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GRIFFIN v. STATE

October 19, 1990.

KENNETH D. GRIFFIN, Appellee,
v.
STATE OF KANSAS, Appellant.



Following an adverse jury verdict, the State of Kansas appeals from the trial court's denial of its motions for summary judgment and dismissal. We affirm.

This case was filed as a damage action against the State of Kansas and the Kansas Department of Revenue. A trial resulted in a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff, Kenneth D. Griffin, against the State of Kansas. The jury assessed total damages of $7,000 and apportioned fault as follows: Griffin, 20%; Officer Rivera, 15%; and the State of Kansas, 65%.

The facts are not in dispute. In April of 1988, there were at least two individuals named Kenneth D. Griffin residing in the State of Kansas, each possessing a valid Kansas driver's license. One Kenneth D. Griffin resided in Junction City, and the other resided in Penokee.

  The Kenneth D. Griffin living in Penokee had been convicted of driving on a suspended license in February of 1987. In that same month, the Division of Vehicles sent a notice to him stating that his driver's license would be suspended unless his insurance company provided proof of insurance. The notice erroneously listed his driver's license number as Q4J1V5. Unfortunately for the Kenneth D. Griffin living in Junction City, this was his license number.

  In April of 1988, the Kenneth D. Griffin living in Junction City was stopped for speeding. The officer who stopped him, Nelson Rivera, ran a computer check on license number Q4J1V5, which indicated that the license was suspended. Based upon this information, Rivera arrested Griffin. Griffin was charged with driving on a suspended license in violation of a municipal ordinance of the City of Junction City.

  The Department of Revenue had mistakenly suspended the license of the Griffin living in Junction City based upon information received concerning the individual named Griffin living in Penokee. The pretrial order in this case states, "[D]efendants stipulate to the following: A, the Division of Vehicles of the Kansas Department of Revenue, in suspending the driver's license of a Kenneth D. Griffin residing in Penokee, Kansas, placed the `suspension'

[14 Kan. App. 2d 805]

      notation in its central computer file under the plaintiffs name [Kenneth D. Griffin of Junction City, Kansas]."

  The charge against Mr. Griffin of Junction City was dismissed by motion of the city attorney. The Driver Control Bureau action and the entry thereon suspending his license was eventually "deleted."

  Griffin filed a civil action against the Kansas Department of Revenue and the State of Kansas. Essentially, Griffin alleged that the Kansas Department of Revenue was negligent and that he had suffered humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress, and loss of reputation. He also alleged that, as a result of information provided by the State of Kansas, he was arrested falsely.

  The defendants filed various pretrial motions, including a motion for summary judgment, a motion for partial summary judgment, and a "partial motion to dismiss." The motion for summary judgment argued that the defendants were immune from suit under K.S.A. 75-6104(j) (Ensley 1984), now K.S.A. 75-6104(k) (Ensley 1989), the inspection exception to the Kansas Tort Claims Act. The motion for partial summary judgment argued that Officer Rivera lacked statutory authority to arrest Griffin for driving on a suspended license and, therefore, the defendants could not be held liable based upon Rivera's actions. The partial motion to dismiss contended that "mental damages" were not recoverable in the action.

  Upon hearing the motions, the court dismissed the Kansas Department of Revenue from the case and dismissed the cause of action based upon false arrest. The remaining motions filed by defendants were denied, and the State of Kansas was left as the sole defendant.

  The trial court allowed the case to proceed to trial on the negligence issue alone with the result as previously noted.

  The State of Kansas raises three issues on appeal:

  (1) The trial court erred in denying the State's motion for summary judgment based upon the inspection exception to the Kansas Tort Claims Act;

  (2) the court erred by denying the State's motion to dismiss the claims for "mental damages;" and

[14 Kan. App. 2d 806]

     

  (3) the court erred by denying the State's motion for partial summary judgment of the damages resulting from the ...


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