Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company issued an automobile insurance policy, which included uninsured motorist coverage, to Melvin Briggs. After Nationwide sent Briggs a notice of nonrenewal of the policy, Briggs was involved in a collision with an uninsured motorist. Briggs's children filed a claim under the Nationwide policy for uninsured motorist benefits, which Nationwide denied. Nationwide subsequently sued Briggs’s children, seeking a declaratory judgment that it had nonrenewed Briggs’s policy before the automobile accident. The U.S. district court granted summary judgment for Nationwide, concluding that it had complied with statutory and policy requirements for notice of nonrenewal. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of law to the Kansas Supreme Court, which answered the certified question as follows: Notice to nonrenew an insurance policy that complies with the procedure set out in Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3118(b) and a consistent provision in the policy itself is sufficient to force a lapse of coverage, regardless of whether a proper substantive basis for nonrenewal exists under Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-276a(a) and consistent policy language. View "Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Briggs" on Justia Law

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While driving a vehicle owned by her employer (Employer), Appellant was injured in an accident caused by an underinsured motorist. Appellant claimed underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits under Employer’s commercial insurance package policy, which Appellant believed had been insured by Insurer, the same carrier that insured the tortfeasor. Insurer denied Appellant’s claim. A jury awarded Appellant damages, finding the tortfeasor at fault. The district court denied Insurer’s posttrial motion for judgment based upon its claim that it did not issue Employer’s insurance policy and granted Insurer’s motion for credit against the verdict in part, declining, however, to give Insurer credit for future medical expenses. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the trial court’s denial of Insurer’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on Insurer’s claim that Appellant named the wrong insurance company as the defendant; (2) reversed the district court’s decision on Insurer’s motion for partial summary judgment on future medical expenses and vacated the jury’s award of future medical expenses; and (3) reversed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion for attorney fees. Remanded. View "Bussman v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. " on Justia Law

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After Employee was injured in a car accident with a police officer, Employer's workers compensation carrier (Claimant) sought to bring this tort action against City. Claimant gave notice to City that it was pursuing a negligence claim against it, claiming damages in the amount of $19,590. Claimant then brought a lawsuit in the district court, requesting $19,590 in damages. Several months later, Claimant sought leave to amend its petition to raise the amount of alleged damages to $228,088. City objected, arguing that Claimant's notice did not include "a statement of the amount of monetary damages that is being requested" as required under Kan. Stat. Ann. 12-105b(d)(5). The district court granted Claimant's petition, finding that Claimant's statutory notice substantially complied with 12-105b(d). A divided court of appeals affirmed the district court's ruling that the notice was in substantial compliance with the law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the circumstances, Claimant's notice substantially complied with 12-105b(d), as the notice contained all the information required by the statute; and (2) when a notice conforms with section 12-105b(d), subsequent amendments to the pleadings are subject to an inquiry into a claimant's bad faith or misleading conduct. View "Cont'l W. Ins. Co. v. Shultz" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a claim with his Insurer under his policy for stolen tools and equipment, which Insurer denied. Plaintiff sued. The district court granted summary judgment for Insurer. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for entry of judgment for Plaintiff. On remand, Plaintiff requested and received attorney fees related to both the district court and the appellate proceedings. The court of appeals reversed the award of appellate attorney fees, concluding Plaintiff had waived his right to appellate fees by not filing a motion for attorney fees with the court of appeals in the prior appeal. Petitioner filed a motion requesting appellate attorney fees for his second appeal in Snider II. The court of appeals awarded additional appellate attorney fees. Plaintiff appealed, requesting a judgment for the appellate attorney fees incurred in Snider I and an award of additional fees for the appeal in Snider II. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals (1) correctly applied Supreme Court Rule 7.07(b), Evans v. Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co., and Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-908; and (2) did not err in determining the amount of reasonable attorney fees related this current appeal. View "Snider v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The Workers Compensation Board awarded Plaintiff benefits under the Workers Compensation Act for an injury he sustained while operating a go-cart at an event sponsored by his employer (Employer). Employer and its insurance carrier (Insurer) appealed the award, claiming that Plaintiff's injuries were not compensable because they were sustained during a recreational or social event that Plaintiff was not required to attend. The court of appeals affirmed the Board. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board applied the incorrect legal standard in determining whether Plaintiff's injuries arose out of and in the course of his employment, and the error was not harmless. Remanded to the Board to make the determination based on the statutory criteria of Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-508(f). View "Douglas v. Ad Astra Info. Sys., LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal raised the issue of whether a district court can order a child support obligor to cooperate with a child support obligee in the obligee's efforts to obtain insurance on the obligor's life if the obligor objects to the issuance of the life insurance policy. Here, despite the obligor's objection, the district court ordered the obligor to cooperate with the obligee's attempts to obtain insurance on the obligor's life at the obligee's own expense. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a district court cannot issue such an order because the order would be contrary to public policy as expressed by the Kansas Legislature in Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-453(a), which provides that an insurable interest does not exist if a person whose life is insured makes a written request for the termination or nonrenewal of the policy. View "In re Marriage of Hall" on Justia Law

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In the garnishment action below, Plaintiffs sought to collect the consent judgments they had previously obtained in settlement of their tort actions against Americold Corporation, which was insured by Northwestern Pacific Indemnity Company (NPIC). NPIC, the garnishee in the instant action, appealed the district court's adverse rulings, contending that the underlying judgments against Americold had become dormant and extinguished, thus depriving the district court of subject matter jurisdiction to proceed with this garnishment action. Finding in favor of NPIC on that issue, the Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) when the district court entered its judgment against NPIC in this garnishment proceeding, Plaintiffs' underlying consent judgments against Americold had been extinguished by operation of the dormancy and revivor statutes; (2) because Americold was not legally obligated to pay an unenforceable judgment, NPIC was no longer indebted to Americold under its contract to pay the judgments for which Americold was legally liable; and (3) accordingly, without an indebtedness from NPIC to Americold, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to grant Plaintiffs judgment against NPIC in a garnishment proceeding. Remanded with directions to dismiss these garnishment proceedings.

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John Brennan sued his physician, who had a $200,000 professional liability insurance policy, for medical malpractice. The insurer was declared insolvent after Brennan filed his claim but before he recovered. The insurer's insolvency triggered the Kansas Insurance Guaranty Association's (KIGA) statutory obligation to cover the insurer's obligations to the extent provided by the Kansas Insurance Guaranty Association Act. KIGA, which intervened in the suit, denied liability because Brennan received medical reimbursements from his personal health insurance policy that totaled more than the insolvent insurer's policy limits. The dispositive issue was whether Brennan's due process rights were violated by a retroactive statutory amendment permitting KIGA to offset Brennan's personal health insurance benefits against its liability on the insolvent insurer's $200,000 policy. The district court declared the statute's retroactive feature unconstitutional and entered judgment against KIGA for $200,000. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the retroactivity provision violated due process, and (2) Brennan's rights were governed by the preamended statute.