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October 14, 2016, Appellate Court Digests
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Kansas Court of Appeals – Civil

Contracts–Employment–Summary Judgment
Simpson v. City of Topeka
Shawnee District Court – Affirmed
No. 114,484 – October 14, 2016

FACTS: The Plaintiffs were all employees of the City of Topeka's parks and recreation department. In 2011, the City of Topeka and Shawnee County decided to consolidate their parks and recreation departments. The City and County negotiated three contracts before the consolidation, one of which covered employees. Under the terms of the contract, City employees could automatically become County employees without losing wages or salary or being dismissed from employment for 6 months. But the employees would no longer be covered under City of Topeka employment codes which applied to non-disciplinary staff reductions and included benefits such as severance pay. After transferring employment to the county, the Plaintiffs filed suit seeking lost severance pay under several theories of recovery. The district court granted summary judgment to the City on a negligent misrepresentation claim. Two other claims – one for breach of contract and one under the Kansas Wage Payment Act (KWPA) continued to a bench trial. The district court concluded that the Plaintiffs were not entitled to severance pay, and this appeal followed.

ISSUE: Did the employment contracts require the City to pay severance pay

HELD: The consolidation contracts that were executed by the City and County did not amend the City's personnel code. Because their positions were not terminated, but were rather transferred, the Plaintiffs did not suffer a job loss as defined by the personnel code and were thus not entitled to severance pay.

CONCURRENCE (Atcheson, J.): The plain language of the personnel code allowed the Plaintiffs to receive severance pay. But when switching employment from City to County, the Plaintiffs elected to trade off severance pay for other benefits. After making this election, the Plaintiffs are not entitled to severance pay.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 44-315

Kansas Court of Appeals – Criminal

Juvenile justice–Sentencing
State v. Medina
Wyandotte District Court – Vacated in part, remanded with directions
No. 114,523 – October 14, 2016

FACTS: Medina was convicted of aggravated criminal sodomy while he was under the age of 18. Part of his sentence included a lifetime term of postrelease supervision. Medina appealed.

ISSUE: Whether the U.S. Constitution allows a juvenile to receive lifetime postrelease regardless of the crime of conviction

HELD: Although the defendant in State v. Dull was convicted of aggravated indecent liberties, the same constitutional analysis applies to Medina's argument. The language of Dull indicates there is a categorical prohibition on lifetime postrelease sentences for all juveniles convicted of a sex offense.

STATUTE: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 22-3717(d)(1)(G), -3717(5)(E)