October 2013 Monthly Case Summary of Published Decisions for the Kentucky Supreme Court

Old Fayette County Court House - Lexington, Kentucky Photo Taken by Michael Stevens

Old Fayette County Court House – Lexington, Kentucky
Photo Taken by Michael Stevens

Click here for the October 2013 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:

LEGAL MALPRACTICE:

Barbara A. Abel, et al. v. J. Brent Austin, et al. 

2010-SC-000426-DG October 24, 2013

Opinion of the Court by Justice Venters. All sitting. Minton, C.J.; Abramson, Cunningham and Keller, JJ., concur. Scott, J., dissents by separate opinion in which Noble, J., joins. Civil Action, Legal Malpractice, Statute of Limitations. Appellants were 49 of the plaintiffs participating in mass tort litigation brought in Kentucky against the manufacturer of the popular diet drug known as “fen-phen.” Ultimately, their claims were transferred to similar litigation pending in an Alabama court, where they were settled. Five years later, after discovering that they had not received the full compensation for which their claims were settled, Appellants brought suit alleging legal malpractice was committed by the lawyers in Alabama and Kentucky that settled their claims and distributed the settlement proceeds. The defendants asserted that Appellants’ action was barred by

Alabama’s statute of repose on legal malpractice claims, which was applicable in the Kentucky lawsuit by virtue of Kentucky’s borrowing statute, KRS 413.320. Appellants asserted that Kentucky’s more lenient statute of limitations on professional negligence claims, KRS 413.245, applied. Held: Because Appellant’s claims accrued in Kentucky where the settlement funds were distributed, rather than Alabama where the litigation was settled, the borrowing statute did not permit the application of Alabama law. Kentucky’s statute of limitations applied. Nevertheless, Appellants’ claims were barred because the evidence unequivocally established that for more than a year before filing suit, Appellants knew or should have known that they had a claim against their lawyers.

 

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