The Kentucky Supreme Court agreed with the Kentucky Chamber and upheld the actions of the Kentucky Court of Appeals in a class action lawsuit against Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK). A trial court reopened the case, first filed in 1999, more than six years after it was dismissed by the court, more than five years after that decision was unanimously affirmed by the Court of Appeals, and more than four years after the Kentucky Supreme Court denied discretionary review, which made the decision final.
Kentucky competes with her sister states for jobs, and any perceived willingness to re-litigate final judgments based on post-judgment changes in the law would put it at a competitive disadvantage to every other state, particularly given the practically uniform precedent holding a case should not be re-opened on such grounds. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce filed a friend of the Court brief in this case arguing that reopening settled claims would create significant uncertainty and negatively impact the business climate of Kentucky. Both the Appeals Court and Supreme Court agreed with the Chamber and reversed a lower court ruling.
“This is a significant victory for small businesses in particular,” said Bryan Sunderland, senior vice president. “Absent a reasonable degree of certainty and predictability, small business owners are much less willing to place their capital at risk by hiring new employees or investing in new equipment. Without finality of legal decisions, certainty and predictability are abolished.”
The Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed the lower Court decision to reopen the case in November 2013. Their decision was made final by the Kentucky Supreme Court on April 9, 2014, when it denied a review of the Court of Appeals decision. The Kentucky Chamber was represented by D. Eric Lycan and Christopher Slaughter of Steptoe and Johnson PLLC.