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June 14, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administrator, Monday, June 17, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES—DAMAGES
HILBURN V. ENERPIPE LTD.
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED
DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED, CASE REMANDED
NO. 112,765—JUNE 14, 2019

FACTS: Hilburn was injured when her car was rear-ended by a semi owned by Enerpipe Ltd. Hilburn sued, claiming that the driver's negligence caused the accident, and that Enerpipe was vicariously liable for the driver's actions. Enerpipe admitted to both of these facts, and a trial was held only on the issue of damages. A jury awarded Hilburn $335,000 which included $33,490.86 for medical expenses and $301,509.14 for noneconomic losses. Defense counsel prepared a verdict form with a total award of $283,490.86 which represented the jury's total award with the amount adjusted to reflect the $250,000 cap of K.S.A. 60-19a02(d). Hilburn objected, claiming the statutory cap was unconstitutional under sections 1, 5, and 18 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. The district court affirmed the lesser award and Hilburn appealed. The court of appeals affirmed, believed itself to be bound by prior Supreme Court decisions. Hilburn's petition for review was granted.

ISSUES: (1) Issue preservation; (2) quid pro quo test for section 5 claims; (3) facts versus policy

HELD: The version of Supreme Court rule 8.03 in effect at the time Hilburn filed her petition for review allows the court to address a plain error not presented. The issue of whether the quid pro quo test applies to Hilburn's section 5 claim was properly preserved under the old rule because Hilburn preserved it in the district court and it was addressed by the court of appeals. Section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights preserves the jury trial right as it historically existed at common law. This protection extends to a determination of noneconomic damages. K.S.A. 60-19a02 infringes on this constitutional right. In the past, this infringement has been excused by the two-part quid pro quo test applied through a section 18 analysis. However, continued application of the prior decision in Miller, relying on stare decisis, cannot withstand scrutiny. The section 5 right to jury trial is completely distinct from the section 18 right to remedy. A statutory cap substitutes the legislature's nonspecific judgment for a jury's specific judgment. This runs afoul of the constitution's grant of an "inviolate" right to a jury. The cap on damages imposed by K.S.A. 60-19a02 is facially unconstitutional because it violates section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.

CONCURRENCE: (Stegall, J.) Justice Stegall agrees that the quid pro quo test should be reversed in favor of an application of the plain and original public meaning of section 5. He first considers whether K.S.A. 60-19a02 even implicates section 5 and concludes that it does, since K.S.A. 60-19a02 is a procedural measure affecting who decides a particular question.

DISSENT: (Luckert, J. joined by Biles, J.) She would continue to apply stare decisis and follow Miller, analyzing this issue under the quid pro quo test. She believes Hilburn did not properly preserve this issue in her petition for review. And even if the issue is analyzed on the merits, she believes that mandatory motor carrier liability insurance provides an adequate substitute remedy for litigants.

STATUTES: Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights Sections 1, 5, and 18; K.S.A. 60-19a02, -19a02(d)

DUI—FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS—SEARCH AND SEIZURE
CASPER V. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED
DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED
NO. 115,352—JUNE 14, 2019

FACTS: Casper's driving privileges were suspended after she was arrested and refused to take a blood alcohol test. An officer saw Casper make a wide turn. He followed her and did not notice any other indicators of impairment, but he still initiated a stop. The officer testified that Casper was initially cooperative but later claimed that she failed her field sobriety tests: a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a walk-and-turn test, and a balance-on-one-foot test. After these failures, Casper was arrested. She refused to take a breathalyzer test. Based on her refusal to take a blood test, Casper's driving privileges were suspended. She appealed, but the decision was affirmed after the hearing officer found that law enforcement had reasonable grounds to believe that Casper was under the influence. The district court disagreed, holding that Casper showed that the officer lacked reasonable grounds for believing that she was driving under the influence. The Department of Revenue appealed and the court of appeals reversed the district court, finding that there were adequate grounds for the stop and arrest. Casper's petition for review was granted.

ISSUE: (1) Factual grounds for a stop

HELD: Casper's license could only be suspended if the initial arrest was lawful. And in order to have a lawful arrest, there must have been probable cause to justify the arrest. There was no evidence that Casper's breath bore a strong odor of alcohol. The district court correctly heard all of the testimony and reviewed the recordings. The evidence before the district court was substantial and competent and the court made reasonable inferences from that evidence. The court of appeals improperly discounted those findings and should have given more deference to the district court as fact-finder. The district court's reversal of the hearing officer was supported by substantial competent evidence and should be affirmed.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 8-1002(a)(1), -1001(b)(1)(a), -1020(a), -1020(h)(1)(B)

SCHOOL FINANCE
GANNON V. STATE
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—PROPOSED REMEDY
SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLIES
NO. 113,267—JUNE 14, 2019

FACTS: In June 2018, the court acknowledged that almost all issues in the long-running school finance litigation had been resolved. The court found that the equity piece was satisfied, and although the adequacy piece was not yet met, the court recognized an "intent to comply." The mandate was stayed until the end of the fiscal year in order to give the State more time to make financial adjustments and reach constitutional compliance for adequacy. The legislature's proposed remedy was through passage of 2019 House Substitute for Senate Bill 16, which was passed and signed by the governor in April 2019. The bill attempts to cover inflation with additional funding, completing the safe harbor remediation plan. Senate Bill 16 now comes to the court for review.

ISSUE: (1) Compliance with safe harbor plan and accounting for inflation

HELD: The "safe harbor" plan involves the State returning to the basic funding plan approved in 2009-10, with adjustments made for inflation. These 2009-10 calculations included adjustments for virtual state aid. S.B. 16 accounts for inflation by increasing the specific base aid figure for each of the remaining four years of the remediation plan. S.B. 16 substantially complies with prior court decisions and adequately funds education. The court retains jurisdiction to ensure continued implementation of the scheduled funding.

STATUTES: Article 6, § 6(b) of the Kansas Constitution; K.S.A. 72-5132(a) 

Criminal

CRIMINAL HISTORY—JURISDICTION—SENTENCING
STATE V. WEBER
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED
DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED
NO. 113,472—JUNE 14, 2019

FACTS: Weber pled guilty to attempted robbery. The plea agreement assumed that his criminal history score would be C. A presentence investigation report revealed two Michigan convictions which, if scored as person felonies, would increase his criminal history score to B. The district court imposed sentence using the B score. Weber did not directly appeal his conviction or sentence. Some years later, Weber filed a motion to correct illegal sentence based on the State v. Murdock holding; he argued that because Kansas statutes did not use the person/nonperson designations at the time of his conviction, his out-of-state convictions should be designated as nonperson felonies. The district court denied his motion and Weber appealed. The court of appeals affirmed, citing Keel and Murdock II and noting that the test was to look for comparable offenses. Weber's petition for review was granted.

ISSUES: (1) Letter of additional authority; (2) sentencing authority

HELD: The State could not use a Rule 6.09(b) letter as a substitute for a responsive brief. The statutory changes and case law updates occurred well before the State's briefing deadline would have passed. Wetrich was a change in the law. Under the law at the time of Weber's sentencing, offenses had to be comparable but not identical. Because Weber's Michigan offense was comparable to a Kansas offense, his sentence was not illegal.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-6811(e), -6811(e)(3); 22-3504(3); K.S.A. 21-4711(e)

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

PATERNITY
STATE EX REL SECRETARY OF DCF V. MANSON
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 119,134—JUNE 14, 2019

FACTS: Traig Manson executed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (VAP) acknowledging that he was C.M.'s father. When Manson was asked to pay child support, he produced genetic testing results which allegedly showed that he was not C.M.'s biological father. He also claimed that he had no relationship with the child and that the child referred to another man as "Dad." The district court conducted a Ross hearing to determine whether official genetic testing was in two year old C.M.'s best interests. At the hearing, Manson explained that he allowed his name to go on C.M.'s birth certificate to help out the biological mother, but that he had never really had a true paternal relationship with C.M. In an effort to obtain support for C.M., DCF produced the VAP that Manson signed and noted that he did not rescind the signature within one year. The district court ruled that genetic testing was not in C.M.'s best interests and Manson appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Effect of VAP

HELD: Because Manson did not rescind his acknowledgement of paternity within one year, he remains C.M.'s father. Even if testing revealed that Manson was not C.M.'s father, he would still be required to pay child support because of the VAP. For that reason, the district court correctly refused to order genetic testing.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 23-2204, -2204(b)(1)

Tags:  8807  DUI  field sobriety tests  paternity  school finance  search and seizure  Sedgwick District  Shawnee District 

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