Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s claim against the heirs of the Decedent seeking to enforce a judgment lien against real property owned by the Decedent at his death, holding that Plaintiff’s tort claim, which accrued prior to the date of death, made Plaintiff a creditor of the Decedent and his Estate. Plaintiff filed a tort action against the Decedent, who subsequently died, and judgment was entered for Plaintiff. Plaintiff then filed a judgment lien against the Estate’s property. In a separate action, Bank filed a foreclosure action seeking to enforce its mortgages against the Decedent’s real property. Plaintiff sought to intervene in the foreclosure action. The trial court concluded that Plaintiff failed to state a claim because at the time of death, the Decedent’s real property immediately passed to his heirs at law, subject only to the claims of creditors, and that Plaintiff’s tort claim did not qualify him as a creditor. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff became a creditor of the Decedent when the tort occurred, and the fact that the claim was reduced to judgment and a judgment lien filed postmortem had no impact on Plaintiff’s status as a creditor of the estate. View "Gregory v. Hardgrove" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not err in enforcing Deed of Restrictions for Woodlawn Estates Subdivision Section II by granting judgment in favor of Don Hensley against Keith Gadd and JHT Properties, LLC (collectively, Gadd) on the basis that Gadd was renting private residences in the Subdivision as short-term vacation rentals in contravention of restrictions on commercial use of the property at issue. Hensley filed a complaint against Gadd alleging violations of the restrictions. Gadd filed a counterclaim for harassment. The trial court concluded that Gadd’s short-term rentals constituted a business in violation of the restrictions and dismissed Gadd’s harassment counterclaim. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the restrictions were ambiguous in that they permitted rentals and should be construed in favor of the free use of property. The court, however, affirmed dismissal of Gadd’s counterclaim. The Supreme Court reversed and vacated so much of the court of appeals’ opinion as reversed the trial court’s judgment and otherwise affirmed, holding (1) the restriction limited commercial uses and required the lots to be used for single-family residential purposes, and (2) Gadd’s use of the property violated the Deed of Restrictions. View "Hensley v. Gadd" on Justia Law

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In this eminent domain action challenging the just compensation paid for property to be taken, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the court of appeals dismissing this appeal for failure to name an indispensable party, holding that Riley v. Department of Highways, 375 S.W.2d 245 (Ky. 1963), remains sound and applicable to the circumstances before the Court in this case. The court of appeals dismissed this appeal because the notice of appeal failed to include the name of Edward Gravell, the husband of one of Appellants, a tenant-in-common owning the property. The court of appeals reasoned that Edward’s interest, an inchoate right, would be affected by the appellate court’s decision, and thus, he was an indispensable party. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals’s decision was contrary to applicable precedent in Riley; and (2) Edward was not an indispensable party at this stage of the proceeding. View "Hagan v. Commonwealth, Transportation Cabinet" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeal reversing the circuit court’s interlocutory judgment concluding that Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) properly exercised its power of eminent domain in the taking of a permanent easement on Appellee’s land for the public purpose of constructing a storm water culvert and drainage system, holding that the circuit court’s finding was not clearly erroneous. Specifically, the Court held that the court of appeals (1) failed to give appropriate deference to the circuit court’s finding that LFUCG acted in good faith; (2) improperly extended the holding in Sprint Communications v. Leggett, 307 S.W.3d 109 (Ky. 2010); and (3) failed to follow controlling precedent by requiring that local governments condemn property in fee simple when a lesser interest would be equally effective. View "Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government v. Moore" on Justia Law

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In this dispute between neighboring landowners over the location of the boundary line between their adjoining properties the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals reversing the circuit court’s judgment in favor of Appellants, holding that the Court of Appeals exceeded its scope of review by reversing the trial court. The location of the boundary line in this case determined which of the parties was entitled to $440,000 of coal royalties from mining that occurred in the disputed area between the properties. The circuit court ruled in favor of Appellants. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for entry of a judgment in favor of Appellees and the mining company. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court did not err in determining the boundary line in the manner that it did, that substantial evidence supported the trial court’s findings, and that the Court of Appeals erred by improperly substituting its own judgment for that of the trial court. View "C.W. Hoskins Heirs v. Wells" on Justia Law

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Stigma damages are a measure of damages stemming from actual injury to property, but if remediation damages are settled and a claim on the stigma damages resulting from the actual damages is reserved, the injured party may be awarded stigma damages regardless of the partial settlement on remediation. Plaintiffs’ property was damaged from oil contamination. In a federal action, the parties entered into a partial settlement that allocated $60,000 to Plaintiffs for repair costs, intended to remedy actual damages to their property. Plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all claims against Defendants except for a reserved claims asserting the diminution of the value of their real estate due to the stigma resulting from the contamination. Plaintiffs then filed this state claim alleging negligence, trespass, and permanent nuisance. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the partial settlement barred the state action because Plaintiffs were fully compensated for the actual damages the contamination caused to their property. The circuit court dismissed the stigma damages claim, holding that Plaintiffs could not seek both the costs of remediation and the diminution in value due to stigma damages. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs’ claim for damages resulting from the stigma of the contamination may be recovered in addition to the settled repair costs. View "Muncie v. Wiesemann" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court’s entry of a declaratory judgment in favor of Big Sandy Company, LP, interpreting a pipeline easement agreement (the Agreement) in Big Sandy’s favor. In 2003, Big Sandy entered into the Agreement with Kentucky West Virginia Gas Company, LLC (KWVA), the predecessor in interest of EQT Gathering, LLC and EQT Production Company (collectively, EQT). EQT filed suit against Big Sandy requesting declaratory relief regarding the interpretation and scope of the Agreement. The trial court concluded that Big Sandy’s interpretation prevailed. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Big Sandy’s interpretation would be absurd and render much of the Agreement meaningless. The Supreme court reversed, holding that the trial court properly interpreted the Agreement. View "Big Sandy Co., L.P. v. EQT Gathering, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court’s entry of a declaratory judgment in favor of Big Sandy Company, LP, interpreting a pipeline easement agreement (the Agreement) in Big Sandy’s favor. In 2003, Big Sandy entered into the Agreement with Kentucky West Virginia Gas Company, LLC (KWVA), the predecessor in interest of EQT Gathering, LLC and EQT Production Company (collectively, EQT). EQT filed suit against Big Sandy requesting declaratory relief regarding the interpretation and scope of the Agreement. The trial court concluded that Big Sandy’s interpretation prevailed. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Big Sandy’s interpretation would be absurd and render much of the Agreement meaningless. The Supreme court reversed, holding that the trial court properly interpreted the Agreement. View "Big Sandy Co., L.P. v. EQT Gathering, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court in this case filed by Plaintiff requesting that Smokey Hollow Road in Bath County be recognized as a county road, public passway, or easement. The trial court ruled that Smokey Hollow Road was a county road and a public passway and that Plaintiff had acquired an easement by prescription. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part and reinstated the order of the trial court, holding (1) the passway at issue is not a county road as a matter of law; (2) the trial court’s finding of facts were insufficient to establish an implied dedication of this portion of Smokey Hollow Road to create a public road; and (3) Plaintiff had a prescriptive easement, and it had not been abandoned. View "Ellington v. Becraft" on Justia Law

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The court of appeals did not err in reversing the circuit court’s judgment that Anne Talley and Daniel Paisley were to share equally in the proceeds of sale of their jointly owned real property based on their respective ownership percentages and irrespective of Paisley’s discharge of mortgage liens encumbering the property. After Paisley and Talley sold their jointly owned residence, Paisley proposed that the proceeds be divided based on the parties’ proportionate contribution and to reflect that he had contributed more to the residence. The trial court ordered the equity in the residence to be divided equally between the parties. The court of appeals reversed, holding that, as a matter of law, Paisley was entitled to be proportionately reimbursed by Talley for payments he made during their joint tenancy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under Kentucky law, joint tenants are entitled to proportionate reimbursement for the payment of liens and other encumbrances on the property. View "Talley v. Paisley" on Justia Law