Courts generally do not decide a lawsuit when its ruling
would no longer have any practical significance, which means
the lawsuit is moot. But there are exceptions to this general
rule, including (1) when the issue is of public importance
and capable of repetition and (2) when dismissal of the
appeal could adversely affect vital rights of one of the
parties. A court may decide a moot case if it fits one of the
Under the definition of "stalking" in the Kansas
Protection from Stalking Act, a plaintiff must have
reasonable fear for his or her safety and the defendant's
actions must be ones that would cause a reasonable person to
suffer from substantial emotional distress before a district
court may find the defendant stalked the plaintiff. In
deciding whether stalking has taken place when the plaintiff
is a child, the court must view the circumstances from the
viewpoint of a reasonable child of the plaintiff's age.
from Sedgwick District Court; Benjamin L. Burgess, judge.
Ogle, of Ogle Law Office, L.L.C., of Wichita, and Kristen B.
Patty, of Wichita, for appellant.
C. Stuart, of Wichita, for appellee.
Leben, P.J., Pierron and Bruns, JJ.
McKee appeals the protection-from-stalking order entered
against him and in favor of his neighbor, A.M., a young girl
who was 11 years old at the time the order was entered. A
protection-from-stalking order is available in Kansas when
someone has engaged in a course of conduct that placed the
other person in reasonable fear for that person's safety
and that would cause a reasonable person to suffer
substantial emotional distress.
contends on appeal that a reasonable 11-year-old child
wouldn't have feared for her safety or suffered
substantial emotion distress due to his actions. But when we
look at this from the vantage point of a reasonable
11-year-old child, sufficient evidence supports the district
court's conclusion that this child was reasonably in fear
and suffered substantial emotional distress-caused when McKee
jumped out from behind bushes as the girl was walking home
from school and when he took his hands off the steering wheel
of his truck and swerved in the direction of the car the girl
was riding in.
and Procedural Background
parties to this case have been neighbors for about 10 years.
Their relationship became strained when McKee began to
complain to A.M.'s father (Father) and the City of
Wichita about the condition of his neighbor's yard.
A.M.'s mother (Mother) and Father both filed
protection-from-stalking suits against McKee, and Mother also
filed suit on A.M.'s behalf. The district court ruled in
McKee's favor on the suits brought by Mother and Father,
so our discussion will center on the allegations related to
A.M., who testified at the trial held in district court.
described three incidents. In the first, she said McKee
jumped out of the bushes as she was walking home with a
friend in the alley behind McKee's house. A.M. said she
was scared and ran to her Mother. In the second, she said she
was kicking an old plastic bottle with friends in her
backyard when the bottle sailed over the fence into
McKee's yard. She said he frightened her by yelling at
her and her friends from his yard. In the third, she said
that she and a friend were in a car being driven by Father
when McKee drove toward them in ...