Amy Endres, Individually and on Behalf of the Heirs-At-Law of Steven L. Endres, Deceased, and as the Administrator of the Estate of Steven L. Endres, Deceased, Appellants,
Kimberly A. Young, RN, and Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, LLC, Appellees.
Whether a district court erred by granting a motion to
dismiss is a question of law subject to our unlimited review.
reviewing a motion to dismiss, we must view the well-pleaded
facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and assume
as true those facts and any inferences reasonably drawn from
them. If those facts and inferences state any claim upon
which relief can be granted, then dismissal is improper.
appellate court will not resolve any factual disputes when
deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
Dismissal of a lawsuit is proper only when the allegations in
the petition clearly demonstrate the plaintiff does not have
an injured employee could have recovered compensation for the
injury under the Kansas Workers Compensation Act, the law
commands that the employee cannot maintain an action against
his or her employer or another employee for damages based on
common law negligence.
from Cowley District Court; LaDonna L. Lanning, judge.
Reversed and remanded.
A. Prochaska, Bradley J. Prochaska, and James R. Howell, of
Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska LLC, of Wichita, for
C. Day and Patrick J. Murphy, of Woodard, Hernandez, Roth
& Day, LLC, of Wichita, for appellees.
Standridge, P.J., Hill and Buser, JJ.
case, a widow appeals the dismissal of her tort claim against
a company nurse and her employer for misdiagnosing her
deceased husband's heart condition at work. The district
court, relying upon an old case as precedent as well as
offering no consideration of the intervening major revisions
of the Kansas Workers Compensation Act, ruled that her
lawsuit was barred by the exclusive remedy of workers
compensation. The trouble with ancient precedent is that the
law is never static. Each wave of legislation and each new
appellate decision changes the law's seascape. What was
once legally possible, in time, becomes legally impossible.
Because the fundamental changes in the Kansas Workers
Compensation Act cannot be ignored, we hold the precedent the
district court relied upon is no longer reliable. We do not
know what the future holds in store for this action but we do
know it must survive a motion to dismiss. We reverse and
Steve Endres has chest pains at work followed by his
death after work.
gleaned the following facts from a fair reading of the
petition filed in this case. As we point out later, under our
civil procedure rules, they must serve as the only facts that
the district court could rely upon when it considered the
Defendants' joint motion to dismiss.
7:30 a.m., while he was working at Creekstone Farms Premium
Beef, LLC, Steven Endres, the director of plant operations,
began to experience chest pains. Over the noon hour, he
sought treatment from the company nurse, Kimberly Young, RN.
She noted he had mildly elevated blood pressure, a low pulse,
and he was mildly dehydrated. Young diagnosed Endres with
gastroesophageal reflux disease. Endres returned to his usual
duties. That evening, after work, Endres went to the golf
course, suffered a heart attack, and died. The emergency room
doctor noted that Endres was at a cardiac standstill
(asystole) the entire time he was in the emergency room. His
time of death is listed as 8 p.m.
widow, Amy Endres, on behalf of herself, the heirs, and as
administrator of Steven's estate, brought a medical
negligence lawsuit against both Nurse Young and Creekstone.
She alleged that because of Young's deviation from the
standard of care, Endres suffered loss:
"As a result of defendants' deviations from the
standard of care in failing to properly treat Mr. Endres'
acute coronary syndrome (ACS), including but not limited to,
transferring Mr. Endres to the hospital, Mr. Endres died.
"Had Steven Endres' condition been properly
assessed, diagnosed, monitored and appropriate care and
treatment been provided by defendants, Steven Endres would
not have endured significant avoidable pain, suffering and
death. Accordingly, defendants breached their duty to Steven
Endres, which breach caused or contributed to the injury and
death of Steven Endres.
"After his evaluation by Kimberly Young, RN and before
his death, and as a direct result of the deviations from the
standard of care by defendants, Steven Endres suffered
permanent injury, pain, suffering, mental anguish, medical
expenses and other losses."
Defendants responded by contending that the Plaintiffs'
exclusive remedy was through the Kansas Workers Compensation
Act and not through a tort action. Both moved to dismiss the
lawsuit for failure to state a claim. In their view, this
lawsuit was barred by law. The district court agreed and
granted the motion to dismiss. This appeal followed.
is significant that this was a motion to dismiss.
district court dismissed the petition for failure to state a
claim under K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 60-212(b)(6). This is the
procedural equivalent to saying, "We have read your
petition and say, so what? Since there is no legal
significance to your claim, your lawsuit must be
dismissed." Because this case centers on a motion to
dismiss, certain rules guide our review.
a district court erred by granting a motion to dismiss is a
question of law subject to our unlimited review. Cohen v.
Battaglia, 296 Kan. 542, 545, 293 P.3d 752 (2013).
During our review, caselaw commands that we must view the
well-pleaded facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff
and assume as true those facts and any inferences reasonably
drawn from them. If those facts and inferences state
any claim upon which relief can be granted, then
dismissal is improper. See Cohen, 296 Kan. at
545-46; K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 60-212. We will not resolve any
factual disputes when deciding a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim. Dismissal of a lawsuit is proper
only when the allegations in the petition clearly
demonstrate the plaintiff does not have a claim. See
Steckline Communications, Inc. v. Journal Broadcast Group
of Kansas, Inc., 305 Kan. 761, Syl. ¶ 2, 388 P.3d
Interestingly, this is a rather unique case where the
employer is arguing that the worker (or his estate) is
entitled to workers compensation benefits. Basically, the
Defendants contend that the Plaintiffs have not stated a
claim for which relief may be granted because the exclusive