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Transit Auth. of River City v. Bibelhauser

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

September 27, 2013

TRANSIT AUTHORITY OF RIVER CITY AND DALTON HOLT, APPELLANTS
v.
ADAM BIBELHAUSER AND FEDERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT. HONORABLE MITCHELL PERRY, JUDGE. ACTION NO. 09-CI-008951.

BRIEFS FOR APPELLANTS: R. Allen Button, R. Thad Keal, Prospect, Kentucky.

BRIEF FOR APPELLEE ADAM BIBELHAUSER: Douglass Farnsley, Bethany A. Breetz, Julie M. McDonnell, Louisville, Kentucky.

BRIEF FOR APPELLEE FEDERAL INSURANCE CO.: Roberta K. Kiser, Lexington, Kentucky.

BEFORE: CLAYTON, COMBS, AND VANMETER, JUDGES.

OPINION

Page 172

VANMETER, JUDGE:

Transit Authority of River City (" TARC" ) and Dalton Holt appeal from the Jefferson Circuit Court order denying TARC's motion for partial summary judgment. The issue before us is whether TARC enjoys immunity from the underlying negligence action filed by Adam Bibelhauser to recover injuries he sustained after being struck by a TARC bus that was operated by Holt.[1] For the following reasons, we agree with the trial court that TARC is not immune from suit and affirm its order denying TARC's motion for summary judgment.

On September 8, 2008, Holt, while operating a TARC bus, collided with Bibelhauser in the crosswalk at the intersection of Fourth and Market Streets in Louisville, Kentucky. Bibelhauser filed suit against Holt, in his individual capacity, and against TARC. Bibelhauser alleged that TARC was negligent in its hiring, training, supervision, and retention of Holt as its employee. TARC claimed immunity and moved for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. This appeal followed.

Summary judgment shall be granted only if " the pleadings, depositions, answers

Page 173

to interrogatories, stipulations, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." CR[2] 56.03. The trial court must view the record " in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion for summary judgment and all doubts are to be resolved in his favor." Steelvest, Inc. v. Scansteel Serv. Ctr., Inc., 807 S.W.2d 476, 480 (Ky. 1991). Further, " a party opposing a properly supported summary judgment motion cannot defeat it without presenting at least some affirmative evidence showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial." Id. at 482.

On appeal from a grant of summary judgment, our standard of review is " 'whether the trial court correctly found that there were no genuine issues as to any material fact and that the moving party was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Lewis v. B & R Corp., 56 S.W.3d 432, 436 (Ky. App. 2001) (quoting Scifres v. Kraft, 916 S.W.2d 779, 781, 43 1 Ky. L. Summary 17 (Ky. App. 1996)). We review the trial court's legal conclusions de novo. Hallahan v. Courier-Journal, 138 S.W.3d 699, 705 (Ky. App. 2004).

TARC claims immunity from suit under two related doctrines: sovereign immunity and governmental immunity. Sovereign immunity affords the state absolute immunity from suit and " extends to public officials sued in their representative (official) capacities, when the state is the real party against which relief in such cases is sought." Yanero v. Davis, 65 S.W.3d 510, 517-18 (Ky. 2001). Governmental immunity is granted to agencies that have been established by an immune entity and that perform a " 'function integral to state government.'" Comair, Inc. v. Lexington-Fayette ...


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