Thomas W. Miller joined the firm in 1973 after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law, from which he graduated with highest distinction. Tom was also elected to the Order of the Coif, and served on the Kentucky Law Journal. Tom is largely engaged in trial and commercial practice, and is a frequent lecturer and author on equine and evidence issues. He is licensed to practice in Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma.
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
Higgins v. BAC Home Loans, Servicing, LP et al., 14-6167/6168 USCA 6th Cir
Doc 48-2USDC USCA 6th Circuit Opinion entered July 15, 2015.
Doc 73, Opinion and Order. USDC EDKy regarding US Bank, March 31, 2014.
Doc 74, Opinion and Order. USDC EDKy regarding FNMA FHFA, March 31, 2014.
Doc 75, Opinion and Order. USDC EDKy regarding BOA et al , March 31, 2014.Litigation Transactional Law
Frank D. Marcum v. Hon. E. Scorsone, Judge (2014-SC-172-MR Fayette Circuit April 2, 2015)
The trial court disqualified the firm from continuing to represent certain shareholders because it had previously represented the Board of the entity of which they are shareholders. A writ of prohibition was requested from the Court of Appeals to prevent the enforcement of the trial court’s disqualification order which was denied. The Supreme Court accepted discretionary review and concluded that the trial court had applied the wrong standard of review, reversed the Court of Appeals and directed the writ of prohibition be granted.
Disqualification of counsel/ Rules of Professional Conduct/Writ of prohibition/ shareholders derivative suit/ appearance of improprietyLitigation
Veitch v. Public Protection Cabinet, et al., Franklin Circuit Court, 13-CI-895 (November 26, 2014)
Chief State Steward of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission was terminated. The termination was upheld by the Kentucky Personnel Board. On judicial appeal of agency action, the Franklin Circuit Court reversed the termination, reinstated the Chief Steward with recovery of back pay.
Personnel board/chief state steward/racing commissionEquine Law Litigation Employment Law
Gulf Coast Farms, LLC, et al. v. Fifth Third Bank Fayette Circuit Court 11-CI-88
Fifth Third Bank sought to enforce banking agreements that included pledges of equine collateral. Gulf Coast attempted to prove that the terms of the agreement with the lender were different than contained within the documents executed by the parties. The trial court ruled in favor of Fifth Third by Opinion and Partial Summary Judgment entered on July 30, 2013. Gulf Coast appealed and the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed on April 19, 2013, in cases 2011-CA-965/1575/491, the trial court’s rulings in favor of Fifth Third.
In a related case, the US District Court ruled in favor of Fifth Third in its pursuit of proceeds generated from the sale of a share of a stallion, DISTORTED HUMOR that was pledged as collateral and the US Court of Appeals (case 13-6184) for the Sixth Circuit affirmed on July 23, 2014.
Equine collateral/four corners/ambiguityJuly 23, 2014 Filed Under: Equine Law Litigation Transactional Law
Baptist Physicians Lexington, Inc. v. The New Lexington Clinic, PSC, 2012-SC-242 (December 19, 2013)
The Kentucky Supreme Court clarified that the corporate fiduciary duty statute defined the duties of a director when acting in his official capacity on behalf of the corporation, but did not displace fiduciary duties when he was acting in his individual capacity and not in a corporate one. Thus, common law fiduciary duties survived enactment of statutes defining duties owed when acting on behalf of the corporation.
Fiduciary duties/corporations/ board member/officer/KRS 271B.8-300/pleadingLitigation Transactional Law Employment Law
Michael Joseph Flick v The Estate of Christina Wittich (2010-SC-664-DG, Fayette Circuit Court April 23, 2013)
Thomas W. Miller, attorney at Miller, Griffin & Marks, PSC, was appointed by Governor Steve Beshear as Special Justice to the Kentucky Supreme Court for this case that addressed appellate jurisdiction issues in a wrongful death action.
Appellate jurisdiction/ co-administrators/ fair notice of the appeal/ failure to name proper partyLitigation
James Lauffer v. Thoro-Graph, Inc. and Jerry Brown,Johnson Circuit Court 09-CI-157 (4/12/2010)
In the absence of an agreement, a horse purchaser adviser is limited to recovering 5% of the purchase price.Equine Law Litigation
Use of Repositories: A Buyer’s Perspective
Crawford v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (2008 WL 2885230 (E.D.Ky.))
Justin Crawford, a Sergeant in the Custody Bureau at the Fayette County Detention Center, came to Miller, Griffin & Marks with a complaint: the Detention Center administrators routinely refused to allow officers to take legally required meal and rest breaks, were not fairly compensating them for the true number of hours worked, and were retaliating against the few employees who dared to speak out. In a work environment which requires daily contact with dangerous individuals, the employees’ inability to enjoy meaningful meal and rest breaks away from inmates, alarms and other work responsibilities was particularly troublesome. Sergeant Crawford explained that many other employees had the same complaints, but were afraid of the consequences of publicizing their views. Thereafter, seven other Detention Center officers agreed to join him as lead plaintiffs in a class collective action originally filed in the Fayette Circuit Court, but ultimately resolved in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Sergeant Crawford was eventually joined by 316 other current and former Detention Center employees, all of whom alleged that the LFUCG had failed to comply with federal and state wage and hour laws. After more than two years of intense litigation, which included the taking and defending of almost one hundred depositions and extensive motion practice before the Court, Miller, Griffin & Marks was able to negotiate a fair settlement on behalf of the class. The Detention Center plaintiffs were finally paid the wages to which they were entitled. Even more importantly, the settlement included provisions to protect and benefit all Detention Center employees, present and future. The employees were assured of sufficient time in which to eat their meals, and an accurate method of reporting hours worked. Miller, Griffin & Marks is proud to have represented the Detention Center employees who serve our community, and remains committed to the values underlying the Fair Labor Standards Act.Litigation Employment Law
Litigating the Horse Transportation Claim
An Overview of Evidentiary Issues and Estate Disputes
SKS Merch, LLC, Toby Keith, et al. v. Mike Barry, Lou Black, Louie Catone 233 F.Supp.2d 841, 65 U.S. (2002)
p>Granting federal nationwide injunction under the Lanham Trade-Mark Act to country music artist against sellers of bootleg merchandise.Read more ›January 1, 2002 Filed Under: Litigation
Thomas v. Hodge, 897 FSupp 980 (USDC WDKY 1995)
Saddlehorse owners from California pursued claims for an accounting and breaches of fiduciary duty against their Kentucky-based agent who boarded, trained and showed their saddlebred horses. The United States District Court at Louisville ruled on a pretrial motion for an accounting and held that the agent was not required to account for expenses accrued when the agent was acting as vendor of services to principals and further had no duty to account for transactions in which he did not act as agent and did not receive a commission, distinguishing between horse sales transactions (i.e., disposition of principal’s property) and boarding and training expenses (merely rendering bills for payment). The Court made clear that an agency is a fiduciary relationship resulting from manifestation of consent by one person, the principal, to another, the agent, that the agent may act on the principal’s behalf and subject to his control; and consent by the agent to so act.
Principal/agent/equine industry/show horses/American Saddlebred Horse Association/accountingEquine Law Litigation
Chernick v. Fasig Tipton, 703 S.W.2d 885 (1986)
Sales companies have a duty to insure the accuracy of information supplied to buyers. This case was later cited in the adoption of negligent misrepresentation as a cause of action in Kentucky.Equine Law Litigation Transactional Law