Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Saber Management-Kentucky, LLC v. Commonwealth ex rel. Beshear

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

August 23, 2019

SABER MANAGEMENT-KENTUCKY, LLC APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, EX REL. ANDY BESHEAR, ATTORNEY GENERAL APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM FRANKLIN CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE THOMAS D. WINGATE, JUDGE ACTION NO. 17-CI-00417

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: J. Bissell Roberts Louisville, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General of Kentucky John Ghaelian Benjamin Long Assistant Attorneys General Frankfort, Kentucky

          BEFORE: CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE; MAZE AND NICKELL, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Saber Management-Kentucky, LLC ("Saber") appeals from the Franklin Circuit Court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky on the parties' Joint Petition for Declaration of Rights and Agreed Case (the "Petition") concerning the sale of preneed, i.e., prior to death, burial vaults in Kentucky.

         Upon close review of the record and applicable statutory language, we affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         Saber owns sixteen cemeteries throughout Kentucky. Saber's rules and regulations require the use of burial vaults whenever a grave space is used in one of their cemeteries. Concrete or steel burial vaults enclose a casket and support the soil above and around the casket to prevent sinking or collapse and make it less difficult to maintain the appearance of the cemetery. The weight of the earth and other cemetery equipment used to dig graves would otherwise cause occupied gravesites to collapse if a burial vault was not in place. Saber's preneed sales of burial vaults are made pursuant to a written contract, and the purchaser of the vault either pays the entire purchase price immediately or in installments over a period of time.

         On April 17, 2017, the Attorney General, as the duly elected officer responsible for enforcing and administering the consumer protection laws set out in Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) Chapter 367, and Saber submitted the Petition to the Franklin Circuit Court. The primary issue involved whether the preneed sale of burial vaults constituted "preneed burial contracts" as defined by KRS 367.932(3), which would require the cemetery to put all of the proceeds of the sale into a trust until the individual has died and the services and merchandise have been provided under KRS 367.934, or whether the sales constituted a "preneed cemetery merchandise contract," which would require only 40% of the proceeds of the sale to be put into a trust or covered by a bond under KRS 367.954.

         The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the trial court ruled in favor of the Commonwealth, holding that "the statutory construction only reasonably lends itself to the determination that burial vaults are Preneed Burial Contract goods and could not be Cemetery Merchandise." In reaching its conclusion, the court determined that, with "KRS 367.932(3), the General Assembly defined a Preneed Burial Contract as a contract governing 'personal property, merchandise, or services of any nature in connection with the final disposition of a dead human body, for future use at a time determinable by death of the person whose body is to be disposed of[.]" The trial court explained that "[b]urial vaults are containers into which a casket or urn with human remains is placed. The only purpose for the vaults is to seal the vessel which holds the human remains." After considering the definition of preneed burial contracts and the nature of burial vaults, the trial court held that "burial vaults can only be found to directly relate to the final disposition of a dead human body, which Preneed Burial Contracts control."

         In response to the circuit court's ruling, Saber filed a motion to alter, amend, or vacate pursuant to Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure (CR) 59.05 and a motion to amend pursuant to CR 52.02. After briefing and oral argument, the trial court reaffirmed its prior ruling in favor of the Commonwealth. Saber then filed a motion asking the circuit court to rule on Saber's CR 52.02 motion to amend, which the court denied on June 25, 2018, for the reasons set forth in its other two opinions. This appeal followed.

         ANALYSIS

         As a preliminary matter, this case involves a question of statutory construction, which presents a "question of law[.]" Harrison v. Park Hills Bd. of Adjustment, 330 S.W.3d 89, 94 (Ky. App. 2011) (citations omitted). "The standard of review for questions of law is de novo." Hamilton-Smith v. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.