TORTS: SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY for Metro Gov’t, statutory waiver KRS 441.054(3) — JEWISH HOSP HEALTHCARE SVCS V. LOUISVILLE/JEFFERSON METRO GOV’T (COA 11/14/2008)

JEWISH HOSPITAL HEALTHCARE SERVICES, INC. V.
LOUISVILLE/JEFFERSON METRO GOV'T
TORTS:  SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY for Metro Gov't, statutory waiver KRS 441.054(3)
2008-CA-000095
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING IN PART, VACATING AND REMANDING IN PART
PANEL:  LAMBET JAMES PRESIDING; HENRY, NICKELL CONCUR
JEFFERSON CIR. CT.
DATE RENDERED: 11/14/2008

At issue in this case is whether KRS 441.045(3) waives Louisville Metro’s immunity. The statute provides in pertinent part that “the cost of providing necessary medical, dental, and psychological care for indigent prisoners in the jail shall be paid from the jail budget.” 

Louisville Metro entered into a contract with University Hospital for the treatment and medical care of inmates of Metro Corrections. Some of Louisville Metro’s inmates were diverted to Jewish Hospital under a diversion plan put into place by Louisville-area hospitals. Jewish sued for reimbursement for its care of indigent prisoners diverted to its care. Louisville Metro defended on grounds that sovereign immunity barred Jewish’s claim.

The Court of Appeals agreed, without much analysis of the argument. Of note in the opinion, at least to me, is that in finding Louisville Metro was entitled to sovereign immunity, the Court relied on Cullinan v. Jefferson County, 418 S.W.2d 407, 408 (Ky. 1967). Cullinan holds that Kentucky counties are entitled to sovereign immunity. Louisville Metro is not a county, though it should still be entitled to sovereign immunity. Also of note is that the Court used the test for waiver for sovereign immunity set forth in Withers v. University of Kentucky, 939 S.W.2d 340 (Ky. 1997), which construed changes to the Board of Claims Act several years before the creation of Louisville Metro as a local consolidated government. 

By Hays Lawson 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are inappropriate, offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.