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Waugh v. Parker

Supreme Court of Kentucky

September 26, 2019

SUZANNE WAUGH APPELLANT
v.
CAROL PARKER AND JOHN PARKER APPELLEES

          ON REVIEW FROM COURT OF APPEALS CASE NO. 2017-CA-000255-MR JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT NO. 2014-CI-004970

          COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: John C. Dodson Nicholas Gaffney Evans Thomas, Dodson & Wolford, PLLC

          COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Berlin Tsai Joseph Patrick Hummel Lvnch Cox Gilman & Goodman, P.S.C.

          COUNSEL FOR KENTUCKY DEFENSE COUNSEL, INC. Joseph Wright Thompson Miller & Simpson PLC Andrew McGrath Yocum Kriz, Jenkins, Prewitt & Jones, PSC

          OPINION

          BUCKINGHAM JUSTICE

         Suzanne Waugh appeals from an opinion of the Court of Appeals that affirmed an order of the Jefferson Circuit Court dismissing her claims for personal injuries in a civil action against her landlords, John Parker and Carol Parker. Waugh's claims were based upon injuries she sustained as a result of a porch railing giving way, causing her to fall and suffer an ankle injury. For the reasons explained below, we affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Waugh and her boyfriend, James Parnell, rented a single-family home from the Parkers.[1] The residence included a side porch surrounded by an old, loose, and poorly maintained railing. From her prior inspection and knowledge of the railing, Waugh was aware of its condition.[2]

         In December 2013, as Waugh opened the storm door leading from the porch into the house, a sudden gust of wind caught the door and knocked her into the railing. The railing gave way, and Waugh fell to the asphalt surface below and fractured her right ankle.

         Waugh filed a civil action against the Parkers in the Jefferson Circuit Court alleging they were liable for her injuries. Following the completion of discovery, during which Waugh disclosed in her deposition that she was aware of the poor condition of the railing through her prior inspection and knowledge of it, the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the Parkers.

         The Court of Appeals affirmed the award of summary judgment, and this Court granted discretionary review to examine the effect of the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (the URLTA) upon long-standing common law doctrine in Kentucky.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, a trial court must view the record in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, resolving all doubts in its favor. Steelvest, Inc. v. Scansteel Serv. Ctr., Inc., 807 S.W.2d 476, 480 (Ky. 1991). The trial court may grant summary judgment only if it concludes that no disputed issues of material fact exist for trial. Id. On appeal of a summary judgment, we must determine whether the trial court correctly found that the moving party was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Id. Because summary judgment involves questions of law, we need not defer to the trial court's conclusions; accordingly, we review the record de novo. Blevins v. Moran, 12 S.W.3d 698, 700-01 (Ky. App. 2000).

         III. THE PARKERS ARE NOT LIABLE TO WAUGH UNDER THE URLTA AND KRS 446.070

         KRS 383.500 authorizes cities, counties, and urban-county governments to enact the provisions of the URLTA. The Act has been adopted in Jefferson County.

         KRS 383.590 provides in relevant part that "[a]t the commencement of the term a landlord shall deliver possession of the premises to the tenant in compliance with the rental agreement and KRS 383.595." KRS 383.595 (1)(a) provides that a landlord shall "[c]omply with the requirements of applicable ...


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