Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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A crane permanently attached to a truck chassis and associated tools do not qualify as cargo under 49 U.S.C. 31101(1), and therefore, the truck does not qualify as a commercial vehicle subject to registration and fee requirements under the federal Unified Carrier Registration Act (UCR). The Kansas Corporation Commission fined Appellant, whose truck was stopped by a highway patrol trooper, for failure to register and pay the fee required by the Act. Appellant requested a hearing to challenge the UCR violation. The Kansas Corporation Commission upheld the fine, concluding that Appellant’s truck was a commercial motor vehicle. The district court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and vacated the fine, holding that the Commission, district judge, and court of appeals erroneously affirmed the fine because Appellant’s crane and tools did not qualify as cargo, and therefore, the truck was not a commercial motor vehicle in Appellant’s fleet. View "Midwest Crane & Rigging, LLC v. Kansas Corp. Commission" on Justia Law

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The Wabaunsee Board of County Commissioners appointed Robert Miller to serve a four-year term as Wabaunsee County Appraiser. Nearly two years into Miller’s appointment, the Board voted to terminate Miller and stop paying his salary and benefits. Miller exercised his statutory right under Kan. Stat. Ann. 19-431 to have his termination reviewed in an administrative hearing. An administrative law judge (ALJ) initially ordered the Board to reinstate Miller, but the district court vacated the decision. On remand, the ALJ gave deference to the Board’s decision and upheld Miller’s termination. Miller appealed, arguing that his termination was not in accordance with Kan. Stat. Ann. 19-431 because the Board did not have the authority to terminate a county appraiser. The district court affirmed the termination. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 19-431 did not grant the Board the final authority to terminate Miller’s employment and thereby end his salary and benefits. Remanded with an order to determine the amount of back pay owed to Miller. View "Miller v. Board of Wabaunsee County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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Mark Byers, who worked as a grinder at Acme Foundry, was injured in a workplace accident. After Byers was released from the hospital he agreed to do a drug test. Byers’ urine sample was thrown into the trash, however, when Acme’s in-house nurse determined that there was not enough urine in the collection cup. An administrative law judge concluded that Byers forfeited his benefits under the Workers Compensation Act by providing an inadequate urine sample for testing. The Workers Compensation Board upheld that ruling. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Byers’ actions did not amount to a refusal. Remanded. View "Byers v. Acme Foundry" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Sperry, an inmate at the Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF), filed a lawsuit seeking civil damages from the LCF Warden and the Secretary of Corrections, alleging that he had been exposed to lead paint and asbestos while incarcerated at LCF. The district court dismissed all claims except Sperry’s claims against the Warden and Secretary in their individual capacities. Approximately two years later, the district court dismissed all remaining claims when ruling on multiple motions to dismiss filed by the Warden and Secretary. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of Sperry’s state law claims and reversed the dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim. The Warden and Secretary petitioned for review, arguing that the district court and court of appeals erred in considering material outside the pleadings when ruling on motions to dismiss. Sperry cross-petitioned for review, arguing that the lower courts erred in ruling that his failure to attach proof that he exhausted his administrative remedies required dismissing his state law claims. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision that Sperry’s claims must be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, holding that the district court and court of appeals erred in not enforcing the requirements of Supreme Court Rule 141, and the error was not harmless. View "Sperry v. McKune" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s probationary employment was terminated by Kansas State University. Plaintiff sued the University, arguing that her employment termination was in retaliation for her potential claims under the Kansas Workers Compensation Act. The district court granted the University’s motion to dismiss, determining that Plaintiff did not exhaust her administrative remedies because Plaintiff was required under the Kansas Judicial Review Act (KJRA) to first present her retaliatory discharge claim to the University for determination. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff’s claims were not governed by the KJRA and, therefore, jurisdiction was proper in the district court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s tort claim was not governed by the KJRA. Remanded. View "Platt v. Kansas State Univ." on Justia Law

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Petitioner, an inmate, was disciplined for violating K.A.R. 44-12-301, the regulatory prohibition on fighting. Petitioner filed a Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1501 petition against the warden of the correctional facility where Petitioner was incarcerated, arguing that his due process rights were violated because the finding by the hearing officer that Petitioner violated K.A.R. 44-12-301 was unsupported by the evidence. The district court reversed the disciplinary hearing panel’s findings, ruling that the hearing officer could not have reasonably found Petitioner guilty. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and affirmed the district court’s ruling, holding that Petitioner was not accorded due process when he was found to have violated K.A.R. 44-12-301, as there was a complete failure of proof of one of the elements of the offense. View "May v. Cline" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Johnson County appraised the value of Kristin Wagner’s property at $569,000. Wagner filed a protest form with the Court of Tax Appeals (COTA), which determined that the appraised value for tax year 2011 should be reduced to $553,600. Wagner appealed. While the 2011 appeal was pending, the County appraised Wagner’s property for the 2012 tax year at $537,000. Wagner challenged the 2012 appraisal. On remand, with regard to the 2011 tax appeal, COTA established the the value of Wagner’s home at $494,200. COTA then established the value of Wagner’s property for the 2012 tax year at $494,200 - the same amount as the property’s 2011 final appraised value. Wagner filed a petition for judicial review. The court of appeals affirmed COTA’s decision, ruling that COTA properly used the 2011 valuation to determine the home’s value for the 2012 tax year. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that COTA ignored evidence in the record establishing that Wagner’s home suffered a 2.94 percent decrease in value between 2011 and 2012. Remanded with directions that Wagner’s home be valued at $479,600 for the 2012 tax year. View "In re Equalization Appeal of Wagner" on Justia Law

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After Appellant quit her job, a Kansas Department of Labor denied Appellant’s claim for unemployment benefits. The Kansas Employment Security Board of Review affirmed the examiner’s denial. Appellant filed a motion to reconsider, which the Board declined to entertain. Thirty-six days after the Board mailed its decision affirming the examiner, Appellant filed a petition for judicial review. The district court judge dismissed Appellant’s petition for lack of jurisdiction because the thirty-six days exceeded a sixteen-day finality time period provided for in the Kansas Employment Security Law and a thirty-day filing deadline under the Kansas Judicial Review Act. The court of appeals reversed the dismissal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant’s motion for Board reconsideration of its initial decision was within the sixteen-day window for finality under the version of Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-709(i) in effect at the time, and Appellant’s petition for judicial review was filed well before thirty days since the Board’s final order had passed. Remanded. View "Norris v. Kan. Employment Security Bd. of Review" on Justia Law

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Appellant was injured in a compensable workplace accident. Prior to his injury, Appellant was receiving social security retirement benefits and earning additional employment income without a reduction in his social security because he had reached full retirement age. Based on Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-501(h), the offset statute, an administrative law judge determined that Employer could use Appellant’s social security benefit to offset its workers compensation obligation. The Workers Compensation Board affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed the Board’s offset, holding that section 44-501(h) does not apply when the claimant has reached full retirement age and was already receiving social security retirement benefits at the time of injury. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Dickens v. Pizza Co., Inc. and its progeny, which limited the statutory offset under section 44-501(h) and permitted already-retired claimants working to supplement their social security at the time of injury, improperly give effect to a perceived legislative purpose underlying section 44-501 that is contrary to the statutory text’s clearly expressed meaning; and (2) section 44-501(h) unambiguously provides that any workers compensation payments are subject to the offset when the injured worker is simultaneously receiving social security retirement benefits. View "Hoesli v. Triplett, Inc." on Justia Law

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A baby was born premature on a city street in Wichita. A child in need of care (CINC) petition was filed, and custody of the baby was granted to the Secretary of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). Foster Parents accepted the baby as their foster child, and Mother voluntarily relinquished her parental rights. SRS then initiated efforts for Maternal Cousins to adopt the child. Foster Parents, however, also wanted to adopt the child. The CINC court concluded that SRS had failed to make reasonable efforts or progress towards the child’s adoption and granted Foster Parents custody of the child with permission to adopt. The district court approved Foster Parents’ adoption of the child. Maternal Cousins appealed from the CINC proceeding. Foster Parents filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the CINC order was not one of those enumerated in the Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children (Revised Code) as appealable. The court of appeals denied the motion and then reversed the CINC court. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and dismissed the appeal, holding that there was no appellate jurisdiction to review the post-termination decisions at issue under the Revised Code’s appellate jurisdiction statute. View "In re N.A.C." on Justia Law