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November 15, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 18, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

Civil

DUTY OF AN EMPLOYER
REARDON V. KING
LEAVENWORTH DISTRICT COURT—COURT OF APPEALS IS REVERSED,
DISTRICT COURT IS REVERSED, CASE REMANDED
NO. 114,937—NOVEMBER 15, 2019

FACTS: King, who was a licensed attorney, was employed by Trust Company of Kansas. TCK had a policy prohibiting employees from practicing law during employment. Despite that policy, and without TCK's knowledge, King represented Marilyn Parsons, a TCK client, during his tenure with TCK. Once TCK learned of this work, TCK filed a complaint of suspected elder abuse and a disciplinary complaint. An investigation revealed that Parsons had paid King over $250,000 in fees during his TCK employment. King voluntarily surrendered his law license and Parsons filed suit against both King and TCK. A jury found TCK liable for "negligent training" and King liable for breach of fiduciary duty. TCK appealed and the court of appeals reversed, finding the evidence insufficient. The Supreme Court granted review.

ISSUE: (1) Adequacy of jury instructions

HELD: A crucial instruction must be the district court's articulation of the duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff. Kansas law imparts a duty to employers whose employees injure a third party. The employer owes a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances to prevent harm by employees acting within the scope of their employment. Determining whether that duty has been breached is a fact question for the jury. It was clearly erroneous to instruct the jury that TCK had definable duties to "train" and "supervise" its employees. Because the duty was misstated, both the jury instructions and verdict form were erroneous and the case must be reversed.

STATUTES: No statutes cited.

 

HABEAS CORPUS
JAMERSON V. SCHNURR
RENO DISTRICT COURT – REVERSED AND REMANDED
NO. 120,233 – NOVEMBER 15, 2019

FACTS: Jamerson is in custody after a 2001 felony conviction. In 2016, Jamerson was resentenced after the district court recalculated his criminal history score. During the recalculation, the Kansas Department of Corrections withheld good time credits. This prompted Jamerson to file a K.S.A. 60-1501 petition challenging that good time credit decision. The district court summarily denied this petition, finding that Jamerson failed to prove error. Jamerson filed a posttrial motion in which he alleged that KDOC deprived him of dur process by failing to hold a hearing before depriving him of good time credits. Apparently in response, the district court held a hearing and amended Jamerson's good time credit award. Jamerson appealed the decision to the Secretary of Corrections. Jamerson's motion was still pending, though, and the district court considered the matter and denied it as unripe. That decision was affirmed by the court of appeals. In August 2017, Jamerson filed a second K.S.A. 60-1501 petition challenging KDOC's August 2016 good time credit calculation. This 2017 petition was dismissed as untimely and Jamerson appealed.

ISSUE: (1) Timeliness of petition

HELD: The district court's finding that Jamerson failed to exhaust administrative remedies is not supported by substantial evidence. Jamerson's grievance procedure remained pending until Jamerson received actual notice of the KDOC's final administrative decision. The evidence in the record on appeal shows that Jamerson timely filed his K.S.A. 60-1501 petition within 30 days of receiving notice of the final administrative decision, and the district court erred by summarily denying the petition.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 60-1501(b); K.S.A. 75-52,138, 60-1501

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

 

criminal

constitutional law—criminal law—fourth amendment—evidence—motions
state v. ellis
lyon district court—reversed and remanded
no. 120,046—november 15, 2019

FACTS: Welfare check requested regarding woman (Ellis) who had been in a convenience store bathroom for a long time. Ellis reported she had been dealing with stomach problems, and complied with officer’s instruction to come out of stall and to hand over driver’s license for identification purposes. Officer found no medical assistance was needed, but held Ellis’ license to run a background check which resulted in her arrest on outstanding warrant. Officers then searched Ellis’ purse, finding methamphetamine and paraphernalia. Ellis was arrested and convicted on drug charges. District court denied motion to suppress, finding Ellis had voluntarily handed over license, and even if officer’s conduct was illegal, discovery of the outstanding warrant independently justified the arrest under Utah v. Strieff, 579 U.S. __ (2016).  Ellis appealed, arguing the officer exceeded the scope of the welfare check by retaining her license and checking for warrants after concluding she did not need assistance.

ISSUE: Fourth Amendment—welfare check

HELD: Officer’s actions exceeded the scope of the authorized welfare check - the only constitutionally authorized encounter in this case. Ellis voluntarily providing identification did not relieve law enforcement of constitutional necessity of a reasonable and articulable suspicion before an investigation is permitted. Strieff is factually distinguished. No showing the attenuation doctrine applies in this case, and totality of circumstances warrant excluding evidence gained as a result of officer’s unlawful detention of Ellis.   

STATUTES: None

 

 

Tags:  Constitutional Law  Criminal Law  Duty of an Employer  Evidence  Fourth Amendment  Habeas Corpus  Leavenworth District Court  Lyon District Court  Motions  Reno District Court 

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September 20, 2019 Digests

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Kansas Supreme Court

 

criminal 

constitutional law—criminal law—criminal procedure—evidence—jury instructions—restitution—verdicts
state v. gentry
saline district court—convictions affirmed, restitution vacated in part
No. 116,371—september 20, 2019

FACTS: Palacio fired a gun that killed a passenger in a passing truck. Gentry was charged with aiding or abetting by planning and fueling the encounter and directing Palacio to shoot. Jury convicted Gentry of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle, and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. Sentencing court ordered restitution that included $3642.05 for State’s trial preparation and witness expenses. On appeal, Gentry claimed district court erred by: (1) not instructing jury on unintentional but reckless second-degree murder, reckless involuntary manslaughter, and voluntary manslaughter as lesser included offenses of first-degree murder;  (2) not instructing jury on attempted unintentional but reckless second-degree murder, attempted reckless voluntary manslaughter, and attempted voluntary manslaughter as lesser included offenses of attempted first-degree murder; (3) instructional error that denied Gentry his constitutional right to a fair trial; (4) denying Gentry’s motion for continuance for additional time to secure the firearms expert in Palacio’s trial; and (5) ordering Gentry to pay $3642.05 in restitution to Saline County Attorney’s office for expenses related to witnesses and preparation of photographic trial exhibits.

ISSUES: (1) Lesser included offenses—first-degree murder, (2) lesser included offenses—attempted first-degree murder, (3) constitutional right to fair trial, (4) continuance, (5) restitution

HELD: Gentry’s requested instruction on voluntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense of first-degree murder would have been legally appropriate, but not factually appropriate where Gentry’s deliberate actions were not the actions of a person who had lost control, and an aider or abettor cannot be guilty of a crime if the primary actor did not have the requisite mental state of the crime. Because evidence would reasonably justify a jury finding that Gentry acted without an intent to kill but with knowledge that Palacio would engage in conduct dangerous to life when he gave assistance or encouraged Palacio in committing homicide, instructions on lesser included offenses of unintentional but reckless second-degree murder and reckless involuntary manslaughter would have been both legally and factually appropriate. District court erred in declining to give these requested instructions, but the error was harmless. Application of skip rule is discussed regarding situation in this case where jury split its guilty verdict between premeditated first-degree murder and first-degree felony murder.

            As held in State v. Shannon, 258 Kan. 425 (1995), and State v. Louis, 305 Kan. 453 (2016), attempted unintentional but reckless second-degree murder and attempted reckless involuntary manslaughter are not recognized offenses in Kanas, and thus would have been legally inappropriate instructions. An instruction on attempted voluntary manslaughter would have been legally appropriate, but not factually appropriate where  evidence did not support a finding that Gentry acted in the heat of passion, and Gentry failed to explain how facts in the case might support finding that Palacio acted in the heat of passion.

            Constitutional claim raised for first time on appeal is not reviewed.

            No abuse of district court’s discretion in denying motion for continuance.

            District court could have taxed Gentry for the photocopying and witness expenses as court costs, but instead specifically ordered reimbursement of these expenses as restitution. This was a legal error and an abuse of discretion. That portion of restitution order is vacated.    

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5109, -5202(c), -5210(a), -5301, -5403(a)(2), -5404, -5405(a)(1), -6604, -6604(b)(1), 22-3414, 28-172a, -172a(d); K.S.A. 22-3801, -3801(a), 60-455

 

Kansas Court of Appeals

Civil

CONSTRUCTION—CONTRACTS
WHEATLAND CONTRACTING V. JACO GENERAL CONTRACTOR
JOHNSON DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 120,401—SEPTEMBER 20, 2019

FACTS: Wheatland and Jaco contracted for Wheatland to perform plumbing and associated work on a commercial building in Johnson County. The contract contained a forum selection clause which stipulated that to the "extent permitted by law", venue would be in Sedgwick County. The relationship between the parties soured, and Wheatland sued Jaco in Johnson County District Court claiming breach of contract and other violations of the Kansas Fairness in Private Construction Contract Act. Jaco filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer venue to Sedgwick County under the terms of the contract. The district court denied that motion, citing K.S.A. 16-1806 which requires that actions under the KFPCCA must be filed in the county where the project is located. The Kansas Court of Appeals granted Jaco's application for interlocutory review.

ISSUE: (1) Venue

HELD: The plain language of the KFPCCA does not allow parties to avoid rights or duties of the act through contractual terms. The clear language of K.S.A. 16-806 requires that venue for a lawsuit must be in the county where the real property is located. Venue selection is a "right or duty" under a contract, meaning the venue selection provision in the construction contract is unenforceable.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 16-1801, -1801(b), -1803, -1804, -1805, -1806

Tags:  constitutional law  construction  contracts  criminal law  Johnson District Court  Saline District Court 

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