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Articles Posted in Case Law Summaries

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By Kyle Roby, Partner

Have you ever taken your child to a trampoline park or bouncy house facility and had to sign a liability waiver, or check-in on an I-pad, to release all claims in order for them to be able jump? Have you ever asked yourself “What did I just sign… and is it enforceable?” The Kentucky Supreme Court recently answered those questions in Miller v House of Boom. The Court found that pre-injury liability waivers between a for-profit entity and a parent on behalf of a minor child are against Kentucky law and unenforceable.

In this case, a mother took her eleven year-old daughter and a friend to House of Boom, a trampoline park in Louisville, Kentucky. As a part of the registration process, she had to sign a pre-injury liability waiver for her daughter so that in the event that she was injured, House of Boom was not liable. As it turns out, the child was injured on that day and the mother sued House of Boom on the child’s behalf. House of Boom asked the Court to declare the waiver enforceable and declare that the mother waived all rights for her minor child.

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By Kyle Roby, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

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Kyle Roby

A recent Kentucky Supreme Court case addressed the issue of PIP or BRB payments, which are also called no-fault payments. This is part of a class action lawsuit against insurance giant GEICO. The company denied PIP benefits based on a doctor reviewing medical records and not examining the individual. This is known as a peer review of medical records by an out-of-state doctor.

This procedure is not found in the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (MVRA). The plaintiffs argued that this procedure should not have been used as a standard for denying benefits and the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed.  In fact, the Kentucky Supreme Court compared the arguments made by the attorneys and the trial court to coon dogs leading a hunter in the wrong direction or as the old saying goes “they were barking up the wrong tree.”

The case is Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) vs. Jordan Sanders and Anita Houchens (individually and as class representatives). The court handed down the ruling on November 1, and ordered that the ruling was to be published, which means it can be used as a standard in future cases.

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By Bob Young, Managing Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley LLP

In 2012, there was a national outbreak of fungal meningitis caused by poor manufacturing conditions at New England Compounding Company (NECC). Out of the 753 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control, 234 individuals contacted fungal meningitis, while more than 300 individuals suffered from fungal infections. Sixty-four patients in nine states died.

We represented 32 patients from Kentucky and Tennessee, tracking the cases through the courts for more than five years. Even as NECC filed bankruptcy and the clinic that administered the injections in Tennessee closed down, we still gained settlements for our clients.

It was an incredibly complicated case, but for our team, it was all in a day’s (or a few year’s) work.

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By Bob Young, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

For the last year, cases have been working their way through the courts against Johnson & Johnson and their talc supplier, with plaintiffs who used their baby powder or Shower to Shower powder suing because they were diagnosed with cancer after long-term use of the products.

Last week, a jury handed down a landmark verdict against Johnson & Johnson on behalf of plaintiff Larry Lanzo and his wife. Lanzo had used Shower to Shower powder and other similar products for nearly 30 years, and developed mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer. Lanzo believes the disease came from inhaling the product during the past three decades of use.

The court ruled Johnson & Johnson must pay $117 million in damages, with $30 million of that going to Lanzo, and $7 million to his wife. The rest of the money – $80 million – will be paid in punitive damages.

Johnson & Johnson issued a statement saying it does not believe there is a link between its powder and mesothelioma.

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By Kyle Roby, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Chances are, we’ve all been stopped on a road by a person holding a brightly colored flag as roadwork commenced in front of us. It’s so common it’s unremarkable, and expected whenever there is construction on roads (which seems like most of the year in Kentucky).

In a recent case we handled in Edmondson County, a stopped truck didn’t have a spotter or flagger directing traffic around a cement truck blocking the roadway, and it nearly resulted in the death of our client. The general contractor did not have temporary traffic control devises in place and the concrete truck company did not train its drivers on what to do when the required devices are not present.

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When a person who is injured due to another party’s careless conduct files a lawsuit, he or she may expect the matter to be concluded either by a jury trial or by a settlement.

However, a significant number of Kentucky personal injury cases – especially premises liability lawsuits arising from slip and falls, trip and falls, and fall down accidents – are resolved via a motion for summary judgment.

By granting summary judgment, a trial court is saying, in essence, that even if everything the plaintiff says in his or her complaint is true, the defendant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment is only appropriate in situations in which no genuine issues of material fact must be resolved in order for the issues to be decided.

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By Kyle Roby
Attorney and Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Each state has its own rules as to how to handle a case in which both the plaintiff and the defendant are alleged to have been negligent in causing an accident. In a Kentucky car wreck case, the law of pure comparative fault applies. (In some other states, the rule may be modified comparative fault or pure contributory negligence.)

Under the doctrine of pure comparative fault followed in Kentucky, the plaintiff can recover money damages from the defendant as long as he or she is not found to be 100% at fault; however, he or she is only entitled to recover the percentage of total damages attributed to the defendant’s negligence.

Such cases are often hotly contested, since each party may try to pin all or most of the blame for the crash on the other side.

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Filing a personal injury lawsuit against a city can be very tricky. If certain rigid procedural requirements are not met, a plaintiff’s case can be dismissed even if a city was clearly negligent.

This is one of many reasons why it is best to consult an attorney as soon as possible after being involved in an accident. Unlike the average citizen, experienced Kentucky premises liability attorneys are well-versed in the area of negligence litigation, including the special rules that apply in cases involving a city.

Facts of the Case

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Kentucky is a no-fault insurance state. This simply means that each party in a Kentucky auto accident case must first seek payment of medical expenses up to $10,000 from their own insurance companies through a claim for basic reparations benefits (also known as personal injury protection – or PIP – benefits). If a person sustains serious injuries, it is usually still possible to pursue compensation from the negligent motorist.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case appealed from the Jefferson Circuit Court, the insured motorist was a woman whose vehicle was struck from behind in a multi-car accident in May 2015. At the scene, the insured motorist did not report any injuries, but there was minor damage to her vehicle’s rear bumper. The insured motorist later sought chiropractic treatment for injuries she alleged resulted from the accident, submitting the bills to the insurance company for payment under her basic reparation benefits (BRB).

The insurance company did not pay the insured motorist’s medical expenses, instead filing a petition to compel the insured motorist to give a pre-litigation deposition. The insured motorist filed a counterclaim, alleging that the insurance company’s refusal to pay her medical expenses immediately was a violation of the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act. The circuit court found that the insurance company had shown good cause for its request for a deposition and ordered the insured motorist to comply within 30 days. It also dismissed the insured motorist’s counterclaim.

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Most of the time, the plaintiff in a lawsuit arising from a motor vehicle accident is either a person who has been hurt in a crash or a family who has lost a loved one in a fatal traffic accident.

Sometimes, however, the plaintiff is an insurance company that has paid out benefits to an insured – typically for property damage or medical benefits – and is seeking repayment from the person whose negligence caused the crash.

Both individuals and insurance companies must follow procedural rules, including filing a claim within the statute of limitations and pursing resolution of the lawsuit in a timely fashion.

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