Tice v. CB Homes, LLC

Mike Kirkham and Mike Hobbs recently prevailed on a Motion to Dismiss on a dog bite case in Crawford County, Kansas. Our firm represented a landlord/landowner who allegedly allowed its tenants to keep an allegedly dangerous dog on it property. The dog bit a minor Plaintiff, causing serious injuries.  Plaintiff asserted negligence claims against the landlord alleging that it was responsible for the conduct of its tenant’s dog. Plaintiff also claimed that, before the bite occurred, the dog escaped the property through a fence that was negligently maintained by the landowner. After extensive briefing and oral arguments, the Court agreed with our defense position that Kansas landlords cannot be held liable for the conduct of their tenant’s animals, and dismissed all claims against our clients. The Court further found that the dog could not be considered a dangerous condition to support a premises liability claim.  This was a fantastic result for our client!

Motion for Summary Judgment Win

Brad Russell and Dustin Dvorak recently obtained summary judgment in a wrongful death case pending in Douglas County, Kansas. The case involved the Kansas Automobile Injury Reparations Act and whether it permits the spouse of a deceased motorist to recover Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits provided under the tortfeasor’s auto insurance policy. The Plaintiff’s spouse was killed in an auto accident while operating a motorcycle for which he voluntarily declined PIP coverage. The Court found in favor of Sanders Warren & Russell’s client and held that Plaintiff was not entitled to the tortfeasor’s PIP benefits because she was neither involved in, nor physically injured, by the accident. The Court further ruled that even if Plaintiff’s spouse had survived, he would not have been entitled to recover the subject PIP benefits because, although he declined PIP coverage, he still maintained liability insurance coverage for the motorcycle.  This was an issue of first impression in Kansas and represents a significant victory for SWR’s client and the insurance industry.

Schneider v. Custom Truck

Christopher Staley and Jana Richards obtained dismissal against plaintiffs’ wrongful death claims arising out of a trucking accident in rural Oklahoma. Initially, plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in Jackson County, Missouri. Chris and Jana filed a motion to transfer venue out of Jackson County, Missouri and into Cole County, Missouri based upon the fact that the plaintiffs were out-of-state plaintiffs and the defendants’ registered office was in Cole County. After the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri transferred the case to Cole County, Chris and Jana filed a motion to dismiss based upon the doctrine of forum non conveniens (inconvenient forum). Chris and Jana argued that the case should be dismissed because Missouri was an inconvenient and inappropriate venue because the incident and alleged negligence took place in Oklahoma, and the plaintiffs were Oklahoma residents. Accordingly, the trial court dismissed plaintiffs’ wrongful death lawsuit.

Bradford v. 1520 Grand, LLC, Jackson County, MO

John Bordeau and Jenifer Svancara won summary judgment in a wrongful death case pending in Jackson County, Missouri.  The issue in the case was a landlord’s duty to protect business invitees from the criminal acts of a third party.  The Plaintiffs’ son was killed in a drive-by gunfight as the tenant’s nightclub was emptying after an event.  The event was sponsored and run by the nightclub, not the landlord.  The Court found that the landlord had no notice of the potential for violence on the night of the incident, and that the landlord had no duty to prevent the criminal acts of third parties.

Woodman v. Tyler, Johnson County, KS

Michael Hobbs and Brad Russell concluded a trial this week involving allegations that our client had negligently caused a residential house fire through the use of a hot plate. Plaintiff’s pre-trial demand was $1.2 million, and plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s liability insurance carrier had committed bad faith in failing to settle the case within the available policy limits. At trial, the defense cross examined plaintiff’s first two experts concerning the cause and origin of the fire. On the following morning, plaintiff agreed to settle all claims against the defendant and his liability insurance carrier for only 65% of the available policy limits. Our 90 year old client was certain that he did not cause the fire and appreciated our efforts in arguing the case and obtaining this result.

Cantrell v. Christensen, United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri

The case involved a rear end auto accident in March 2015 in the westbound lanes of NW Chipman Road near the intersection of NW Ward Road in Kansas City. Defendant admitted liability at trial but challenged the nature and extent of plaintiff’s damages. Plaintiff alleged a serious neck injury that would require a $214,000 surgery plus pain/suffering damages totaling a request for an award of over $500,000. In contrast, the defense presented argument through plaintiff’s medical records, the deposition of the ED physician and cross examination of plaintiff’s expert that plaintiff suffered nothing more than a cervical strain that resolved in eight weeks, culminating in total damages of $20,000. The jury awarded plaintiff $10,000. (Several months before trial, the defense won a partial dispositive motion regarding plaintiff’s failure to timely designate experts that resulted in a sanctions award of $12,956. Because of the previous sanctions award, plaintiff ultimately owed the defense $2,956 after trial.)

Tate v Dierks

In February 2019, Mike Kirkham obtained an unanimous defense verdict in a wrongful death trucking case in Jackson County, Missouri in which the pre-trial demand was $900,000. Plaintiff appealed on multiple grounds. After oral argument before the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District in October 2020, the Court affirmed the Judgment.