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Doe v. Golden & Walters, PLLC

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

February 8, 2019

JOHN DOE # 1-37; JANE DOE # 1-6; and other similarly-situated John Doe and Jane Doe victims, as a class APPELLANTS
v.
GOLDEN & WALTERS, PLLC; J. DALE GOLDEN; EUGENE GOSS; MARK DAVID GOSS; FERNANDEZ FRIEDMAN GROSSMAN & KOHN, PLLC; DAVID A. FRIEDMAN; ROBERT E. REEVES; REEVES & ASSOCIATES; ROBERT L. TREADWAY, JR.; WILLIAM LARRY HUFFMAN; GAYLE E. SLAUGHTER; BARRY LYNN DEMUS, JR.; OCTAVIUS GILLIS; CHRISTOPHER ANDRE WILLIAMS; CRAIG JOHNSON; DAVID T. JONES; JOHN DOE NOS. 1-16 APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM FAYETTE CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE PAMELA R. GOODWINE, JUDGE ACTION NO. 06-CI-05590

          BRIEFS FOR APPELLANTS: James M. Morris Sharon K. Morris Lexington, Kentucky ORAL ARGUMENT FOR APPELLANTS: James M. Morris Lexington, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEES SLAUGHTER AND HUFFMAN: Gayle E. Slaughter Lexington, Kentucky BRIEF FOR APPELLEES GOLDEN, GOSS, FRIEDMAN AND REEVES: Bethany A. Breetz Louisville, Kentucky ORAL ARGUMENT FOR APPELLEES: Chadwick McTighe Louisville, Kentucky

          BEFORE: CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE; COMBS AND JONES, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          COMBS, JUDGE:

         The procedural history of the litigation underlying this appeal is long and complicated. The matter has been before this Court three times. It arises collaterally from a number of putative class actions filed in federal court alleging civil rights violations against members of the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG). The appellants were plaintiffs in the action underlying the appeal. They are a putative class of unnamed alleged victims of still more alleged civil rights violations. The appellees were defendants in the underlying action. They are individual attorneys and law firms that represented a number of the initial alleged victims of the claimed civil rights violations in the federal putative class action litigation.

         In an opinion rendered in the parties' first appeal to this Court, we included the following summary of the relevant history of the federal court proceedings:

This case arises out of a series of federal class actions filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky: Guy v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (Guy); Doe # 1-9 v. Miller (Doe I); Doe # 1-33 v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (Doe II); Doe # 1-44 v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (Doe III); and Doe v. Miller.
Guy was filed on October 15, 1998, by four named plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and a class of similarly-situated persons who were allegedly sexually abused as minors by Ron Berry through their involvement with Micro-City Government. Berry was the director of Micro-City Government, a nonprofit, community service program for disadvantaged youth that was sponsored and funded, in part, by LFUCG. The action alleged that LFUCG violated the plaintiffs' civil rights because it continued to fund Micro-City Government, despite having knowledge that Berry was a sexual predator.
Before any ruling had been made on the issue of class certification, the named plaintiffs of Guy filed a joint motion with LFUCG to enter an agreed order of dismissal based on a tentative settlement agreement making no provisions for putative class members. Craig Johnson and David Jones, who were not named plaintiffs, then moved to be allowed to represent the putative class of plaintiffs. They also filed a motion seeking to require the district court to issue notice to the putative class members of any settlement or denial of certification. They later filed a motion to intervene and an intervening complaint.
On February 4, 2000, the district court entered an order approving the settlement of three of the four named plaintiffs with LFUCG and dismissing their claims against LFUCG, with prejudice. The district court denied the joint motion of Johnson and Jones to intervene but noted that the statute of limitations remained tolled for them and for all putative class members of Guy until the denial of class certification or the dismissal of the case. After a hearing, the district court entered an order on February 28, 2000, rejecting a pro se motion by the fourth named plaintiff to disapprove the settlement. The order approved the settlement between LFUCG and the fourth named plaintiff and dismissed his claims against LFUCG.
Although there was no party left in the case to urge class certification, the district court ruled on that issue in an April 4, 2000, order. The district court found that the fact that additional putative class members had not presented themselves since the suit was filed in October 1998, despite considerable publicity surrounding the case, indicated that the class was likely not so numerous that joinder was impracticable, one of the prerequisites of a federal class action. Further, the court ruled that notice to putative class members was not warranted because the class failed to meet the prerequisites for certification.
Id. Doe I Guy. Guy Doe I Doe I
The third class action, Doe II, was filed on September 25, 2002, by a group of named plaintiffs on behalf of the same class as Guy and Doe I. Doe II also raised civil rights claims against LFUCG. The district court denied class certification, holding that the plaintiffs of Doe II were collaterally estopped from relitigating the merits of class certification based on the denial of certification in Doe I. On April 25, 2003, the district court dismissed as time-barred all the claims of all of the named plaintiffs except for one Doe II plaintiff. Some of the claims of the remaining named Doe II plaintiffs were also ...

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