. The Workers’ Compensation Board and court of appeals affirmed. LKLP CAC Inc. appealed, arguing that the ALJ’s opinion was not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ relied on a physician who stated that Fleming’s permanent impairment rating had not changed following the 2010 opinion and award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in the ALJ’s finding that Fleming had an increase in his permanent impairment rating, in his impairment, and in his disability. View "LKLP CAC Inc. v. Fleming" on Justia Law

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Michael Flick was convicted of the 2005 murder of Christina Wittich and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2008, Wittich’s Estate filed this wrongful-death action against Flick. Flick filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as untimely filed. The trial court denied the motion. A jury awarded the Estate $2,900,000 in compensatory damage and $53,000,000 in punitive damages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Estate’s wrongful-death claim was untimely filed; (2) the Estate’s wrongful-death claim was not saved by a tolling statute; (3) the legislature’s recent amendment to Ky. Rev. Stat. 413.140(1) did not save the Estate’s claim; and (4) this court’s holding was not prospective only in nature. View "Estate of Christina Witch v. Flick" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Marshall Parker sought an award of benefits for a back injury he received during the course of his employment with Webster County Coal. An administrative law judge (ALJ) awarded benefits for the back injury. However, the ALJ found that, pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.730(4), Webster County Coal did not have liability for payment of income benefits in addition to the two years of temporary total disability income benefits Parker had already received. The Workers’ Compensation Board and Court of Appeals affirmed. Parker appealed, arguing that section 342.730(4) is unconstitutional because, under the statute, injured older workers who qualify for normal old-age Social Security retirement benefits are treated differently from injured older workers who do not qualify. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that section 342.730(4) is constitutionally infirm on equal protection grounds because there is no rational basis or substantial and justifiable reason for the disparate treatment of two groups of workers. View "Parker v. Webster County Coal, LLC" on Justia Law

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An oversized tractor-trailer collided with the school bus Leonard Collins was driving on a portion of highway meandering across Pine Mountain, resulting in Collins’s death. Sycilla Collins (Appellant) filed a claim with the Board of Claims alleging negligence on the part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Highways. The Board concluded that the Department of Highways was not negligent in performing its duty to enforce vehicle size restrictions. The circuit court reversed, concluding that the Board’s ruling was not supported by substantial evidence. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Department of Highways did not owe Appellant a statutory or regulatory duty to enforce the vehicle size restrictions found within Ky. Rev. Stat. 189.221. View "Collins v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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This personal injury suit arose from a 2007 trip-and-fall at the Speedway SuperAmerica filling-station in Manchester. After a bench trial, the circuit court found for Teresa and Randy Grubb (together, Plaintiffs) and against Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, the store’s owner, and Roxanne Smith, the store’s manager at the time of the accident (collectively, Defendants). The court of appeals reversed and remanded for entry of a defense judgment, concluding that the trial court erred by failing to apply the “open and obvious” doctrine under the circumstances of this case. On discretionary review, the Supreme Court remanded to the court of appeals for reconsideration in light of the Court’s recent attempts to modernize the open and obvious doctrine and to harmonize it with tort law’s shift to a regime of comparative negligence. On remand, the court of appeals stood by its prior ruling. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals read recent precedent too narrowly; (2) the trial court erred by failing to consider whether Teresa shared responsibility for the accident and by failing to find that she did; and (3) the trial court erred in finding Smith jointly and severally liable with Speedway on Plaintiffs’ claims. View "Grubb v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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After EQT Gathering, LLC constructed a natural gas pipeline along the boundary of Appellants’ property, Appellants filed a civil action in the circuit court alleging that EQT had trespassed upon their land. After a jury trial, the circuit court ruled in favor of Appellants and awarded compensatory and punitive damages. The court of appeals vacated the judgment, concluding that the trial court erred by directing a verdict in Appellants’ favor on the issue of liability and submitting only the issue of damages for the jury’s determination. The court of appeals further concluded, sua sponte, that, upon remand for a new trial, adjoining landowners must be included as parties to the suit before the trespass claim could be resolved. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court erred in directing a verdict on the issue of EQT’s liability for the trespass; but (2) the court of appeals erred in determining that the adjoining landowners were indispensable or necessary parties to the trespass claim and in mandating their involuntary participation in the action. Remanded. View "Fleming v. EQT Gathering, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Keeneland Association, Inc. entered into a contract with Appalachian Racing, LLC to preserve its interest in purchasing Appalachian Racing’s ownership of the racing track Thunder Ridge. Floyd County held bonds that were to be paid upon Keeneland’s purchase of Thunder Ridge. While the contract was pending, Keeneland applied for a license with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on behalf of Cumberland Run, LLC to operate another racing track. The Commission issued a public notice that it would review and consider the application. Appalachian Racing, joined by Floyd County, sued the Commission on a theory of aiding and abetting fraud and tortious interference with a prospective advantage. The circuit court issued a restraining order prohibiting the Commission from considering or taking any action on the license application. The Commission then sought a writ of prohibition to prevent the circuit court from enforcing its restraining order. The court of appeals granted the Commission’s request determining that the circuit court violated Kentucky’s separation of powers doctrine in issuing the order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was nothing in the present suit that authorized the circuit court to prevent the Commission from considering Keeneland’s application. View "Appalachian Racing, LLC v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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Shortly after leaving Liberty Place Recovery Center for Women, LLC, a substance abuse recovery program administered by Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, Inc., Melissa Steffen committed suicide. Steffen’s estate and the guardians of Melissa’s children sued Liberty Place and Kentucky River. Before trial, Kentucky River filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds of sovereign immunity. The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed but for reasons that differed from those set forth by the circuit court and the court of appeals, holding that Kentucky River did not have immunity with regard to its operation of Liberty Place. View "Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, Inc. v. Phirman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Ralph Goodwin was attending a convention at the Galt House, a hotel, when he was injured after slipping and falling as he was getting into the bathtub to take a shower. Goodwin filed suit, alleging negligence. In response, the Galt House alleged that Goodwin’s injures were the result of his failure to exercise ordinary care. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Galt House, determining that Galt House did not have a duty to provide bathmats for all rooms because it provided bathmats for some rooms and that a hotel is not “an insurer of a guest’s safety.” The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals and trial court conflated open and obvious, duty, and breach of duty when these were separate and distinct concepts. Remanded for further proceedings. View "Goodwin v. Al J. Schneider Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Roger Collins died following an inpatient stay at Ridgeway Nursing Home & Rehabilitation Facility. Stella Collins, Roger's wife, subsequently brought an action against Ridgeway alleging wrongful death and nursing home neglect. After pretrial discovery, Ridgeway moved to disqualify Wilkes & McHugh (W&H), the lawfirm representing Collins, alleging that an investigator for W&H violated the Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct by making contact with three of Ridgeway's employees. The trial court denied the motion. Ridgeway then sought a writ of mandamus seeking the dismissal of the claims brought against it or, alternatively, the disqualification of W&H. The court of appeals declined to issue the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals did not err in finding that Ridgeway had an adequate remedy by appeal or otherwise for the admission of unfairly and unethically obtained evidence. View "Ridgeway Nursing & Rehabilitation Facility, LLC v. Circuit Court " on Justia Law