Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
EagleMed v. Travelers Insurance
In this consolidated workers compensation appeal arising from disputes between EagleMed, LLC, a critical care transportation service, and Travelers Insurance, a workers compensation insurance carrier, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' judgment directing the Workers Compensation Appeals Board to dismiss this proceeding, holding that remand was required.49 U.S.C. 41713(b)(1) prohibits states from enacting or enforcing any law related to a service of an air carrier providing air transportation. Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-510i(c)(2) requires the Director of the Division of Workers Compensation to oversee health care provider services to ensure charges are "fair, reasonable, and necessary." At issue was the phrase "usual and customary charges." The Board decided it lacked jurisdiction to determine the reasonableness of air ambulance charges that would reduce the amount owed, made no factual determination whether the disputed billings were "usual and customary charges," and ordered Travelers to pay in full. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court vacated the panel's decision and the Board's order that Travelers pay EagleMed in full and remanded the case for the Board to decide whether the charges were "usual and customary," holding that the Board will need to interpret this term in a manner reflecting both federal law and the state's legislative purposes. View "EagleMed v. Travelers Insurance" on Justia Law
Schmidt v. Trademark, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of a panel of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to the Kansas Workers Compensation Fund on the Fund's collateral action against Trademark, Inc., holding that there was no error.After Juan Medina received a workplace injury he sought compensation from his direct employer under the Kansas Workers Compensation Act, Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-501 et seq. Because the employer did not carry workers compensation insurance, Medina impleaded the Fund to obtain benefits. Thereafter, an ALJ awarded compensation to Medina, and the Fund paid Medina benefits. The Fund then filed this action under Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-532a against Trademark, the general contractor for whom Medina's employer was acting as a subcontractor at the time of the injury. The district court granted summary judgment to the Fund and denied attorney fees. The court of appeals panel affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the lower courts correctly interpreted section 44-532a as allowing the Fund to pursue an action against Trademark; but (2) the Fund was not entitled to attorney fees. View "Schmidt v. Trademark, Inc." on Justia Law
In re Tax Appeal of River Rock Energy Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BOTA) upholding county appraisers' application of the Kansas Oil and Gas Appraisal Guide developed by the Kansas Department of Revenue's Property Valuation Division for valuations given for the 2016 tax year to the working interest of River Rock Energy Co. in 203 gas wells and related equipment, holding that the BOTA did not err.In its dispute, River Rock argued that the Guide produced inflated values for its working gas leases by capping operating expense allowances to arrived at a "working interest minimum lease value." The BOTA upheld the county appraisers' application of the Guide. The court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the Guide overvalued River Rock's wells. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the county appraisers correctly applied the Guide; and (2) the court of appeals correctly decided that it had jurisdiction to entertain River Rock's challenge to BOTA's order refusing to abate filing fees. View "In re Tax Appeal of River Rock Energy Co." on Justia Law
Hanson v. Kansas Corp. Commission
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the lower courts that a natural gas utility company's invoicing practice was "unjust, unreasonable, [or] unfair" under Kan. Stat. Ann. 66-1,206(a), holding that the lower courts reached the correct conclusion.Plaintiffs complained to the Kansas Corporation Commission about Texas-Kansas-Oklahoma Gas, LLC's (TKO) billing practices. The Commission decided that Plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of proving that TKO's rates or practices with regard to them were unreasonable. On review, the district court agreed with Plaintiffs and remanded the case to the Commission to calculate how much TKO overbilled Plaintiffs. The court of appeals agreed that the Commission erred in its analysis of TKO's billing methodology but altered the district court's refund directive and ordered the Commission to decide an appropriate remedy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) TKO's calculating method constituted an unlawful practice; and (2) the case is remanded to the Commission to fashion an appropriate remedy. View "Hanson v. Kansas Corp. Commission" on Justia Law
Hawkins v. Southwest Kansas Co-op Service
In this case involving an Employer's subrogation interest in a $1.5 million settlement, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the Workers Compensation Board calculating the subrogation interest for Employer and remanding for a larger reduction, holding that the Board correctly determined the calculations.Employee suffered a workplace injury and received workers compensation benefits from Employer and its insurance carrier. Employee sued three other entities he claimed were liable for some or all of his injuries and settled with two of those entities. In this matter, Employer and its insurer sought to be repaid from one of those settlements under Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-504(b). The jury found Employer twenty-five percent at fault and assessed Employee's damages at more than $4 million. The Board reduced the subrogation interest for Employer's past and future expenses by twenty-five percent of the settlement, but the court of appeals concluded that the reduction should be by twenty-five percent of the jury's award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board did not err in calculating Employer's subrogation interest. View "Hawkins v. Southwest Kansas Co-op Service" on Justia Law
Johnson v. U.S. Food Service
In this workers compensation case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-510e(a)(2)(B) was unconstitutional on its face, holding that the statute is constitutional.Appellant was injured during his employment and filed for workers compensation benefits. A doctor rated Appellant's permanent partial impairment using the Sixth Edition of the American Medical Association Guides, as adopted by the Kansas Workers Compensation Act. See section 44-510e(a)(2)(B). The court of appeals reversed, holding that the statute's use of the Sixth Edition was unconstitutional on its face because it changed the essential legal standard for determining functional impairment. The Supreme Court reversed after construing the ambiguous statutory language to avoid the constitutional question, holding that the language of section 44-510e(a)(2)(B) referencing the Sixth Edition can reasonably be interpreted as a guideline rather than a mandate. View "Johnson v. U.S. Food Service" on Justia Law
Whigham v. Kansas Department of Revenue
In this driver's license suspension case, the Supreme Court affirmed the conclusions of the district court and the court of appeals that the implied consent advisory substantially complied with the applicable statute and that any defects in the statute that make the advisory coercive did not prejudice Defendant.Defendant's driver's license was suspended after he refused to submit to a breath test after he was arrested for driving under the influence. On appeal, Defendant argued that evidence of his test refusal should have been suppressed because of an unlawful encounter with law enforcement officers. The court of appeals affirmed without addressing whether the law enforcement encounter was unlawful. The Supreme Court applied the holding of State v. Jarvis, __ P.3d __ (this day decided), and reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) Defendant may argue that his suspension order is invalid and should be set aside under Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1020(o)-(q); and (2) the implied consent advisory substantially complied with the applicable statute, and any defects in the statute did not prejudice Defendant. View "Whigham v. Kansas Department of Revenue" on Justia Law
In re Equalization Appeals of Target Corp.
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals that it lacked jurisdiction to review the failure by the Board of Tax Appeals (BOTA) to issue a full and complete opinion in an ad valorem tax dispute after the opinion was requested, holding that the court erred when it concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the allegation that BOTA illegally failed timely to issue a full and complete opinion.Taxpayers appealed Johnson County's ad valorem tax valuations for the 2016 tax year on seven commercial properties. The BOTA entered a written summary decision ordering lower values for each property. Five weeks later, the County asked BOTA to issue the full and complete opinion. BOTA failed to do so. The County petitioned the court of appeals for judicial review. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded, holding that the court of appeals (1) had jurisdiction over the issue of whether BOTA acted properly in failing timely to issue a full and complete opinion; and (2) correctly dismissed the appeal as it pertained to the County's effort to obtain judicial review of the summary decision. View "In re Equalization Appeals of Target Corp." on Justia Law
Kelly v. Legislative Coordinating Council
In this controversy arising from emergency proclamation issued by Governor Laura Kelly in response to the global public health crisis related to COVID-19 and her follow-up executive orders the Supreme Court granted in part the Governor's petition in quo warranto, holding that the Legislative Coordinating Council's purported revocation of Executive Order 20-18 was a nullity because the LCC did not act within its lawful authority.On March 12, the Governor proclaimed a state of disaster emergency. The Legislature then adopted House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 5025 extending the Governor's declaration to May 1, 2020. On April 7, the Governor issued Executive Order 20-18 relating to her March 12 emergency proclamation. The executive order temporarily prohibited mass gatherings, including religious gatherings and funerals. On April 8, the LCC revoked Executive Order 20-18. On April 9, Governor Kelly filed this original action in quo warranto challenging the purported revocation of her executive order. The Supreme Court granted the petition in part, holding that the Legislature's alleged revocation of the executive order was a nullity because the LCC lacked authority to do so under the terms of HCR 5025. View "Kelly v. Legislative Coordinating Council" on Justia Law
Hawkins v. Southwest Kansas Co-op Service
In this case concerning the application of the statutory scheme permitting an employer that has provided workers compensation benefits to an injured employee to obtain both a subrogation interest in any recovery the employee receives from a third party and a credit for future benefits, the Supreme Court held that the Workers Compensation Board used the improper method for determining the subrogation lien and the future credit.In Employee's third party negligence action, the jury decided both the fault of Employer and the measure of Employee's damages from his workplace injury. The Board applied the jury's finding of fault to Employee's settlement with one of several defendants in his negligence action to compute the reduction in Employer's subrogation lien and future credit for workers compensation benefits it provided or will provide to Employee. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) consistent with Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-504(b), Employer's credit for future benefits should have been determined using each annual settlement payment to Employee from one of the third-party defendants when the payment was received; and (2) the Board erred in aggregating those payments and relying on the total amount when Employee would not receive the last installment for twenty years. View "Hawkins v. Southwest Kansas Co-op Service" on Justia Law