Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
Russell v. Johnson & Johnson Inc.
In this lawsuit brought against Johnson & Johnson, Inc. and other entities (collectively, Defendants) alleging state tort claims due to injuries caused by a Class III medical device the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings based on federal preemption of all claims, holding that, under Kentucky's notice pleading standards, the motion for judgment on the pleadings should have been denied.In their complaint, Plaintiffs asserted claims for, inter alia, strict liability negligence, and lack of informed consent. Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings based on federal preemption of all claims. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed all of Plaintiffs' claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under Kentucky's notice pleading standard, Plaintiffs' complaint sufficiently put Defendants on notice of parallel claims under Kentucky law that may not be preempted. View "Russell v. Johnson & Johnson Inc." on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Blake
The Supreme Court held that the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized from her vehicle during a traffic stop was proper.In her suppression motion, Defendant argued that the traffic stop of her vehicle was not justified because she was not required to have her license plate illuminated when Sergeant James Jenkins pulled her over. The Commonwealth acknowledged that a license plate violation may not have been a proper basis for the stop but that Detective Wade Shoemaker had reasonable suspicion of Defendant’s participation in controlled drug buys, and Det. Shoemaker’s reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant’s vehicle transferred to Sgt. Jenkins so as to justify the traffic stop. The trial court concluded that no traffic violation occurred but that law enforcement had reasonable suspicion to pull over Defendant’s vehicle. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that because Sgt. Jenkins did not actually rely on Det. Shoemaker’s information and instead made the stop based solely on the license plate violation, the collective knowledge doctrine was irrelevant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record reflected that the real reason Sgt. Jenkins pulled over Defendant’s vehicle was upon Det. Shoemaker’s request, and because Det. Shoemaker had reasonable suspicion to make the investigatory stop, suppression of the evidence was not required. View "Commonwealth v. Blake" on Justia Law
Kentucky State Police v. Scott
The failure of Terry Scott and Damon Fleming to appeal the denial of their respective grievances against the Kentucky State Police (KSP) by the Personnel Cabinet precluded their subsequent action filed in the circuit court. The trial court dismissed most of Scott’s and Fleming’s claims but nevertheless permitted the case to go forward. After a trial, the court held that Scott and Fleming had met their burden of showing a prima facie case of an equal protection violation, entitling them to equitable relief. The court of appeals affirmed, thus rejecting KSP’s argument that Scott and Fleming had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Scott’s and Fleming’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies barred their direct action in the circuit court. View "Kentucky State Police v. Scott" on Justia Law
Indiana Insurance Co. v. Demetre
When Plaintiff learned that a family occupying a residence nearby to a vacant property owned by Plaintiff was pursuing environmental claims against him, he notified his liability carrier, the Indiana Insurance Company. Indiana Insurance provided a defense and eventually settled the claims. Plaintiff later sued Indiana Insurance for bad faith arising from a breach of his insurance contract. The jury awarded Plaintiff $925,000 in emotional distress damages and $2,500,000 in punitive damages. The court of appeals affirmed. On appeal, Indiana Insurance argued that, having provided a defense and indemnification, Plaintiff had no viable bad faith claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to support the jury’s determination that Indiana Insurance breached its contract with Plaintiff and that Indiana Insurance’s acts or omissions violated the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act; (2) the trial court did not err in denying Indiana Insurance’s motion for directed verdict or judgment notwithstanding the verdict on Plaintiff’s Kentucky Consumer Protection Act claim; (3) expert testimony is unnecessary to substantiate damages for emotional distress in a bad faith case; and (4) Indiana Insurance’s two remaining allegations of error were not properly before the court for review. View "Indiana Insurance Co. v. Demetre" on Justia Law
Unifund CCR Partners v. Harrell
Carol Harrell entered into a credit card agreement with Citibank but later defaulted on her promise to repay the debt. The right to collect Harrell’s outstanding debt was later assigned to Unifund CCR Partners. Unifund filed a collection action against Harrell seeking, in addition to the outstanding balance of Harrell’s account, statutory pre-judgment interest pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 360.010(1). Harrell filed a counterclaim alleging that Unifund’s request for statutory prejudgment interest was in violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The circuit court dismissed Harrell’s counterclaim for failure to state a claim. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the circuit court erred in concluding that Unifund’s claim for statutory interest did not violate the FDCPA and in granting Unifund’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Harrell plausibly alleged that Unifund violated the FDCPA. Remanded. View "Unifund CCR Partners v. Harrell" on Justia Law
Schnuerle v. Insight Commc’ns Co., LP
Appellants, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed a class action complaint against their Internet service providers (Providers). Providers' Internet service agreement contained an arbitration clause that required customers to submit damage claims against Insight to arbitration, and it barred class action litigation against Providers by their customers. The circuit court determined the class action ban was enforceable and dismissed Appellants' complaint. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the contractual provision under which Appellants waived their right to participate in class action litigation was enforceable under federal law; (2) the service agreement's choice of law provision was not enforceable; (3) the service agreement's general arbitration provision was enforceable; and (4) the provision imposing a confidentiality requirement upon the litigants to arbitration proceedings was void and severable from the remaining portions of the agreement. Remanded for entry of a final judgment. View "Schnuerle v. Insight Commc'ns Co., LP" on Justia Law
Wells Fargo Bank v. Commonwealth
This case arose from a consolidated appeal. In the underlying cases, the respective property owners failed to satisfy their debt obligations to professional lending institutions, which precipitated the foreclosure proceedings. In both cases, the professional lenders asserted that their respective mortgages were superior to the general tax liens filed pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 134.420(2). The circuit court entered a judgment granting the professional lenders' liens priority over the other liens. The court of appeals determined that the circuit court had erred in reordering the priorities and reversed the judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals, holding (1) the prior-recorded section 134.420(2) tax liens enjoyed priority pursuant to the long established first-to-file doctrine; and (2) the doctrine of equitable subrogation does not act to relieve a professional lender of a negligent title examination.