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April 9 and April 12, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 15, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

 

Attorney Discipline

ORDER OF DISBARMENT
IN RE PATRICK GEORGE COPLEY
NO. 20,699—APRIL 9, 2019

FACTS: In a letter dated April 1, 2019, Patrick George Copley surrendered his license to practice law in Kansas. At the time of surrender, two disciplinary complaints were pending with the Disciplinary Administrator.

HELD: The Court accepts the surrender of Copley's license and orders that he be disbarred.

 

Civil

WORKERS COMPENSATION
ESTATE OF GRABER V. DILLON COMPANIES
WORKERS COMPENSATION BOARD—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED,
BOARD IS REVERSED, CASE REMANDED
NO. 113,412 – APRIL 12, 2019

FACTS: Graber was injured after he fell down some stairs while at work. Graber did not remember the accident, and there were no witnesses or any evidence to suggest how the accident happened. Graber applied for workers compensation benefits. An ALJ awarded him benefits, finding that the injury arose in and out of the course of his employment. Dillon appealed, claiming that because the cause of the accident was unknown, Graber's injuries arose from an idiopathic cause and were not compensable. The Board agreed with Dillon, holding that after 2011 amendments to the workers compensation statutes, idiopathic falls are not compensable. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that "idiopathic" means something personal or innate to the claimant. The Supreme Court granted Dillon's petition for review.

ISSUES: (1) First impression question of the meaning of the term "idiopathic causes"

HELD: The legislative history does not address the "idiopathic causes" exclusion. "Idiopathic" means more than "spontaneous" or "unknown." Rather, it is connected with medical conditions and is not a synonym for all unknown causes. For that reason, the idiopathic exclusion is narrow. It applies only if there is proof that an injury or accident arose directly or indirectly from a medical condition or medical event of unknown origin which is peculiar to the claimant. The case must be remanded for further factfinding by the Board.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 44-501b(b), -508(f), -508(f)(3)(A)(iii), -508(f)(3)(A)(iv), 77-621(a), -621(c), -621(d)

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

 

Civil

INSURANCE—WRITTEN INSTRUMENTS
SHORT V. BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF KANSAS, INC.
SALINE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 118,688—APRIL 12, 2019

FACTS: Short was involved in an accident which required the amputation of both legs—one below the knee and one above the knee. Short requested that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Inc. provide coverage for multiple prosthetics. One of the requested prosthetics was an Ottobock X3 Microprocessor leg and knee. Blue Cross denied coverage, citing the insurance contract which excluded from coverage "deluxe or electrically operated" prosthetics. Blue Cross acknowledged that a prosthetic leg was medically necessary, and it offered to pay the price of a standard knee. Short believed that Blue Cross should pay for the Ottobock X3, and he sued for breach of contract. During discovery Short requested documents beyond the insurance contract in an attempt to delve in to the policy behind Blue Cross' denial. Blue Cross refused to provide them, on grounds that the case was a straightforward contract dispute. The district court agreed and refused to compel production of the documents requested by Short. The district court granted Blue Cross' motion for summary judgment, finding that the Ottobock X3 was clearly excluded from coverage by the plain language of Short's insurance policy. Short appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Whether insurance policy is ambiguous; (2) listings of exclusions; (3) summary judgment review; (4) scope of discovery

HELD: There is no dispute that a prosthetic knee is medically necessary for Short. The insurance policy provides enough detail to support the district court's ruling that the policy is not ambiguous. The policy covers a nonelectric device that does what is absolutely necessary to treat the insured's condition. If the insured wants a device that does more, Blue Cross will pay for a standard device and the insured can pay the difference. Because the policy is unambiguous, there is no need to apply doctrines of construction. This insurance policy does not contravene public policy. It is undisputed that the Ottobock X3 is an electronically operated device, which is excluded by the plain language of Short's insurance policy. This case centers on application of a limitations clause, which involves questions of fact. For this reason, Short should have been given access to the documents he requested in discovery. The district court abused its discretion by failing to compel discovery. But the error was harmless.

DISSENT: (Atcheson, J.) There is some ambiguity in the insurance contract and there remain questions of fact. For that reason, summary judgment was inappropriate. This case should be remanded for further proceedings.

STATUTES: No statutes cited.

 

Criminal

EVIDENCE—SUPPRESSION—WELFARE CHECK
STATE V. MANWARREN
RENO DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,520—APRIL 12, 2019

FACTS: After receiving a tip, officers found Manwarren lying in a ditch. When the officers arrived on the scene Manwarren rose to greet them. The officers began a welfare check and noted there was no indication of criminal activity, and Manwarren did not appear to be injured or intoxicated. Officers asked for and received Manwarren's photo ID. Instead of returning the card to Manwarren, officers ran a warrant check which returned a warrant for failure-to-appear. After confirming the warrant, Manwarren was arrested. After he was handcuffed, Manwarren answered officers' questions by admitting that he had drugs and scales in his backpack. Manwarren was charged with various crimes relating to this drug possession. Prior to trial, he filed a motion to suppress in which he claimed that the police impermissibly converted a welfare check to an investigatory detention without having reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The district court agreed, finding that running a warrant check was beyond the scope of a welfare check where there was no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The State appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Voluntariness of the encounter; (2) application of the attenuation doctrine

HELD: The encounter between police and Manwarren began as a welfare check. But once the officer obtained and then kept Manwarren's identification card, the encounter turned into a seizure. In the absence of any evidence of criminal activity, the warrant check went beyond the scope of a welfare check and evolved into an illegal detention.  Very little time elapsed between the illegal seizure of Manwarren and the discovery of the drugs in his backpack. Police officers were polite and courteous and did not appear to know they were violating Manwarren's rights. But running a warrant check as part of a welfare check is not a good-faith mistake. It is misconduct and should be punished by excluding the evidence discovered.

STATUTES: No statutes cited.

 

Tags:  Disbarment  Reno District  Saline District 

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