351 P.3d 1243 (Kan. 2015), 107,174, Rodriguez v. Unified School District No. 500

Docket Nº107,174
Citation351 P.3d 1243
Opinion JudgeBeier, J.:
Party NameJESUS RODRIGUEZ, by and through His Next Friend and Natural Mother, GRACIELA RODRIGUEZ, Appellant, v. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 500, et al., Defendants, and MUTUAL OF OMAHA INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellee
AttorneyStephen R. McAllister, of counsel, of Thompson Ramsdell Qualseth & Warner, P.A., of Lawrence, argued the cause, Henri J. Watson and Russell S. Dameron, of Watson & Dameron, LLP, of Kansas City, Missouri, and were on the briefs for appellant. Robert J. Hoffman, of Bryan Cave LLP, of Kansas City, M...
Judge PanelBEIER, J. NUSS, C.J., not participating. MICHAEL J. MALONE, Senior Judge, assigned.[1] Johnson, J., dissenting:
Case DateJune 12, 2015
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas

Page 1243

351 P.3d 1243 (Kan. 2015)

JESUS RODRIGUEZ, by and through His Next Friend and Natural Mother, GRACIELA RODRIGUEZ, Appellant,

v.

UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 500, et al., Defendants, and MUTUAL OF OMAHA INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellee

No. 107,174

Supreme Court of Kansas

June 12, 2015

Review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in 49 Kan.App.2d 262, 306 P.3d 327 (2013) .

Appeal from Wyandotte District Court; R. WAYNE LAMPSON, judge.

Judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming the district court in part and reversing in part is reversed. Judgment of the district court is reversed and remanded.

SYLLABUS

BY THE COURT

Under relevant statutes and the school district policies and administrative guidelines in the record on this appeal, private vehicle transportation to a school soccer match during which a student was injured was " covered travel," as that phrase is defined in the insurance policy at issue. A reasonably prudent insured would understand the travel to be both " authorized" and " subject to reimbursement."

Stephen R. McAllister, of counsel, of Thompson Ramsdell Qualseth & Warner, P.A., of Lawrence, argued the cause, Henri J. Watson and Russell S. Dameron, of Watson & Dameron, LLP, of Kansas City, Missouri, and were on the briefs for appellant.

Robert J. Hoffman, of Bryan Cave LLP, of Kansas City, Missouri, argued the cause, and Lauren A. Horsman, of the same firm, was with him on the briefs for appellee.

BEIER, J. NUSS, C.J., not participating. MICHAEL J. MALONE, Senior Judge, assigned.1

OPINION

Beier, J.:

Page 1244

This appeal addresses whether a Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company policy issued to the Kansas State High School Activities Association provided coverage for catastrophic personal injury suffered by 10th grader Jesus Rodriguez.

We hold that coverage exists. We therefore reverse contrary rulings by the district court judge and a panel of our Court of Appeals, and we remand the case to the district court for further proceedings.

Factual and Procedural Background

The accident that injured Rodriguez occurred on August 29, 2006, while he was traveling to his first match of the Sumner Academy soccer season. Rodriguez was riding in the bed of a pickup truck driven by fellow student and teammate Mike Hitze when the pickup collided with another car. Rodriguez was thrown from the pickup and sustained the injury that now requires him to have round-the-clock care.

Rodriguez' mother, Graciela, initially filed this lawsuit on his behalf against the school district, Hitze, and the driver of the car that had collided with Hitze's truck.

During the course of the lawsuit, plaintiff learned that the Association, which administers various extracurricular activities in the state, had purchased a Mutual of Omaha policy to cover injuries sustained by participants during events the Association sanctioned, as well as during certain types of travel to and from such events. The insurance policy covered

" [s]tudents participating in interscholastic competition or activities under the jurisdiction of the KSHSAA including school-supervised practice, try-outs, pre and post game-related activities including award banquets and covered travel as defined under the policy."

There is no dispute that the soccer match was a competition that fit this description. The policy defined " covered travel" as

" team or individual travel, for purposes of representing the Participating School, that is to or from the location of a Covered Event and is authorized by the Insured Person's Participating School, provided the travel is paid for or subject to reimbursement by the Participating School. Covered Travel to a Covered Event will commence upon embarkation from an authorized departure point and terminate upon arrival at the location of the Covered Event." (Emphasis added.)

Rodriguez filed a claim, and Mutual of Omaha denied it, reasoning that the travel during which Rodriguez was injured did not qualify as covered under the policy. According to Mutual of Omaha, the school had indicated no request for reimbursement for the travel had been made; moreover, the travel was not " subject to reimbursement" because the school also had indicated that it had " been unable to locate any requests for reimbursement, or payment of, expenses incurred by a parent or student using a private vehicle to transport students to a sporting event." Mutual of Omaha asserted that all expenditures of the school system must be authorized by law, and there was no statutory authorization for a school to pay a private individual for use of a private car to transport a student in Rodriguez' circumstances.

After the denial of coverage, Mutual of Omaha was added as a defendant in this lawsuit. A bench trial limited to the insurance coverage issue followed.

Page 1245

Rodriguez' mother testified that Rodriguez' father had signed a permission form covering travel options for members of the soccer team. The form granted permission for Rodriguez to, among other things, " [r]ide with other players from school to practice, home meets, or to meet the bus for away meets" and to " [r]ide to team events with other players."

Israel Ocanas, one of the other team members who rode with Hitze and Rodriguez on the day of the accident, testified that he was unaware whether the school had provided a bus for team members. He said that no one had directed him to travel by bus. According to Ocanas, it was " normal . . . to just catch a ride with whoever was heading that way in a car." Ocanas testified that, when the campus officer let Hitze's pickup exit the school parking lot, Rodriguez was sitting in the pickup bed. The group then waited across from the school for other team members to arrive. Eventually a total of three, including Rodriguez, rode in the bed of the pickup.

Much of the testimony at trial focused on the school district's policies and administrative guidelines. The administrative guidelines mirror the numbering system of the policies but are amended with an " -A." As one of the school district's administrators would testify, the guidelines are not " policy per se. But they're . . . guidelines that administrators are expected to follow. They help them in making their decisions in order to implement policy correctly."

The clerk for the Board of Education, Susan Westfahl, testified about a school district administrative guideline, 3.5.5.0.0-A, which was titled " Pupil Transportation." The guideline included the following passage:

" .3.0 Field Trips, Curricular Activities, Extracurricular Activities

" .3.1 Field Trips and Curricular Activities " Arrangements for activity transportation shall be made by the Building Administrator using the Field Trip Request procedure. " When district equipment or drivers are unavailable or when it is economically advantageous to use other means of activity transportation, arrangements for hired or non- district-owned activity transportation shall be made by the building administrator. . . . . " .3.1.4 Private Vehicle " Use of private automobiles for field trips and activity transportation shall not be authorized except in such instances where drivers are fully responsible adults (over 21 years of age). Authorized drivers shall verify insurance coverage in accordance with established Kansas insurance minimums to the building principal or his designated representative."

No copy of the guideline in the record on appeal includes a subsection covering extracurricular activities such as soccer matches. Westfahl also testified that, in the 10 years she had worked for the Board, she could not recall an instance in which the Board had approved reimbursement for a student who had transported another student to a school activity.

Testimony of Tom Petz, executive director of human resource services for the school district, was submitted during the bench trial by way of transcribed deposition and exhibits. The exhibits to Petz' deposition included a school district policy, 3.5.5.0.0, titled " Pupil Transportation." It stated in part:

" Responsibility for general administration of pupil transportation programs shall be subject to the direction of the Superintendent of Schools with a delegation of responsibility through the Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs to the Director of Pupil Transportation Services. " .1.0 Equipment " Depending upon the demands of services involved, transportation shall be provided with equipment which may be: o Owned by the school district o Leased by the school district and operated by the school district itself o Contracted with a contract carrier. " .1.1 Use of Privately-Owned Cars " .1.1.1 Privately-owned cars shall not be employed by Unified School District Page 1246

#500 of Kansas City in the transportation of pupils to and from schools except as outlined in Policy 3.5.5.2.3 et seq. [dealing with exceptional students].

" .1.1.2 Privately-owned cars driven to and from school shall be subject to such rules and regulations as established by the Board of Education for the control of traffic on or around school grounds as provided by KSA 72-9101. " .2.0 Service Areas " .2.1 High Schools and Middle School " Transportation for high school and middle school pupils will be provided for those pupils living one and one-half (1-1/2) miles or more from the school by the nearest commonly traveled route. Bus stops and routes shall be so arranged as to be of maximum convenience and safety and shall be so located that no pupil eligible to be transported shall be required to walk more than .5 (1/2) miles to the nearest stop. " .2.1.1 High School Magnet Programs " A routing plan shall be established to provide transportation for students enrolled in the high school magnet program. . . . . " .3.0 Field Trips, Curricular Activities, Extracurricular Activities " When appropriate and feasible in the regular...

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4 practice notes
  • Doyle v. Nordstrom NA, 010821 KSCA, 122, 648
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 8, 2021
    ...of divorce part of the record that can be considered for appellate review. See Rodriguez v. U.S.D. No. 500, 302 Kan. 134, 144, 351 P.3d 1243 (2015); see also Supreme Court Rule 6.02(b) (2020 Kan. S.Ct. R. 34). In both the journal entry of judgment and at the hearing on&#......
  • 456 P.3d 559 (Kan.App. 2020), 118,739, State v. Ballard
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 31, 2020
    ...of the record on appeal— we cannot rely on it on to support his claims. See Rodriguez v. U.S.D. No. 500, 302 Kan. 134, 145, 351 P.3d 1243 (2015); see also Supreme Court Rule 6.02(b) (2019 Kan. S.Ct. R. 34). With no evidence to support the truth of the recantation, B......
  • State v. Ballard, 013120 KSCA, 118, 739
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 31, 2020
    ...part of the record on appeal-we cannot rely on it on to support his claims. See Rodriguez v. U.S.D. No. 500, 302 Kan. 134, 145, 351 P.3d 1243 (2015); see also Supreme Court Rule 6.02(b) (2019 Kan. S.Ct. R. 34). With no evidence to support the truth of the recantation,......
  • In re Adoption of T.M.M.H., 051118 KSSC, 115, 309
    • United States
    • Kansas United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • May 11, 2018
    ...to brief but never formally introduced as evidence or added to record); Rodriguez v. U.S.D. No. 500, 302 Kan. 134, 144, 351 P.3d 1243 (2015) (court would not rely on appendix to brief not part of the record below). We therefore do not consider the e-mail chain in our ......
4 cases
  • Doyle v. Nordstrom NA, 010821 KSCA, 122, 648
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 8, 2021
    ...of divorce part of the record that can be considered for appellate review. See Rodriguez v. U.S.D. No. 500, 302 Kan. 134, 144, 351 P.3d 1243 (2015); see also Supreme Court Rule 6.02(b) (2020 Kan. S.Ct. R. 34). In both the journal entry of judgment and at the hearing on&#......
  • 456 P.3d 559 (Kan.App. 2020), 118,739, State v. Ballard
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 31, 2020
    ...of the record on appeal— we cannot rely on it on to support his claims. See Rodriguez v. U.S.D. No. 500, 302 Kan. 134, 145, 351 P.3d 1243 (2015); see also Supreme Court Rule 6.02(b) (2019 Kan. S.Ct. R. 34). With no evidence to support the truth of the recantation, B......
  • State v. Ballard, 013120 KSCA, 118, 739
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 31, 2020
    ...part of the record on appeal-we cannot rely on it on to support his claims. See Rodriguez v. U.S.D. No. 500, 302 Kan. 134, 145, 351 P.3d 1243 (2015); see also Supreme Court Rule 6.02(b) (2019 Kan. S.Ct. R. 34). With no evidence to support the truth of the recantation,......
  • In re Adoption of T.M.M.H., 051118 KSSC, 115, 309
    • United States
    • Kansas United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • May 11, 2018
    ...to brief but never formally introduced as evidence or added to record); Rodriguez v. U.S.D. No. 500, 302 Kan. 134, 144, 351 P.3d 1243 (2015) (court would not rely on appendix to brief not part of the record below). We therefore do not consider the e-mail chain in our ......

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