Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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Dr. Benjamin Reid, a licensed general surgeon, filed a complaint against KentuckyOne Health, Inc. (“Hospital”) alleging various claims arising from the Hospital’s review of Reid’s surgical privileges at the Hospital. The circuit court granted the Hospital’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, concluding that Reid failed to rebut the presumption that the Hospital was immune under the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 because the Hospital’s conduct with respect to Reid was related to its professional review activities. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Hospital had taken a “professional review action” against Reid rather than a “professional review activity.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a factual dispute existed as to whether the Hospital’s actions were merely “professional review activities” that would be entitled to immunity under the Act or whether they were “professional review actions,” and (2) therefore, the record was insufficient on the immunity question under the Act. View "KentuckyOne Health, Inc. v. Reid" on Justia Law

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The Council on Developmental Disabilities, Inc. filed a request with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services seeking information about the death of Gary Farris, a ward of the Commonwealth who was transferred from an institution to a community residence shortly before his death. The Cabinet denied the Council’s request, concluding that the records were confidential under Ky. Rev. Stat. 209.140 and that the Council did not qualify as an organization exempt from the confidentiality restrictions in that statute. The trial court upheld the denial. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Council was not entitled to the requested information under either the Kentucky Open Records Act or section 209.140(3). View "Council on Developmental Disabilities, Inc. v. Cabinet for Health & Human Servs." on Justia Law

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Each of these three consolidated cases originated with the filing of an action in the circuit court asserting claims against nursing home facilities for personal injuries suffered by a nursing home resident, violations of Ky. Rev. Stat. 216.510 et seq., and for wrongful death of the resident. At the time of each resident’s admission to the nursing home, the resident’s attorney-in-fact executed a written document providing that disputes arising out of the relationship between the resident and the nursing home would be submitted to arbitration. When each case was commenced, the defendant nursing home moved the circuit court to compel the parties to submit the claims to a formal arbitration proceeding. The circuit court denied the motion in each case, concluding that the respective power-of-attorney instruments did not authorize the resident’s attorney-in-fact to waive the resident’s right to access to the courts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) without a clear and convincing manifestation of the principal’s intention to do so, delegation to an agent of the authority to waive a trial by jury is not authorized, and the principal’s assent to the waiver is not validly obtained; and (2) the arbitration agreements in these cases were never validly formed. View "Extendicare Homes, Inc. v. Whisman" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Richmond Health Facilities-Madison, LP (Richmond Health) and Extendicare, Inc. (Extendicare) alleging wrongful death, nursing-home abuse, and corporate negligence. During discovery, Plaintiff sought the production of documents relating to Richmond Health’s clinical monitoring and oversight and well as documents dealing with corporate finance matters alleged to indicate Extendicare’s negligence in funding Richmond Health. When Richmond Health and Extendicare rejected Plaintiff’s requests, the trial court ordered the co-defendants to produce the documents. The co-defendants separately sought prohibitive writs from the court of appeals, arguing that the documents were privileged and that their financial information was irrelevant. The court of appeals denied the writ petitions. The Supreme Court also affirmed the court of appeals and denied the issuance of a writ, holding that the petitions did not meet the Court’s writ standard and would be nothing more than advisory. View "Richmond Health Facilities-Madison, LP v. Madison Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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Appellants, PremierTox, Inc. and PremierTox 2.0 (collectively, PremierTox) filed an action against Kentucky Spirit Health Plan, Inc. and others (collectively, Appellees), alleging that it was owed $1.8 million by Kentucky Spirit for services it had provided to Medicaid patients and for which Kentucky Spirit had allegedly been paid by the Commonwealth. The circuit court ordered Appellees to deposit $1.8 million into an escrow account controlled by the circuit court pending adjudication of the claim. The court of appeals issued a writ to prohibit enforcement of the circuit court's order, concluding that the circuit court lacked the authority to require Appellees to pay the demanded judgment into court in advance of an adjudication that Appellees owed the money. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals to issue the writ of prohibition, holding (1) the circuit court acted erroneously in ordering Appellees to escrow the disputed funds under Ky. R. Civ. P. 67.02; (2) the circuit court's order was essentially a pre-judgment attachment for which Appellees lacked an adequate remedy on appeal or otherwise; and (3) Appellees satisfied the "irreparable injury" prong of the proper writ analysis. View "PremierTox 2.0 v. Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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Appellant, the representative of a decedent's estate, hired attorneys David Mushlin and William Nefzger and their law firm to pursue a medical negligence claim against a hospital and several physicians. The trial court later disqualified Mushlin on the ground that Mushlin's prior representation of the hospital was sufficient to create a conflict of interest or at least the appearance of impropriety. The court also noted that Nefzger and the entire firm were conflicted because Mushlin could not effectively be screened from the case and there was a great likelihood of his having constant contact with the other attorneys who would be working on the case in his stead. Appellant subsequently filed a petition for a writ of prohibition, which the court of appeals denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to show she would suffer great injustice and irreparable injury from the trial court's order disqualifying her lawyer and his law firm from representing her. View "Robertson v. Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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This case interpreted Ky. Rev. Stat. 620.050, which provides civil and criminal immunity to the reporters of suspected child dependency, neglect, and abuse. On the basis of that immunity, the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellants, Norton Hospitals, Neonatal Intensive Care Experts II, and Dr. Ketan Mehta, in a civil suit filed by Brandi Peyton for medical malpractice, negligence, and emotional distress, among other claims. Peyton alleged negligence in generating, interpreting, and reporting toxicology reports that showed Peyton had a high blood alcohol concentration the evening before giving birth to a baby. The court of appeals reversed, opining that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to who initiated the toxicology screening, which, in the court's view, affected the availability of immunity under sections 620.050(1) and 620.050(14). The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals, holding (1) the trial court did not err in finding that there was no issue of material fact as to whether Appellants acted in good faith under Ky. Rev. Stat. 620.030 in reporting the toxicology reports; and (2) Appellants were therefore entitled to immunity under section 620.050(1) as a matter of law. Remanded. View "Norton Hosps., Inc. v. Peyton" on Justia Law

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Appellant filed a medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against Hospital after Appellant's husband, who had been admitted to a psychiatric unit in Hospital where suicide precautions were taken, hung himself and died. The circuit court court ordered the disclosure of various documents that Hospital claimed were protected by the attorney-client privilege. The court of appeals found the documents were privileged and granted Hospital's requested writ of prohibition stopping the circuit court from order the disclosure of the documents. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' order, holding that the writ was erroneously granted, as Hospital failed to show that the privilege applied. View "Collins v. Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was the question of an agent's authority to bind his or her principal to an arbitration agreement presented with other documents upon the principal's admission to a long-term care facility. Agent in this case was the daughter and executrix of the deceased Principal. Agent brought a claim for negligence against the long-term care facility where Principal spent the last years of her life. Invoking an arbitration agreement executed in conjunction with Principal's admission to the nursing home, Defendants moved the trial court to dismiss the complaint. The trial court denied the motion, holding that Agent, who executed the admissions agreement on behalf of Principal, had no authority to agree to arbitration. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the agreement was enforceable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the optional arbitration agreement Agent purported to execute on Principal's behalf was beyond the scope of Agent's authority and was therefore unenforceable. View "Ping v. Beverly Enters., Inc." on Justia Law

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After Michael Beglin's wife, Jennifer, died during surgery at University Hospital, Michael sued the hospital. The jury found that the hospital, through its employees and agents, acted negligently in causing the death of Jennifer and awarded compensatory and punitive damages to Michael. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the judgment awarding compensatory damages and determined that the trial court properly gave a missing evidence instruction, but (2) vacated the punitive damages award, holding that the trial court erred in giving a punitive damages instruction under the circumstances of this case, and the court of appeals erred in affirming the judgment for punitive damages. Remanded for entry of a new judgment. View "Univ. Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Beglin" on Justia Law