Michelle L. Hurley joined the firm in 2006 following her graduation from the University of Kentucky College of Law, where she served on the Kentucky Law Journal. She graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown College in 2003, with a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science. Michelle, a partner in the firm, practices civil litigation and equine law. In 2013 she was the co-winner of the Edward S. Bonnie Award, awarded to the outstanding equine lawyer by the Equine Law Section of the Kentucky Bar Association. Michelle has prepared written materials for (some of which are found on this website) and lectured at the Equine Law Update CLE Seminar, sponsored by the Equine Law Section of the Kentucky Bar Association. She is from London, Kentucky.
Ruth Ann Sadler v. Barbara Lois Van Buskirk (2013-SC-000809-DG, December 17, 2015)
This case involved a conflict between the beneficiary listing on an IRA as compared to the Property Settlement Agreement terms entered into by the parties. In the divorce, Van Buskirk agreed that she would not receive an of the IRA funds upon the death of the IRA’s owner, her former husband. However, when former husband passed away, he had not changed the IRA beneficiary form which still listed the ex-wife. MGM argued the case of apparent first impression to the Kentucky Supreme Court in March 2015 and in its renderings in December 2015, the Court held in favor of Sadler to make clear that the Van Buskirk Property Settlement Agreement and Divorce Decree controlled over the stale IRA form.
Family law/IRA beneficiary/Divorce Decree/failure to comply with divorce decreeLitigation Transactional Law Family Law
Daniel Werre v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, Franklin Circuit Court, 14-CI-418 (June 15, 2015)
Kentucky Racing Commission suspended trainer Werre for a year because the horse tested positive for Levamisole. The Franklin Circuit Court reversed the Racing Commission’s suspension of the trainer because the Racing Commission did not sustain its burden of showing the propriety of the penalty imposed. The Racing Commission had misclassified the drug on its own Schedules and application of the regulation was therefore unconstitutional.
Racing Commission/administrative agency/burden/LevamisoleEquine Law Litigation
Sotingeanu v. Benton, COA 2013-CA-1060 (Whitley Circuit Court, October 24, 2014)
Parents who never married presented an issue of whether a trial court’s order directing and authorizing one parent to obtain a passport for their minor child was an enforceable order. The mother argued that the order was a modification of the custody decree without proper findings of fact and conclusions of law. On appeal the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court that it followed the proper procedure in conjunction with the federal regulation (22 CFR 51.28) that governs issuance of a passport for a minor child.
Modification of custody decree/issuance of passport/22 CFR 51.28/CR 52/findings of fact/conclusions of lawLitigation Transactional Law Family Law
Norton et al v. Perry et al., COA 2011-CA-2343/2394, Fayette Circuit 08-CI-6061 (2013)
Property owners in Fayette and Clark Counties in Kentucky learned of an effort to “nominate” their property to be listed on the National Historic Registry run by the National Park Service. The properties involved totaled well over 10,000 acres and would be designated as a National Historic District. Several property owners requested for their property to be removed from the effort. Those individuals pushing for the listing refused. The objectors then presented official objections to the nomination as the applicable federal regulations set forth. As the objectors learned, once the process of the nomination is started — and it only takes one person to start the process — it may be impossible to stop it as the federal rules have been written to essentially make stopping the process an impossibility. The objectors totaled more than 50% of the landowners by number and totally much more than 50% by acreage owned. Yet the movants continued to press forward with the guidance and assistance of employees in the Kentucky Historical Council under the Department of Tourism. The objectors filed an action in the trial court to stop the process. The Court provided little assistance in stopping the process but ultimately found that and ruled that the process followed by the movants using the federal regulations was flawed and arbitrary. On appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, a 34 page published Opinion sets forth that the effort of the movants violated the property owners’ due process rights and that the property owners have a consitutional right to be left alone. The movants sought discretionary review by the Kentucky Supreme Court which was denied. This ruling is significant because it makes clear that the process to nominate real property to be listed on the National Historic Registry violates the due process rights of the property owner citizens of Kentucky and is arbitrary.Litigation Transactional Law
Stewart v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (2013 WL 1003534, Ky. App. 2013)
Veterinarian was charged with possession of sealed alpha cobratoxin vials and carbidopa/levodopa tablets at Keeneland training facility. The Stewards suspended the vet for four years for possession of cobratoxin and one year for carbidopa/levodopa, to run consecutively. The Franklin Circuit Court reversed carbidopa/levodopa suspension, finding that it was not based on substantial evidence. On cross-appeals, the Court of Appeals affirmed reversal of the suspension for carbidopa/levodopa, and reversed four-year suspension for possession of alpha cobratoxin. The Court held that 810 KAR 1:018 §19(1) was void for vagueness and therefore unconstitutional as applied to the vet.Equine Law Litigation
Blue Skies Racing Stable, LLC v. O’Sullivan Farms, LLC and Vinery, Ltd., (2012-CA-2116-MR)
Blue Skies Racing Stable, LLC appealed a judgment of the Fayette Circuit Court dismissing appellee, O’Sullivan Farms, LLC from its declaratory action. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. The controversy centered over who was entitled to ownership of a thoroughbred stallion named LIMEHOUSE. Blue Skies contended that it had a valid and binding contract to purchase the controlling interest in the horse from appellee, Vinery, Ltd. and that Vinery breached the contract by purporting to sell that controlling interest to a third party, O’Sullivan Farms, LLC, instead. Blue Skies moved for a temporary injunction to prohibit Vinery and O’Sullivan Farms from removing the horse from Kentucky and taking it to West Virginia during the pendency of the litigation. Vinery and O’Sullivan Farms opposed the motion for temporary injunction and alternatively moved to dismiss. The Court identified several errors by the trial court. First, the trial court orally overruled the motion for temporary injunction at an August 30, 2012 hearing. However, the Court held that the Court did not effectively “deny Blue Skies’ motion for a temporary injunction” because a court may speak “only through written orders entered upon the official record,” and no written findings of fact and conclusions of law were entered. Id. at *6. Second, the Court found that the trial court had no authority “to render a nonbinding advisory opinion,” and that the trial court “could not properly have disposed of the underlying merits of this dispute when simply considering Blue Skies’ motion for temporary injunction.” Therefore, the trial court erred in justifying its dismissal of O’Sullivan Farms by citing its previous “denial” of Blue Skies’ motion for temporary injunction. Third, the trial court erred by foreclosing the possibility that specific performance was an appropriate remedy for Blue Skies under the circumstances. Finally, the trial court erred by indicating that it lacked authority to unwind O’Sullivan Farms’ purported purchase of LIMEHOUSE or otherwise exercise jurisdiction over LIMEHOUSE because the horse was, at the time of the hearing on the motion to dismiss, located in another state. “The circuit court undisputedly has personal jurisdiction over O’Sullivan Farms . . . the circuit court is fully authorized to compel O’Sullivan Farms to act in relation to any property not within its jurisdiction.” Id. at *8.
Equine/personal jurisdiction/rescission of purchase/stallion interestEquine Law Litigation Transactional Law