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September 16, 2016, Appellate Court Digests
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Kansas Supreme Court – Civil

Employment; Retaliatory discharge; Workers compensation
Platt v. Kansas State University
Riley District District Court – Reversed
Court of Appeals – Affirmed
No. 110,179 – September 16, 2016

FACTS: Platt was employed by the University and placed on a 6-month probation. Soon after her job started, Platt began experiencing health problems that she believed were caused by poor air quality in her workspace. After complaining, Platt learned that her predecessor also experienced health issues caused by poor air quality. An investigation determined that there were issues with the ventilation system. Platt asked the University to fix the system, and she met with a professional to work on that. Her employment was terminated that same day. The University claimed Platt was terminated for excessive absences. Platt sued the University, arguing that her termination was wrongful and in retaliation for her potential workers compensation claims. The University filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the district court did not have jurisdiction because Platt's claims were governed by the Kansas Judicial Review Act (KJRA), and Platt had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. The district court agreed with the University and dismissed Platt's claim. A panel of the Court of Appeals reversed, noting that Platt was not seeking a review of administrative procedure but was instead seeking compensation for a tort. In addition, as a probationary employee, Platt was not entitled to avail herself of the University's administrative hearing procedure, meaning there were no administrative remedies to exhaust. The University petitioned for review.

ISSUE: Is a retaliatory discharge claim governed by the KJRA

HELD: Platt never sought the reinstatement of her employment. Her requested damages were monetary in nature. Platt established a prima facie claim for retaliatory discharge. The KJRA does not apply to civil tort actions against an administrative agency. For this reason, the district court's dismissal of her tort action was erroneous.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 77-612; K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 77-612; K.S.A. 2009 Supp. 77-612(d); K.S.A. 60-3703, 77-602(b), -602(b)(3)

Kansas Court of Appeals – Civil

Decedents Estates; Real Property
Nickelson v. Bell
Graham District District Court – Affirmed
No. 114,507 – September 16, 2016

FACTS: The Nickelsons own the surface rights and part of the mineral rights to land in Graham County. In November 2014, they filed a quiet title action alleging that the mineral interests that were owned by others had lapsed from disuse. In accordance with the applicable statute, the Nickelsons published notice in a local paper naming roughly 20 people who they believed had a claim to the mineral rights. After the notice ran, many people filed claims to the lapsing mineral interests. The Nickelsons asked the district court to determine what ownership interests were held by these individuals. And several of the potential interest-holders filed answers to the quiet title suit (collectively, the Defendants). The Nickelsons filed a motion for summary judgment against these defendants, claiming that absent a judicial decree of descent or probate proceeding there was no proof that they had any ownership interest in the mineral rights. The district court denied the motion for summary judgment and then determined that all of the Defendants claims were valid.

ISSUE: Whether an individual who inherits a mineral interest through intestate succession may file a claim under the Kansas mineral lapse statute

HELD: A mineral interest is an interest in real property. In cases of intestate succession, property passes immediately from the decedent to the person entitled to receive it. Accordingly, in this case, there was no need to obtain a judicial decree to memorialize the mineral ownership rights. Any Defendants who gained property rights via intestate succession now constitute owners capable of filing a valid claim to prevent their interests from lapse.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 55-1602, -1604, -1604(a), -1604(b), 59-2250, -2251

Kansas Court of Appeals – Criminal

Appeals; Criminal Procedure; Sentences
State v. Storer
Sedgwick District District Court – Reversed and remanded
No. 114,246 – September 16, 2016

FACTS: Pursuant to plea agreement, Storer convicted in 2009 of aggravated robbery and marijuana possession. District court imposed sentence with (undetermined) credit for time served. After probation was revoked, Storer began underlying prison term. Stating he was never given credit for time served in jail before and after sentencing, and for time spent in residential-treatment program, he filed motion under K.S.A. 22-3504(2) to correct clerical mistake or error arising from oversight or omission. District court dismissed the motion for lack of jurisdiction. Storer appealed. State argued there was no appellate jurisdiction because Storer did not file appeal within statutory days allowed for appealing the 2009 sentencing order.

ISSUE: Appeal from motion to correct sentence

HELD: Unpublished decision in State v. Mitchell, 2015 WL 5927041 (Kan.App 2015), is followed, with two supporting Kansas Supreme Court cases identified. Where jail-time credit against a criminal sentence has been awarded in sentencing order but has not been subject of contested proceedings or product of judicial deliberation, the amount of jail-time credit awarded can be challenged at a later date under K.S.A. 22-3504(2) to correct clerical mistake or error arising from oversight or omission. District court’s judgment is reversed. Case is remanded for further hearings because record is insufficient to show whether Storer is entitled to any or all jail credit being claimed.

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 22-3608(c); K.S.A. 22-3504(2), -3608(c)