Click here for the August 2013 topical summaries of published decisions from the Supreme Court of Kentucky (SCOKY) which contains topical case summaries and attorney disciplinary decisions for this month.
Click here for list of all summaries for SCOKY by year and month at AOC.
Tort, insurance and civil cases:
Mildred Abbott, et al. v. Stanley M. Chesley, et al.
August 29, 2013
Opinion of the Court by Justice Venters. Minton, C.J., Abramson, Keller, Noble and Scott, JJ., concur. Cunningham, J., not sitting.
Questions presented: 1) Whether Appellants were entitled to a partial summary judgment against three attorneys responsible for representing them in an underlying litigation for violating their fiduciary duties; 2) Whether the Court of Appeals properly declined to review the circuit court’s denial of summary judgment against another attorney that represented Appellants in the underlying litigation; 3) Whether joint and several liability could be imposed on the three attorneys adjudged liable for damages; 4) Whether the Court of Appeals erred by failing to transfer the case from the Boone Circuit Court to the Fayette Circuit Court; and 5) Whether the trial court erred by deducting undocumented expenses from Appellants’ monetary judgment.
Held: 1) The trial court correctly granted partial summary judgment against three of the attorneys that represented Appellants in the underlying litigation because they violated their fiduciary duties to Appellants by collectively withholding attorneys’ fees from Appellants’ settlement in excess of the agreed to percentage provided for in their contingency fee agreements; 2) The Court of Appeals did not err in declining to review the denial of summary judgment against the attorney that secured the settlement for Appellants in the underlying litigation because a denial of a motion for summary judgment is interlocutory and not appealable; 3) The three attorneys adjudged liable for monetary damages may be held jointly and severally liable because they were engaged in a joint enterprise; 4) The Boone Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion by denying Appellants’ motion for transfer to the Fayette Circuit Court because after the case was transferred from Fayette Circuit Court to the Boone Circuit Court, the “receiving” judge, pursuant to KRS 452.090, retained adjudicative authority over the case; 5) The deduction of the undocumented expenses from Appellants’ monetary judgment was not ripe for summary judgment because questions of fact remain and therefore the trial court improperly included them in the partial summary judgment against the three attorneys adjudged liable for breaching their fiduciary duties.