Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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In an effort to replace its aging middle school building, the Paducah Independent School District initiated condemnation proceedings against real property owned by Defendant. The property was officially taken after an award of $96,000 to Defendant, but both sides were dissatisfied. After a bench trial, Defendant was awarded $115,000 in compensation damages. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court relied on outdated and otherwise incompetent evidence of the property’s fair market value. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and reinstated the trial court’s judgment, holding that the trial court’s approach was both legally sound and properly grounded in the record. View "Paducah Independent School District v. Putnam & Sons, LLC" on Justia Law

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Developer intended to develop real property into single-family residential lots and secured financing through Bank. Insurer provided a surety bond to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Insurer executed three Bond Agreements as surety for Developer. Developer later defaulted in its loan. In lieu of foreclosure, Developer deed the property to Bank’s property management company. Bank transferred the property to another internal holding company. The Commission subsequently complied with Bank’s request for the Commission to call Developer’s bonds and place the proceeds in escrow for the purpose of reimbursing Bank for completion of the necessary infrastructure projects required by Developer’s approved plat. Developer filed a declaratory judgment action alleging that the bonds were not callable and that payment on the bonds would result in Bank receiving an unjust enrichment. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Developer was liable under the bond; and (2) Developer’s claims of error during discovery were unavailing. View "Furlong Development Co. v. Georgetown-Scott County Planning & Zoning Commission" on Justia Law

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The parties in this case, neighboring landowners, disputed the ownership of Church Lane, an old road or passway in Gallatin County. Appellee argued that the road was owned by the County or, alternatively, was a public road. Appellants contended that the road was their private property. The circuit court determined that Church Lane was a private road. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that Church Lane was a public road. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court correctly determined that Church Lane had been discontinued as a public road, and the eastern portion of the road reverted back to Appellants as a private road. View "Kentucky Props. Holding LLC v. Sproul" on Justia Law

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On February 10, 2014, Landlord Bobby Turner provided his tenant, Lesley Shinkle, with written notice to vacate the premises. Eight days later, Turner filed a forcible detainer complaint against Shinkle. When the matter came before the district court on February 27, 2014, for the "inquisition" required by KRS 383.220, Shinkle moved to dismiss the complaint because Turner had failed to provide the one month's notice required by KRS 383.195 for terminating the tenancy. In recognition of the statutory deficiency, the district court deferred its consideration of Shinkle's motion and continued the inquisition until March 13, thus allowing one month to elapse from the date Shinkle first received the written notice to vacate. In the interim, Shinkle filed a formal written motion to dismiss arguing that Turner had no statutory right to commence a forcible detainer action prior to the expiration of the one-month statutory notice provision. At the March 13 inquisition, the district court denied Shinkle's motion to dismiss, reasoning that the one month statutory notice period had by then been satisfied. The court entered its verdict and judgment finding Shinkle guilty of forcible detainer. Shinkle appealed and the Circuit Court affirmed. The Court of Appeals denied Shinkle's motion for discretionary review. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that by filing his forcible detainer complaint only eight days after giving Shinkle notice to vacate, Turner was claiming a right to immediate possession that he did not lawfully have. The statutory elements of a forcible detainer were not yet met since Turner had, at that time, no presently enforceable right of possession. "As required by KRS 383.195, a landlord must give the tenant at least one month's written notice to vacate, and until that period expires, no forcible detainer is being committed." The complaint filed prior to the existence of the cause of action should have been dismissed pursuant to the motion properly raising the issue. View "Shinkle v. Turner" on Justia Law

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Scotty Hedgespeth and Linda Cundiff (together, Hedgespeth) filed suit against the Taylor County Fiscal Court alleging ownership of land where a new bridge would be constructed and requesting that the trial court issue a temporary injunction to prevent the construction of the new bridge. The trial court denied the request. Thereafter, Hedgespeth requested that the Court of Appeals grant him interlocutory relief from the order pursuant to Ky. R. Civ. P. 65.07. The Court of Appeals denied the motion. Hedgespeth subsequently requested that the Supreme Court grant him interlocutory relief from the Court of Appeals’ decision pursuant to Rule 65.09. The Supreme Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for interlocutory relief, holding that Plaintiff failed to show “extraordinary cause.” View "Hedgespeth v. Taylor County Fiscal Court" on Justia Law

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Defendant owned land that was adjoined by Plaintiff’s property. In the course of cutting timber for Defendant, a logger trespassed on Plaintiff’s property and cut and sold a substantial amount of timber on her property. Plaintiff sued for trespass, seeking damages for the missing timber and the damage to the land. The trial court awarded stumpage value and damages but did not award treble damages based on its finding that Defendant had no intent to remove timber from Plaintiff’s property. The court of appeals (1) vacated the circuit court’s ruling on treble damages and remanded for additional findings and further proceedings, and (2) affirmed on Defendant’s cross-appeal. The Supreme Court (1) upheld the court of appeals in its affirming the trial court in the determination that Defendant was liable for damages for trespass; but (2) reversed the court of appeals in determining that Defendant was subject to treble damages, as there was insufficient evidence to prove that Defendant intended to convert Plaintiff’s timber for his own use. View "Penix v. Delong" on Justia Law

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Ann Shannon was the sole member of a limited liability company (LLC). In 2004, Shannon signed a lease for commercial space with the property’s owner, Rick Pannell, on behalf of the LLC. In 2005, the LLC was administratively dissolved. In 2006, Shannon and Pannell entered into a release of the old lease and a new lease. The new lease expressly stated that the LLC was the tenant and was signed by Shannon but did not mention Shannon’s company capacity in any direct way. Pannell subsequently sued for breach of the lease, naming the LLC and Shannon individually. Shortly after, the LLC was reinstated. The circuit court concluded that Shannon was entitled to immunity from personal liability and awarded Pannell damages against the LLC under the lease. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) based on the facts of this case, Shannon did not directly obligate herself because she clearly signed the lease in her representative capacity and the lease was expressly with the company; and (2) Shannon could not be personally liable under Kentucky’s Limited Liability Company Act or under the theory that she exceeded her authority as an agent of the LLC during the dissolution. View "Pannell v. Shannon" on Justia Law

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The City of Lebanon sought to annex several hundred acres of nearby property. The owners of the property subject to the annexation, including Appellees, filed a lawsuit against the City to invalidate the annexation ordinance. The trial court granted Appellees’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that the City, by intentionally manipulating the annexation boundaries to guarantee a successful annexation, violated Appellees’ constitutional rights. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the boundaries of territory to be annexed must be “natural or regular” and that the boundaries of the proposed annexation in this case did not meet this standard. The Supreme Court reversed and declared the annexation valid, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in applying a “natural or regular” standard; and (2) the City’s annexation fully complied the the statutory requirements and did not violate Appellees’ constitutional rights. View "City of Lebanon v. Goodin" on Justia Law

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The Brattons brought an action against CitiFinancial, Inc. (Citi) alleging that Citi erroneously placed a mortgage on their property and did not release the mortgage after it was notified of the error. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Brattons and awarded damages pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 382.365. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the Brattons failed to comply with the requirements of section 382.365(4) because they did not give notice by certified mail. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding that section 382.365 simply did not apply to the situation in this case. View "Bratton v. CitiFinancial, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case involved a dispute between a condominium association (the Council) and one of its co-owners (Ballard) regarding the need to replace and who should bear the cost of replacement of a two-story wall of windows in Ballard's condominium. Ballard filed suit against the Council seeking damages for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims. The Council, meanwhile, replaced the wall of windows and filed a lien statement and lis pendens to serve as notice that it was asserting a lien against Ballard's condominium. The Council counterclaimed. Ballard amended her complaint to assert, inter alia, a slander of title claim. After a jury trial, the trial court awarded judgment to Ballard and ordered the Council to release its lis pendens notice and statement of lien from Ballard's condominium. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Ballard's slander of title claim was properly submitted to the jury; and (2) the court of appeals correctly determined that the Council did not have a fiduciary duty to Ballard, and therefore, the fiduciary claim should have been dismissed rather than a new trial ordered. Remanded. View "Ballard v. 1400 Willow Council of Co-Owners, Inc." on Justia Law