A lawsuit filed after an on-duty Great Bend Police officer was involved in an automobile accident in 2005 recently came before the Kansas Court of Appeals.
The injury accident occurred March 30, 2005, and involved GBPD officer Christopher Shultz and Layne Steinert, who was on the job for his employer, Eagle Enterprises at the time. Steinert sustained lower back, hip and leg injuries.
When Steinert did not file a personal injury suit within one year of the accident, a claim was filed by Continental Western Insurance Company, the workers compensation insurance carrier for Steinert’s employer. That suit was filed in 2007 against Shultz and the City of Great Bend, alleging the accident was due to Shultz’s careless and negligent driving.
Continental had paid Steinert $19,590 in workers compensation benefits and sought that amount in damages.
In 2008, Continental filed a motion seeking to amend its claim, after discovering a mistake had been made. The $19,590 compensation was actually for a prior accident Steinert had involving a deer. Continental learned it had paid Steinert $93,000 in workers compensation benefits related to the Shultz accident. The motion to amend to allege damages “in excess of $75,000” was approved in Barton County District Court.
Attorneys for Shultz and the City of Great Bend appealed that decision, arguing the district court did not have jurisdiction over the claim for higher damages and the case should be dismissed.
The district court eventually upheld its decision to allow the amended petition and did not dismiss the case, determining it still had jurisdiction.
On June 5, 2009, Continental filed a motion to further amend its statement of monetary to $228,088, noting that payments to Steinert were ongoing.
On Dec. 17, 2009, Barton County District Judge Ron Svaty granted a motion to dismiss.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling that the insurance company’s amendment seeking more money was not “fatal” to the case and the district court has jurisdiction. The court overruled the district court ruling to dismiss the case. The memorandum opinion was written by J. Pierron, with J. Malone dissenting.