AG’s Office defends two state laws in Kansas Supreme Court cases

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 3:32 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s Office will defend two state laws while the Kansas Supreme Court resumes hearings.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt says attorneys with his office will argue for the Kansas Supreme Court to uphold two state statutes against constitutional challenges as the court resumes its daily operations that were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to AG Schmidt, the hearings will be held virtually while the seven-member Court resumes operating during the fall term, which started on Monday with arguments in three cases.

“It is important that the wheels of justice begin turning again, and I appreciate the Supreme Court taking up these important cases,” Schmidt said. “The pandemic has disrupted so much, but it is essential we all find ways to keep vital public services operating. We will continue to do our work of defending duly enacted state statutes against legal challenges to their validity.”

AG Schmidt said on Wednesday his office would defend Kansas' 2013 statute that prohibits lawsuits claiming wrongful birth or wrongful life. He said the case challenges the constitutionality of the statute prohibiting filing a civil action for failure of a doctor or medical professional to identify before birth a medical abnormality in a child born with severe birth defects. He said the Riley County District Court upheld the law in 2017 and the Kansas Court of Appeals in 2018. He said lower courts ruled that the law is constitutional due to there being no right to sue for wrongful birth in 1859, the time the Kansas Constitution was adopted. He said the hearing in Tillman and Fleetwood v. Goodpasture is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

According to AG Schmidt, the second case is an appeal of a lower court ruling that overturned provisions of the state workers' compensation laws adopting medical guidelines for monetary awards to injured employees. He said his office intervened in Johnson v. U.S. Food Service to defend the statute that adopts the Sixth Edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. He said the Legislature amended state workers' compensation laws in 2015, which updated from the Fourth Edition of the AMA guide issued in 1993 to the Sixth Edition released in 2007. He said the Kansas Court of Appeals held the statutory change violated the plaintiff’s due process right to seek a remedy for injuries. He said according to Kansas law, he has the right to intervene in any case challenging the constitutionality of a duly enacted statute. He said this hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17.

AG Schmidt said in addition, his office is also leading or assisting county or district attorneys in multiple criminal appeals being heard by the Supreme Court. He said livestreams and video archives can be found here.

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