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June 26, 2020 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 29, 2020

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

PUBLIC DUTY—TORTS
MONTGOMERY V. SALEH
SHAWNEE DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED, DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART
NO. 117,518—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: Trooper Saleh initiated a traffic stop when he was informed that a passenger in the vehicle had a knife and was acting erratically. The driver rapidly accelerated and drove recklessly, running stop signs and red lights while his speed reached near 100 miles per hour. Saleh decided to stop pursuit, but not before the driver ran a red light and hit a pickup truck, injuring Montgomery and another individual named Bennett. The plaintiffs filed separate petitions alleging that Saleh was negligent and that the State was liable for his actions. The State moved for summary judgment, arguing that even if the plaintiffs could prove negligence there was no duty owed by Saleh under the public duty doctrine. The district court granted the motion, rejecting application of both the public duty doctrine and Kansas Tort Claims Act immunity. But the district court ruled the plaintiffs failed to proffer evidence sufficient to support a finding of causation in fact. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's findings on immunity and the public duty doctrine but remanded the case for further action on proof of causation. The Supreme Court granted Trooper Saleh and the State's petition for review.

ISSUES: (1) Application of the public duty doctrine; (2) breach; (3) causation; (4) immunity

HELD: The plain language of K.S.A. 8-1506 required emergency vehicle drivers to "drive with due regard for the safety of all persons." This language shows that the legislature did not intend to exempt emergency vehicle drivers from the consequences of reckless conduct. This statute imposes a specific duty on law enforcement and individuals may sue if they believe this duty has been breached. In order to prevail, the plaintiffs must prove that Saleh acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others. The evidence presented to the district court showed there is a material issue of fact as to whether Saleh exhibited reckless disregard when continuing to pursue the fleeing driver. Law enforcement's conduct during a pursuit can be the legal cause of a third party's injuries. Given the evidence presented to the district court, a jury could have found that the driver knew he was being pursued by Saleh. Because there is a statutory duty created by K.S.A. 8-1506(d), the discretionary function exception does not apply to Saleh's pursuit of the fleeing driver.

DISSENT: (Rosen, J., joined by Stegall, J., and Green, J., assigned) Justice Rosen would reverse the Court of Appeals and affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment, holding that the plaintiffs failed to establish a prima facie case that Saleh breached his duty of care under K.S.A. 8-1506.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 8-1506, -1506(d), 75-6101(b), -6103(a), -6104, -6104(e), -6104(n)

CONTRACTS
RUSSELL V. TREANOR INVESTMENTS
DOUGLAS DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS AFFIRMED, DISTRICT COURT IS AFFIRMED
NO. 117,973—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: In 1997, the owner of two adjacent properties executed and recorded an Operation and Easement Agreement. The OEA restricted the building size and prohibited either property from being used as a regular grocery store. The OEA allowed for amendment if all of the current owners agreed in writing, and the OEA was amended to alter the original site plan. The amendment allowed for the creation of a multi-unit buildings with condominiums and retail space; Russell purchased a unit in the building in 2010. Treanor Investments purchased part of the property covered by the OEA in 2015, with hopes to amend the OEA and enlarge the property footprint to encompass a grocery store. Russell filed suit, claiming the OEA could not be amended without condominium owner consent. The parties filed competing motions for summary judgment and the district court agreed with Treanor, finding that it had been designated as the responsible owner, who had authority to act on behalf of other owners. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the OEA and its amendments were clear and unambiguous in allowing the responsible owner to act on others' behalf. Russell's petition for review was granted.

ISSUES: (1) Authority to amend the OEA; (2) can amendment materially change the character of the real estate

HELD: The language of the OEA is plain and unambiguous, and it allows for the designation of a responsible owner to act on others' behalf. This language existed before Russell purchased his condominium. Nothing in the language prevents the responsible owner from further amending the OEA to alter size and use restrictions. Russell failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact about whether the proposed changes to the property would cause a material change in circumstances.

STATUTES: No statutes cited.

criminal

appeals—constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence 
state v. George
finney district court—affirmed
no. 120,190—june 26, 2020

FACTS: George convicted of first-degree murder, attempted distribution of a controlled substance, attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and criminal possession of a firearm. He appealed claiming: (1) his convictions were multiplicitous, arguing three of his convictions “folded” into one another and became a single offense; (2) prosecutorial error during cross-examination of a witness by commenting on the witness’ credibility; (3) trial court erred by allowing a witness to invoke Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify where the witness had been convicted and sentenced but his appeal was still pending; and (4) cumulative error denied him a fair trial.

ISSUES: (1) Multiplicity; (2) prosecutorial error; (3) invocation of Fifth Amendment; (4) cumulative error

HELD: George’s convictions are not multiplicitous. Elements of each of three crimes arising from the same conduct but grounded in three different statutes are examined, finding: attempted aggravated robbery and aggravated assault are not multiplicitous; attempted distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and attempted aggravated robbery are not multiplicitous; and attempted distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance is not multiplicitous with aggravated assault.

            George failed to preserve his evidentiary claim and cannot evade the contemporaneous objection requirement demanded by K.S.A. 60-404 by reframing the issue as one of prosecutorial error. Defense counsel objected to the State’s cross-examination question as going “beyond the scope” of direct examination, but did not argue any grounds relating to impeachment or character evidence. This was insufficient for appellate review of the issue now claimed.

            Error resulting from district court’s exclusion of a witness’ testimony, if any, was harmless. Court declines to decide whether a plea of nolo contendere waives the privilege against self-incrimination after sentencing but before the conclusion of direct appeals. Even if error is assumed in this case, the error is harmless because the substance of this witness’ proffered testimony was entirely presented at trial through the testimony of a detective.

            Cumulative error doctrine does not apply in case having only one assumed error.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5301, -5301(a), -5412(a), -5412(b)(1), -5420, -5420(a), -5420(b), -5705(a)(1), -5705(d)(3)(C), 22-3601(b)(4), 60-261; K.S.A. 60-404, -422(c)

criminal procedure—evidence—sentencing—statutes
state v. satchell
sedgwick district court—affirmed in part and vacated in part
court of appeals—affirmed in part and reversed in part
no. 116,151—june 26, 2020

FACTS: Satchell charged with 2014 sexual offenses involving two children. To show his propensity to sexually abuse children, State was allowed to present evidence under K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455(d) about Satchell’s 2010 abuse of three other children under similar circumstances. Jury convicted Satchell on all counts. Sentencing court ordered consecutive “hard 25” sentences for the eight off-grid offenses, followed by 100 months in prison for criminal sodomy. Court also ordered lifetime parole for the off-grid offenses and lifetime postrelease supervision for the on-grid offense. On appeal, Satchell claimed in part the district should not have allowed the 60-455 evidence because it was unduly prejudicial, and argued he should not have been given lifetime postrelease supervision. In unpublished opinion, Court of Appeals rejected both claims. Review granted

ISSUES: (1) K.S.A. 60-455 evidence; (2) sentencing

HELD: District court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of the 2010 allegations. The 2010 evidence, if true, would be relevant. At issue is whether the probative value of this evidence was substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice. Factors in State v. Boysaw, 309 Kan. 526 (2019), to be considered in determining probative value and undue prejudice are analyzed on facts in this case. In balancing those factors, the district court can exclude otherwise admissible relevant evidence if its probative value is “substantially outweighed” by the risk of undue prejudice. Court acknowledges criticism of past decisions that have left out the term “substantially,” but finds the proper test has been applied despite the occasional shorthand references. Here, the risks of undue prejudice did not substantially outweigh the high probative value of the 2010 evidence.

            District court erred by ordering lifetime postrelease supervision. Under K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6819, in effect at the time of Satchell’s offenses, the proper post release supervision term is lifetime parole when the district court imposed consecutive on-grid and off-grid sentences. The lifetime postrelease supervision portion of Satchell’s sentence is vacated. 

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-455(d); K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 21-6627, -6819, -6819(b)(2), 22-3717, -3717(d)(1)(G), -3717(u); K.S.A. 60-406, -407(f), -445

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

AGENCY ACTION—MEDICAL EXPENSES
UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS HOSPITAL AUTHORITY V. BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF FRANKLIN COUNTY, KANSAS
WYANDOTTE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
NO. 120,472—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: After seeing a man driving without headlights and with a suspended license, Ottawa police engaged in a high-speed chase. Officers lost track of the vehicle, and by the time they found it, the driver had crashed and the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames. Rescue personnel found the driver on the ground, suffering from severe injuries. Officers did not search the driver, and he was not placed under arrest, although a hold was placed while the man was in the hospital. After his release, the driver was taken to jail based on outstanding warrants that were unrelated to the police chase. After an investigation, the driver was charged with felony fleeing and eluding. The University of Kansas Hospital Authority filed suit against the City of Ottawa and the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners in an attempt to recoup some of the man's considerable medical bills. All parties filed motions for summary judgment. After considering arguments, the district court found that the driver was in the City's custody when medical treatment was initiated. But for the driver's injuries, he would have been arrested when the chase ended. The district court granted summary judgment in the Hospital's favor against the City but found that the County was not involved enough to be responsible for bills. The City appealed and the Hospital cross-appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Whether the driver was in custody; (2) existence of disputed material facts

HELD:  "Custody" has a broad definition. A formal arrest is not always necessary to show that a person is in custody. It is undisputed that County deputies did not witness any crimes being committed and did not participate in the chase. This means it is also undisputed that the driver was not in County custody when medical care was sought, and the County has no obligation to contribute to the driver's medical bills. There are lingering fact questions, though, about whether the driver was in the City's custody. Specifically, there was no stipulation that the driver was stopped by law enforcement, triggering the statutory obligation to take him into custody. Because there is a lingering fact question, summary judgment was not appropriate. The case must be remanded to clear up these issues.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-1568(b), -1568(c), 22-2202(d), -2202(i), -4612, -4612(a)

CONTRACTS—OIL AND GAS
THOROUGHBRED ASSOCIATES V. KANSAS CITY ROYALTY COMPANY
COMANCHE DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, REMANDED
NO. 120,068—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: Beginning in 1997, Thoroughbred acquired oil and gas leases. After it struck a big well, Thoroughbred acquired leases on nearby property to prevent competition. However, there was a 1/3 mineral interest in one of these tracts which remained unleased. In an attempt to acquire that lease, Thoroughbred contacted the owner, Oxy USA Inc., about selling. The parties signed a lease in 1998 which allowed Thoroughbred to unitize the lease. The lease would continue for as long as Thoroughbred produced oil or gas in paying quantities, either from the tract or from the unit as a whole. Oxy had a 3/16 royalty on production from the tract. In 1999, Oxy sold its interest in the lease to KC Royalty. Tensions arose when KC Royalty believed that gas from the unit was being drained into another unit that was not covered by KC Royalty's lease and that KC Royalty believed that Thoroughbred owed it unpaid royalties. After extensive litigation and another appeal which was heard by the Kansas Supreme Court, the parties ended up back in district court. That court ruled in favor of KC Royalty, finding that the parties agreed to unitize the Lease, that KC Royalty had waived certain conditions, and that Thoroughbred was equitably estopped from enforcing the conditions. After ruling that all liquids produced in the unit were incidental byproducts of the gas, the court concluded that KC Royalty's interest included all unit production. Both parties appealed.

ISSUES: (1) Whether the parties included the lease in the unit by modification, waiver, or estoppel; (2) award of interest in oil production arising from gas lease; (3) attorney fees

HELD: Substantial evidence supported the district court's finding that the parties modified their lease to include the parcel in the larger unit. This is proven by both Oxy and KC Royalty accepting royalty payments. KC Royalty had the unilateral power to waive conditions and allow Thoroughbred to include the lease in the larger unit. All evidence shows that KC Royalty intended to modify the agreement. Because Thoroughbred represented that KC Royalty's lease was in the unit for over three years, it is estopped from changing its mind now. A portion of the unit included a parcel which was a separate, oil-producing formation where oil production far exceeded gas production. There was no evidence that the oil and gas in this particular parcel was condensate. The district court improperly included this parcel in its royalty calculations, and the case must be remanded for accurate calculations. The district court did not abuse its discretion by denying KC Royalty's motion for attorney fees.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 55-205, -1617

CLASS ACTIONS—OIL AND GAS
COOPER CLARK FOUNDATION V. OXY USA, INC.
GRANT DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,371—JUNE 26, 2020

FACTS: This appeal involves a class-action lawsuit over natural gas leases. After extracting gas, Oxy sent most of it for processing. Cooper, representing the wells included within the class action, disputes the method Oxy was using to calculate royalties for all Class Leases. The class action petition was filed in 2017, alleging that Oxy underpaid royalties from July 2007 through April 2014. Cooper's specific grievances included Oxy passing through processing fees, improperly calculating volume, using the wrong price structure, and not paying interest on conservation fees. The district court certified Cooper's class, and Oxy appealed that certification.

ISSUE: (1) Whether class was properly certified

HELD: Gas produced from Class wells wasn't marketable until it was in a condition suitable for its intended market. This didn't occur until after it was processed. The district court did not abuse its discretion when it found that the class petition raised questions of law and fact that were common to all class members. All of the claims can be litigated classwide without individualized evidence; this includes a dispute over whether Oxy owes interest for conservation fees that were repaid to class members. There are similarly no individualized issues regarding Oxy's statute of limitations defense. The district court rigorously analyzed the requirements for class certification and correctly concluded that the class was appropriate.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 60-223, -223(a), -223(b); K.S.A. 16-201, 55-1614, -1615

criminal 

appeals—appellate procedure—constitutional law—criminal procedure— damages—insurance—restitution—sentencing
state v. robinson
lyon district court—affirmed
no. 120,903—june 26, 2020

FACTS: Robinson pled no contest to battery of law enforcement officer. Sentencing included requirement that Robinson pay $2,648.56 in restitution to reimburse workers compensation insurance carrier that paid medical expenses of officer injured as a result of the battery. Robinson appealed claiming the statutes authorizing the district court to order restitution violate Section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights by depriving him of right to have a civil jury determine the amount of damages, and violate the Sixth Amendment of U. S. Constitution by allowing a judge to determine the amount of restitution to be awarded the victim. He also claimed district court erred in awarding restitution to be paid to an insurance carrier. State contends the constitutional issues, raised for first time on appeal, were not properly preserved.

ISSUES: (1) Unpreserved claims; (2) restitution—Section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights; (3) restitution—Sixth Amendment of U.S. Constitution; (4) payment to insurance carrier

HELD: The issues not raised below are considered because they potentially implicate a claim to the fundamental right to a trial by jury under the Kansas and United States constitutions, and a decision on the merits would serve the ends of justice.

            Robinson failed to establish that Section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights requires that a jury impose criminal restitution under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6604(b)(1) and K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6607(c)(2). Criminal restitution is not a civil remedy and no provision in the Kansas territorial statutes mentions criminal restitution.

            District court’s restitution order did not violate the Sixth Amendment. Court of Appeals panels have addressed whether Sixth Amendment applies to criminal restitution, and review of one unpublished opinion is currently pending. Under State v. Huff, 50 Kan.App.2d 1094 (2014), rev. denied 302 Kan. 1015 (2015), restitution is not punishment, but even if punishment is assumed, the Kansas statutes do not violate the Sixth Amendment. Huff is consistent with cited  federal and state court opinions, and courts have concluded that Southern Union Co. v. United States, 567 U.S. 343 (2012), does not extend Apprendi and its progeny to restitution. Kansas statutes governing restitution impose neither mandatory minimum amounts nor mandatory maximum amounts, so they do not trigger concerns in Apprendi or Alleyne.

            Neither K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6604(b)(1) nor K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6607(c)(2) prohibit a district court from awarding restitution to an insurance carrier that has suffered damage or injury as a result of the defendant’s crime.

DISSENT (Leben, J.): Would vacate the restitution award because Robinson had a right to have a jury determine the amount of damage or loss he caused any victim of his crime. Text of Sixth Amendment, history, and precedent support a holding that Sixth Amendment applies to restitution. Cases cited by the majority as rejecting the claim that Apprendi applies to restitution are criticized. The two Kansas restitution statutes violate Apprendi by allowing judges to increase the statutory maximum punishment for an offense beyond that authorized by the jury’s verdict or the plea agreement. Even if Robison had no jury-trial right under Sixth Amendment, he had one under Section 5 of Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-5413(c)(3)(D), -6604, -6604(b)(1), -6604(b)(2), -6607(c)(2), -6608(c)(7), -6613(a), -6613(b), 60-238, -2401, -4304(b); K.S.A. 1991 Supp. 21-6607(c)(2); K.S.A. 60-4301

Tags:  Agency Action  Appeals  Appellate Procedure  Class Actions  Constitutional Law  Contracts  Criminal Procedure  Damages  Evidence  Insurance  Lyon  Medical Expenses  Oil and Gas  Public Duty  Restitution  Sentencing  Statutes  Torts 

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