FROM BULLITT CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE RODNEY BURRESS, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 17-CI-00492
FOR APPELLANT: Jeffrey T. Sampson Louisville, Kentucky
FOR APPELLEE: Eric G. Farris Joe M. Mills Shepherdsville,
BEFORE: KRAMER, J. LAMBERT, AND NICKELL, JUDGES.
Williams appeals from an order of the Bullitt Circuit Court
dismissing her complaint against Katelin Hawkins,
Administratix of the Estate of Charlotte Hawkins
("Hawkins"). Williams contends Hawkins should be
estopped from asserting a statute of limitations defense for
failure to disclose Charlotte Hawkins'
("Charlotte") death and because no viable legal
entity was available for suit before the limitations expired.
After careful review of the briefs and law, and discerning no
error, we affirm.
March 3, 2015, Williams and Charlotte were involved in a
motor vehicle accident. On July 1, 2015, Williams'
counsel wrote Charlotte advising her of Williams'
representation and requesting she forward the letter to her
insurance carrier. On July 22, 2015, Jill Benningfield, a
Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company
("KFB") claims adjuster, responded and requested
Williams' counsel direct further correspondence
concerning the claim to her. This and subsequent letters
listed KFB's insured as Charlotte's husband, William
Hawkins. Benningfield and Williams' counsel periodically
exchanged pre-suit correspondence regarding Williams'
injuries and medical expenses. Neither knew Charlotte passed
away on October 16, 2015, nor did they know Charlotte's
husband petitioned the Bullitt District Probate Court to
dispense with administration of Charlotte's Estate, which
was granted on November 24, 2015.
filed suit against Charlotte on February 16, 2017. On
February 27, 2017, KFB assigned defense counsel. On March 2,
2017, as a result of a CourtNet search, Charlotte's
counsel learned Charlotte was deceased and notified
Williams' counsel the same day. Charlotte's counsel
moved to dismiss the action, and on April 19, 2017, Bullitt
Circuit Court Action No. 17-CI-00170 was dismissed as a legal
March 30, 2017, Williams' counsel moved the Bullitt
District Probate Court to reopen Charlotte's Estate,
which was subsequently granted. Williams filed the instant
suit against Charlotte's Estate on May 25, 2017, in
Bullitt Circuit Court Action No. 17-CI-00492. Hawkins moved
to dismiss the action because it was filed outside the
two-year statute of limitations imposed by the Kentucky Motor
Vehicle Reparations Act (KMVRA). KRS 304.39-230(6). After a
hearing, the trial court dismissed the action for failure to
file within the limitations period. This appeal followed.
appeal, Williams presents two arguments. First, she asserts
KFB's failure to disclose Charlotte's death estops
application of the statute of limitations. Second, she
contends it is inherently inequitable for a party to have no
way to sue before the statute of limitations expires.
Although Williams cites Gailor v. Alsabi, 990 S.W.2d
597 (Ky. 1999), and Harris v. Jackson, 192 S.W.3d
297 (Ky. 2006), as modified (May 24, 2006), to
support her arguments, these cases compel the same
conclusions reached by the trial court.
Supreme Court of Kentucky defined the appellate standard of
review of a motion to dismiss as:
[a] motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted admits as true the material facts of
the complaint. So a court should not grant such a motion
unless it appears the pleading party would not be entitled to
relief under any set of facts which could be proved. . . .
Stated another way, the court must ask if the facts alleged
in the complaint can be proved, would the plaintiff be
entitled to relief? Since a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted is a pure
question of law, a reviewing court owes no deference to a
trial court's determination; instead, an appellate court
reviews the issue de novo.
Fox v. Grayson, 317 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Ky. 2010) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted). The date on which the
two-year statute of limitations, pursuant to KRS
304.39-230(6), began to run is also a question of law, not
fact; therefore, our standard of review on that issue is also