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This matter was before the Kentucky Supreme Court on remand pursuant to the opinion of the United States Supreme Court in Kindred Nursing Centers Ltd. Partnership v. Clark, 137 S. Ct. 1421 (2017). The United States Supreme Court held that the “clear statement rule” - which provides that an attorney-in-fact does not have the authority to bind his principal to a pre-dispute arbitration agreement unless that authority is clearly stated in a power-of-attorney (POA) document - impinged upon the supremacy of the Federal Arbitration Act. Because the Kentucky Supreme Court’s ruling in the associated case of Kindred Nursing Centers Ltd. Partnership v. Wellner also rested upon alternative grounds, the United States Supreme Court remanded that case for the Kentucky Supreme Court to determine whether the alternate grounds for its holding with respect to the Wellner POA was “wholly independent” of the clear statement rule. On remand, the Supreme Court held that its interpretation that the Wellner POA did not authorize attorney-in-fact Beverly Wellner to execute Kindred’s pre-dispute arbitration agreement was wholly independent of, and not impermissibly tainted by, the clear statement rule decried by the United States Supreme Court. View "Kindred Nursing Center Limited Partnership v. Wellner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals ruling in favor of Appellee in this prison discipline case and reinstated the trial court’s order denying Appellee’s pro se declaration of rights action in which she argued that the disciplinary proceeding violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. Appellee was disciplined as a result of an injury to a Corrections officer after a fight between Plaintiff and another inmate. The circuit court found that Appellee had received due process. The court of appeals remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding that Appellee’s procedural due process rights were not violated. View "Warden v. Lawless" on Justia Law

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Contrary to the conclusion of the court of appeals in this medical malpractice action, Plaintiff’s failure to produce expert evidence was fatal to his claim and summary judgment was properly granted to Defendants. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendants were negligent in treating, or failing to treat, his illness while he was an inmate in the Hardin County Detention Center. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants on summary judgment because Plaintiff had no expert evidence to establish the relevant standards of care or to show that Defendants’ breach of the standard of care caused Plaintiff’s damages. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the negligent conduct asserted by Plaintiff fit within the res ipsa loquitur doctrine and thus could be supported at trial without expert opinion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, in the absence of expert testimony to the contrary, Plaintiff’s evidence failed to create a genuine issue of material fact as to Defendants’ breach of a standard of care, and therefore, as a matter of law, Defendants were correctly granted summary judgment. View "Adams v. Sietsema" on Justia Law

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Patients do not have a cause of action against a hospital for the negligent credentialing of a non-employee physician who is given staff privileges by the hospital because Kentucky law does not recognize the tort of negligent credentialing. In these three consolidated cases, the trial courts ruled that Kentucky does not recognize the tort of negligent credentialing. The court of appeals ultimately recognized negligent credentialing as a separate cause of action in the Commonwealth. The Supreme Court disagreed with the court of appeals, holding that there was no need to establish the new tort of negligent credentialing specifically applying to hospitals. The court affirmed the court of appeals’ affirmance of summary judgment in one case and reinstated the order of the trial court and remanded the remaining cases to the respective trial courts for further proceedings. View "Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, LLC v. Adams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff in this civil action asserting the tort of conversion and remanded the case to the trial court with direction to grant summary judgment to Defendants. Plaintiff claimed that Defendants should be required to disgorge large sums of money that Plaintiff claimed had been stolen from her by her attorney and transferred by him to Defendants. The court of appeals concluded that Plaintiff failed to prove the essential elements of conversion, specifically finding that Plaintiff lacked the requisite legal title or possessory rights to the allegedly converted property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff could not maintain a conversion action against Defendants because she no longer possessed title to or a possessory interest in the funds transferred. View "Ford v. Baerg" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the lower courts in this action brought by Janet Cropper against her former employers - the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, Saint Augustine School, and the pastor of the Saint Augustine Church (collectively, Saint Augustine) - claiming damages for, inter alia, breach of her employment contract, holding that the trial court and court of appeals did not err when they ruled that Cropper was not barred from asserting her breach of contract claim. The trial court ruled that Cropper’s claims were not barred by the ecclesiastical-abstention doctrine but ultimately ruled that, as a matter of law, Cropper could not show a breach of her employment contract. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s determination that Cropper could not prove a breach of contract. The Supreme Court affirmed the result reached by the court of appeals and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine did not apply to the facts of this case. View "Saint Augustine School v. Cropper" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals remanding this matter to the circuit court for entry of an order requiring Utility Management Group, LLC (UMG) to comply with the Open Records Act, Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.870-.884. The Pike County Fiscal Court made an Open Records request to UMG, which provided management and operational services to Mountain Water District, so that the Auditor of Public Accounts could determine the actual costs of the services UMG provided. UMG declined to produce the request documents, asserting that it was a “wholly private entity.” The Attorney General found UMG subject to the Open Records Act and required production. The circuit court, however, concluded that UMG had no disclosure obligation under the Act. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) at the time of Pike County Fiscal Court’s Open Records Act request, UMG was a public agency subject to the Act; (2) the 2012 amendment to section 61.870(1)(h) does not apply retroactively to relieve UMG of its disclosure obligation; and (3) the challenged 1994 version of section 61.870(1)(h) was and is constitutional. View "Utility Management Group, LLC v. Pike County Fiscal Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals, which affirmed the decisions of the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) holding that Kathy Prichard was entitled to reopen her workplace injury claim almost seven years after her initial award of workers’ compensation benefits but within four years of a subsequent order granting her additional disability benefits. The court held (1) Prichard’s motion to reopen was timely filed within the four-year limitation period contained in Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.125(3); and (2) Prichard demonstrated through objective medical evidence a change in her disability indicating a worsening of her impairment, as required for reopening a claim under section 342.125(1)(d). View "Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Prichard" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of murder and first-degree arson and sentencing him to two concurrent terms of life imprisonment. Contrary to Defendant’s arguments on appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) Defendant was not entitled to a directed verdict based upon the “inherent unbelievability” of the Commonwealth’s principal witness; (2) because Defendant failed to demonstrate prejudice, the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for a mistrial based on a news report broadcast by a television station about the trial; and (3) the trial court properly addressed the prosecutor’s improper comment during closing argument. View "Ross v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of manslaughter in the second degree and tampering with physical evidence. The court held (1) the trial court and the court of appeals erred in their respective applications of the adoptive admission exception to the hearsay rule, leading those tribunals to the erroneous conclusion that Defendant’s silence was an adoptive admission of guilt, but the error was harmless; and (2) the prosecutor improperly explained to the jury the adoptive admission rule, but no manifest injustice resulted from the error. View "Moss v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law