Melissa T. Richardson

Managing Member
Managing Member

Phone: 859-219-9090
Fax: 859-219-9292
Email: E-mail Me

Mrs. Richardson handles all aspects of litigation with a strong focus on insurance defense, including commercial and personal lines for bodily injury, UIM/UM, and wrongful death. She also has extensive experience handling education claims, employment claims, government and municipality claims, and blasting cases.

Mrs. Richardson has tried over a dozen cases and has the distinction of being identified as the "Most Prolific Trial Attorney" in 2011, when she tried five cases to verdict. Mrs. Richardson led the list of the top twenty-five attorneys identified and was the only female to receive that distinction.

Professional Experience
Managing Member, Richardson Law Group, Lexington, Kentucky, 2024
Member, Walters Richardson, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky, 2015-2023
Member, Golden & Walters, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky, 2013-2014
Associate, Walters Meadows Richardson, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky, 2007-2013

University of Kentucky, College of Law, Lexington, Kentucky, Juris Doctor, May 2007
Centre College, Bachelor of Arts Classical Studies and History, summa cum laude, May 2004

Bar Admissions
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Kentucky 
Federal Court for the Southern District of Indiana
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
Commonwealth of Kentucky

Accomplishments, Honors, and Affiliations 
Named as a Superlawyer for the State of Kentucky
KTCR Defense Attorney of the Year (2021) (See KTRC announcement)
Centre College Alumni Board of Directors (2019-2021)
Transportation Lawyers Association (TLA) (2017 to present)
TLA Young Lawyers Committee Chairperson (2018 – 2019)
TLA Motor carrier committee (2021)
TLA Executive Committee, member at large (2020 – 2022)
TLA Annual Conference Planning Committee (2021)
TLA Annual Conference Planning Committee Co-Chair (2022)
Speaker at the Energi Summit (2017, 2019)
KLEO Mentor (2017, 2019)
DRI -- Women in Law Committee (WITL) (2015-2016)
DRI -- WITL Liaison to Legal Project Management (LPM) Committee (2016)
Selected to the 2016 Kentucky Rising Super Lawyer Stars List issued by Thomson Reuters
Kentucky Trial Court Review, Most Prolific Attorney (2015)  See KTCR report.
Member, Claims Litigation Management (2014 to present)
Member, Trial Attorneys of America (2015)
DAR Member

Representative Matters

January 2024,Graves County, KY: Shipp & Heath v. Arrowhead Camper Sales Inc
Melissa Richardson obtained a unanimous defense verdict on liability for their client, Arrowhead Camper Sales, Inc. This case involved a motor vehicle accident that occurred on October 13, 2017, in Graves County, Kentucky related to an alleged sight-line obstruction due to campers/RVs parked in Arrowhead’s parking lot. The Plaintiffs were a 16  year old woman and her grandmother, who were traveling back the grandmother’s home when they attempted to navigate the subject intersection. Video surveillance showed the 16 year old driver “rolled” through the intersection despite the presence of a stop sign and red flashing lights. Their vehicle was struck by a drunk driver, who had a BAC level three times the legal limit. The responding officer claimed the campers/RVs in Arrowhead’s parking lot created a sight obstruction at the stop bar and took photographs of the alleged obstruction. Further, after the officer obtained the video of the “rolling stop” he continued to claim the obstruction caused the accident.

The Plaintiffs were both airlifted to Vanderbilt Medical Center, with the younger Plaintiff having sustained life-threatening injuries. The 16 year old driver suffered a pelvic fracture, seven broken ribs, orbital fractures, spleen, kidney, and live lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and had an embolization procedure due to internal bleeding to save her life. She was hospitalized at Vanderbilt for a month and then transferred to Frazier Rehab in Louisville for inpatient rehab for another month before returning home. The grandmother was hospitalized at Vanderbilt for five days for injuries including: spleen laceration, five fracture ribs, and a shoulder injury that eventually led to shoulder surgery. The 16 year old had medical expenses of approximately

$700,000 and the grandmother had medical expenses of over $215,000.

The Plaintiffs alleged Arrowhead violated KRS 177.106 (encroachment onto the state right-of- way) and general negligence.  As discovery proceeded in the case, the Plaintiffs put forth fact witnesses claiming the intersection had been dangerous for 20+ years because of the campers. However, no one from the community or any state officials told Arrowhead’s owners or employees the campers were creating an obstruction at the intersection at any time. The witnesses claimed they would come to the stop sign, look, and then proceed a little further past the stop sign to gain a clear view down the highway if needed. The owner of Arrowhead testified he had probably driven through the intersection 45,000 times since 1977 and the campers never caused any visibility issue. He testified if they did create an obstruction for his, his family, or the community, he would have moved them.

The drunk driver testified at trial; he confirmed he saw the Plaintiffs’ vehicle approaching the stop sign and presumed she would stop as she did slow down. He contended the accident would not have happened if she had simply stopped.

Arrowhead hired Heath Spivey of Delta V Engineering to recreate the accident scene. Mr. Spivey’s reconstruction showed the driver had a sightline of 351 feet down the highway at the stop bar and a completely, unobstructed view of the highway of over 1,000 feet three feet ahead of the stop bar. At the time of trial, the Plaintiffs were seeking over $17 million.

After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated for an hour before returning a unanimous defense verdict in favor of Arrowhead on all counts.  See KTCR Report  See The Voice Report

December 2023, Union County, KY: Baird v. Greenwell Brothers Farm, LLC, et al.   Melissa Richardson and Zach Epperson successfully obtained a unanimous defense verdict on liability for their clients, Greenwell Brothers Farm, LLC, Thomas Randall Greenwell, and James Neal Greenwell, in a unique case involving a negligence action filed by a farm employee after he contracted a rare fungal infection. Plaintiff is a life-long farmer who was hired by Greenwell Brothers Farm as a farmhand in 2018.

In or around August 17, 2020, Greenwell Brothers underwent the task of replacing the floor of a grain bin located on the property. The Greenwells, several of the Greenwell children, and Plaintiff, among others, first removed the perforated floor of the grain bin. Thereafter, they worked to remove the grain remnants that had accumulated under the floor. The Greenwells would shovel the grain remnants into buckets, hand the bucket through an opening in the grain bin to Plaintiff who was standing outside, and Plaintiff would then empty the bucket into a wagon.  

No one wore respiratory protection while working on the grain bin. Greenwell Brothers did not require employees to use respiratory protection for this particular type of work. However, various respirators, including N-95 masks, were readily available for employees to use at their discretion. Respirators were kept in the grainery control room, the office shop, and in most service trucks, all of which were located beside of the grain bin. Greenwell Brothers contended that all employees knew where the respirators were kept and had access to them.

While Plaintiff initially denied that respiratory protection was available, he later acknowledged that he had used respirators provided by Greenwell Brothers in the past and that he could have found one had he looked. He indicated he used his extensive experience as a farmer to determine whether or not to wear a respirator. In this instance, and based on his experience, he did not believe a respirator was necessary for the grain bin project. As such, he did not use a respirator and testified that he would not have worn one if it were handed to him due to the August heat.

Less than two weeks after completing the work on the grain bin, Plaintiff was hospitalized and diagnosed with disseminated blastomycosis, a rare fungal infection caused by the organism blastomyces. Blastomyces is primarily found in soil and is endemic to the Ohio River Valley, Mississippi River Valley, and the Southeastern United States. Plaintiff alleged he inhaled blastomyces spores during the grain bin project. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the Greenwell Brothers were negligent for failing to provide proper respiratory protection and a grain vacuum. Plaintiff elicited testimony from an industrial hygienist who claimed that Greenwell Brothers should have, at a minimum, required its employees to wear half-face respirators with P-100 filters. She acknowledged that N-95 respirators were designed to protect against airborne particulates, such as grain dust; however, she would not recommend them due to the potential for leakage.

Among other things, Greenwell Brothers asserted that Plaintiff could not link his infection to the grain bin project. Plaintiff’s expert, Plaintiff’s treating infectious disease doctor, and Greenwell Brother’s expert all agreed that blastomyces spores are endemic to the area and that Plaintiff could have been exposed to blastomyces spores virtually anywhere in the general environment. This was determined to be particularly true in areas where the soil is being plowed. Plaintiff, who worked on a farm and lived on his own farm that was actively being farmed, was routinely exposed to this type of environment. Moreover, Greenwell Brothers’ expert, Dr. Keith Armitage, opined that the normal incubation period for blastomycosis is greater than 30 days. Because Plaintiff began experience symptoms less than two weeks after the grain bin project, it was unlikely that the grain bin project work was the source of the infection. Her further noted that no other employee who worked in or around the grain bin became ill. Moreover, Greenwell Brothers relied on Plaintiff’s medical records which noted that he had been losing weight, had sores on his body that would not heal, and had been feeling fatigued for a couple of months prior to the grain bin work, as all of those complaints are symptoms associated with blastomycosis. According to Dr. Armitage, this suggested that Plaintiff likely contracted his infection at least months before the grain bin project was started.   

Greenwell Brothers further contended that they complied with any duty they may have owed Plaintiff by providing N-95 respirators for employees to use on a voluntary basis. Greenwell Brothers’ agriculture operations expert, Bob McIndoo, opined that it is industry standard for farming operations to have N-95 respirators available for voluntary use when cleaning the interior of a grain bin. Additionally, Greenwell Brothers’ industrial hygienist, James McIntosh, opined that the N-95 respirators made available by Greenwell Brothers would have offered adequate protection against airborne particulates had Plaintiff chosen to wear one.

Following his infection, Plaintiff asserted that he was experiencing ongoing respiratory issues, severe depression due to his alleged inability to work, chronic headaches and migraines, ambulation issues, nausea, fatigue, and a general inability to engage in any activity without becoming sick. Plaintiff claimed that these alleged symptoms prevented him from returning to work. However, Plaintiff’s treating infectious disease doctor opined that Plaintiff had made a full recovery from his infection and there was no indication that Plaintiff should be experiencing lingering symptoms. In fact, Plaintiff’s own expert acknowledged that from a pulmonary and physical standpoint, Plaintiff was able to return to work. Further, Plaintiff had an extensive history of pre-existing health issues that were playing a role in his alleged ongoing complaints, including an extensive history of anxiety, depression, diabetes, COPD. In fact, Plaintiff had reported to his primary care physician just months before trial that his depression was in full remission and that he had been performing work outside on his house.

After a four day trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict within 30 minutes of deliberation.  See KTCR Report.  See The View Report.

2023 September, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of KentuckyRebecca Thorpe v. Board of Education of Powell County, Kentucky, et al. Melissa Richardson, Elizabeth Bass, and Zack Turpin obtained summary judgment for their clients, a Board of Education, a Superintendent, and a High School Principal, after a former employee filed a Complaint alleging wrongful termination in violation of the First Amendment, her right to Due Process, and the Kentucky Constitution. While the Plaintiff alleged she was terminated for attending a political rally, Defendants maintained she was terminated due to repeated unexcused absences and multiple instances of insubordination. In granting summary judgment for the Defendants, the Court reasoned that because Plaintiff failed to provide any evidence of a causal link between her attendance at the political rally and her termination, she could not maintain her First Amendment claim. The Court also reasoned that because Plaintiff was a non-tenured employee employed pursuant to a one-year contract, she had no continued property interest in her employment, and could not maintain a Due Process claim. Finally, the Court held that because Kentucky does not recognize the right to recover money damages for a violation of the state’s Constitution, and because Plaintiff did not seek injunctive relief or plead reinstatement as a form of relief, her claims alleging violations of the Kentucky Constitution also failed as a matter of law.

December 2021, Hardin County, KY: Gore v. Blazer’s Fun Zone, et al. Melissa Richardson and Ryan Glass obtained a defense verdict on liability for their clients. Plaintiff was a patron at an amusement venue for her grandson’s birthday. To enter the business, everyone was required to sign a waiver.  Blazer’s had an electronically signed waiver; however, Plaintiff disputed that she had ever signed one. The Judge instructed the Jury that the terms of the waiver did not preclude the lawsuit but could be used in its consideration as to the actions or inactions of Plaintiff while she was at the premises. 

During the course of the birthday party, members of the party decided to play laser tag, including Plaintiff.  Plaintiff proceeded up a significant set of stairs to enter the arena.  Plaintiff was told by the “Game Master” that there was one door in the center of the arena that was marked with the words “Emergency Exit” in neon letters, and told not to go out the emergency exit door unless there was an actual emergency.  The instruction did not include specific guidance that the other side of the door led to a landing and a set of 20 concrete stairs; Plaintiff contended that she should have been explicitly warned about the stairs even though she had obviously walked up a significant flight of stairs.  While Plaintiff initially denied being told about the presence of the emergency exit and the directive not to use it, she later admitted that some instruction was given before the game began but said she had not really heard it because the children in the group were “too loud.”  She did not ask for the instructions to be repeated or clarified.

The emergency exit stairwell was not an enclosed space.  The walls on either side did not go all the way to the ceiling of the building. The overhead lights, which, during game play were black lights, cast light into the stairwell as it effectively had no immediate ceiling.  At the bottom of the stairwell, there was a common fluorescent light that Blazer’s indicated was always on when the business was open to the public.    Further, on both of the walls that ran parallel to the landing, there were windows that allowed light into the stairwell.  In fact, Plaintiff spoke with her son through those windows just before she fell.  Specifically, she had told him that the children were “up there” and that she was “going to go up there and get them.” However, she admitted that even though she intended to go “up,” she was not really looking for a set of stairs or a ramp that would take her up to where the children were.

Instead, she indicated that she went through a door that had no signs on it – it was totally black.  While no mention of this claim was noted in her written discovery, she testified in her discovery deposition that the stairwell was “pitch black.”  When she opened the door, she admitted that she could tell that the stairwell was totally black, and she chose to enter it anyway as she believed the area to be “part of the game” based on the fact that the door was decorated to match the general theme of the arena.  Notably though, she allegedly did not see the “Emergency Exit” sign and explicitly testified that it was just a black door.  Photos from before the fall show it was not.  It is unclear how the decoration on the door which reportedly made her think the door was part of the game could have lured her into the stairwell when she claims the door she saw was just a plain black door.  Further, it was argued that the door needed more signage, but, as she allegedly did not see the sign on the door or the lit exit sign above it, it is unclear how additional signage would have made a difference.

Upon entering the allegedly pitch-black stairwell, Plaintiff indicated that she immediately fell down the stairs.  Among other claims, she contended that the light at the bottom of the stairwell was off.  However, her code expert claimed that even if the light at the bottom was on, the area did not meet the illumination requirements of the Kentucky Building Code (KBC).  This was based on the recollection of the witnesses who were there with Plaintiff and one photograph taken by a party attendee at the request of Plaintiff’s daughter-in-law that showed the light was out.  With the light at the bottom of the stairs out, Plaintiff’s code expert indicated that the illumination level was a 0.0 foot-candle.  She contended it was required to be 1.0 foot-candle.

Blazer’s contended the light at the bottom of the stairs was on as the owner saw it on during the time the EMS crew were examining Plaintiff, and that, even if it was not on, the area where Plaintiff was when she fell was certainly within the illumination levels required by the KBC.  Plaintiff’s expert and Defense expert both measured illumination levels of more than 0.02 foot-candle at the landing and the first stair.  Defense expert argued that this was the proper level of illumination that applied to this business when the laser tag game was being played.  Notably, Blazer’s expert had also measured the light in the arena, which was the same level of light that existed at the top of the stairwell to show that Plaintiff could see as she had admitted that she could see to move around the arena.  Moreover, Blazer’s relied on the fact that the stairwell had been approved by the City of Radcliff and had been inspected numerous times by the Fire Marshall without issue.

As a result of the fall, Plaintiff suffered four fractured ribs and a concussion, along with extensive bruising. Her main complaints currently are continuing issues with dizziness that prevented her from participating in many activities that she enjoyed, and, in particular, that made it impossible for her to drive.  She claims to have only driven once in the years since the fall.  Two years after the fall, Dr. David Changaris, a neurosurgeon, opined Plaintiff sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of the fall.  Plaintiff’s treating neurologist had not made such a diagnosis.  When questioned about this, Dr. Changaris indicated that a neurologist would not be capable of making such a diagnosis.  Dr. Changaris also indicated that because of her injury she would develop Alzheimer’s disease 10 years earlier than she otherwise would have.  Blazer’s expert, Dr. Richard Edelson, a neuropsychologist, testified that Plaintiff did not have a brain injury and based on his neuro-cognitive testing, she did not have a profile that was consistent with someone who had a pre-Alzheimer’s profile.  He also indicated he believed she had a pain disorder that was exacerbated by the fall and PTSD that was caused by this fall.  While he also testified that her complaints were likely real, they were also treatable; however, she had not sought any meaningful treatment options to address her ongoing symptoms. Further, Plaintiff had a host of long-term health issues that were playing a role in her ongoing complaints, most notably an extensive history of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks that, per her medical provider 10 months before the fall, impacted her life in a significant way on a daily basis.  Additionally, other medical records called into question Plaintiff’s mobility before this as she had significant complaints of pain documented one month before this fall in her back (she had surgery about 10 months before but did not get it checked by her surgeon after this fall), both hips, and her ankles/feet.

At the conclusion of the trial, eleven of the twelve jurors found for Blazer’s on liability.  See KTCR Report.

November 2021, Jefferson County, KY: Walker v. Greenwood, Inc. Melissa Richardson successfully obtained a defense verdict on liability. Plaintiff was abducted from Greenwood Bingo off Dixie Highway in Louisville by a John Doe on January 11, 2017, during a midnight bingo event operated by a charity organization. Despite having attended Bingo events at Greenwood for approximately 17 years prior to this incident and never expressing any concern for her safety while at Greenwood, Plaintiff’s theory of liability was that the crime perpetrated against her was foreseeable to Greenwood and that Greenwood had insufficient lighting and security measures in place which enabled John Doe to attack her. The Jury heard testimony about the security guard present on the premises on the night of the attack, the lighting conditions in the parking lot on and around the night of the attack, and crime data from the two years prior to the attack within a half-mile radius of the bingo hall. The Jury also heard first-hand accounts of individuals working at Greenwood on the night of the incident and their recollections of the condition of lighting in the parking lot that night. Plaintiff’s testimony reflected that she did not recall anything out of the ordinary on the night of her attack, and that she recalled the lighting did not look any different than when she had attended midnight bingo events in the past. The crime data reflected that no violent felonies, like the one perpetrated against Plaintiff, had occurred on or within a half-mile of the property in the two years prior to the January 2017 attack. As a result, the Jury found that the attack against Plaintiff was not reasonably foreseeable to Greenwood and that it did not breach its duty of ordinary care.  See KTCR Report.

February 2021, Letcher County, KY:  Kincer v. Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Melissa Thompson Richardson successfully obtained a dismissal for their client, a member of the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS), in a discrimination action brought by a former student. Following the filing of a Motion to dismiss asserting sovereign immunity with respect to Plaintiff’s claims and a hearing on same, the Court requested additional briefing regarding whether KCTCS’s sovereign immunity applied to the statutory claims asserted by Plaintiff. The additional briefing submitted by Ms. Richardson argued that KCTCS’s sovereign immunity applied both to the state and federal statutory claims asserted by Plaintiff as the General Assembly has not expressly waived its immunity with respect to such claims. Based upon this additional briefing, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims with prejudice.

May 2020, Franklin County, KY: House v. Restocon Corporation. Melissa Richardson successfully obtained summary judgment for their client, a general contractor, in a slip and fall matter occurring in an allegedly dark parking garage. Plaintiff was walking through a garage she had visited more than 50 times in the two years before she fell. At least 9 lights in the area were not functioning at the time. Plaintiff alleged the client, who was performing work in other areas of the garage, caused or contributed to the lack of lighting which in turn lead to her fall. At her deposition, Plaintiff confirmed the lights at issue had actually been out for a full year before the Defendant began working in the garage. Further, she admitted she could not affirmatively state that increased lighting would have allowed her to see the lip of the wheelchair ramp, which is what she believes she tripped on. Lastly, although the deposition of the Defendant’s corporate representative had yet to take place, the Court found that thorough and substantial written discovery, along with more than a year of litigation, provided Plaintiff with the requisite opportunity to conduct all necessary discovery to support her claims against a well-timed summary judgment motion. Plaintiff failed to establish any causal connection between the client’s work and her accident. Therefore, all claims made by Plaintiff against the Defendant were dismissed as the summary judgment motion was granted.

February 2020, Kenton County, KY: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights v. Scott’s Property Management. Melissa Richardson and Zack Turpin successfully obtained a dismissal for their client, a property management service. Plaintiff filed a Complaint with the Human Right’s Commission on July 11, 2016, based on allegedly discriminatory housing practices that led to her wrongful eviction. KRS 344.625 requires the Commission to make a probable cause determination within one hundred days of the filing of a Complaint, “unless it is impracticable to make such a determination within that time frame.” The Commission reviewed the Complaint but did not determine that probable cause of a discriminatory housing practiced existed until more than three years after the Plaintiff made her grievance. Further, the Commission offered no explanation for the delay. The Commission filed suit on Plaintiff’s behalf in Kenton Circuit Court on May 21, 2019.

KRS Chapter 344, which governs civil rights actions, modifies the traditional one year statute of limitations applicable to personal injury claims, to two years from the date of “the occurrence or the termination of an alleged discriminatory housing practice.” Not included within this two years was the time the Plaintiff’s Complaint was pending a probable cause determination with the Commission. However, KRS 344.625 required the Commission make a probable cause determination within one hundred days of filing the Complaint, unless impracticable. Therefore, Defendant successfully argued that the Commission only had two years and one hundred days to file suit beginning on the date the discrimination terminated, since the Commission offered no proof that returning a probable cause determination within one hundred days was impracticable. Additionally, the Defendant successfully argued the Commission was not an “aggrieved person” under KRS 344.650, and therefore, any suit filed by the Commission on the Plaintiff’s behalf would be subject to the one year statute of limitations applicable to traditional tort claims.

November 2019, Jefferson County, KY: Pate v. Settle. Melissa Richardson and Ryan Glass successfully obtained summary judgment for their client. Defendant rented a dumpster for his tenant to use during efforts to remediate the property.  Plaintiff was allegedly helping the tenant with the remediation efforts.  In doing so, Plaintiff placed a nightstand next to the dumpster and stood on the nightstand to make additional room in the dumpster.  No one instructed Plaintiff to do this.  Plaintiff fell off the nightstand and broke his hip.  Plaintiff alleged he was hired by Defendant to remediate one of Defendant’s rental properties. Defendant denied this.  Plaintiff filed suit alleging Defendant “retained control of a dumpster with improper and/or absent safety measures that was brought onto the property for the common use of all persons.” The Court ruled Defendant could not foresee Plaintiff would be injured by the allegedly dangerous condition that Plaintiff himself created and thus that the Defendant did not breach any duty.

August 2019, Supreme Court of Kentucky: Lewis v. Shackelford, et al. Melissa Richardson and Elizabeth Bass wrote an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Kentucky Defense Counsel in support of Defendants, King’s Daughters Medical Center and Dr. Paul Lewis, which assisted in securing a reversal in favor of Defendants. In 2010, Shackelford had a cerebral angiogram performed by Dr. Lewis at KDMC. Immediately after the angiogram, Shackelford exhibited no signs or symptoms that would suggest there were any complications with the angiogram. Later in the recovery room, Mr. Shackelford complained of a headache, which eventually resolved.  He was released home. Shackelford returned to the emergency room the next day after reportedly becoming disoriented at his home. An MRI indicated Shackelford had recently suffered a stroke.  Shackelford filed suit in Boyd Circuit Court alleging medical malpractice due to Dr. Lewis’s alleged failure to examine and diagnose the stroke after the angiogram.  Shackelford did not produce any expert opinions stating there was anything Dr. Lewis could have done to prevent the stroke or that Dr. Lewis should have anticipated that Shackelford would suffer a stroke based on his symptoms immediately following the angiogram. KDMC and Dr. Lewis filed motions for summary judgment, which were granted by the Circuit Court. The Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed, and relying on res ipsa loquator, concluded that causation did not require expert medical testimony. The Supreme Court, on discretionary review, reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision.  Instead, the Supreme Court determined expert proof was needed to pursue the claim.  Accordingly, Dr. Lewis and KDMC were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.

August 2019, Fayette County, KYJensen v. Fright Nights, LLC.  Melissa Richardson successfully obtained a unanimous defense verdict on liability.  Plaintiff fell on a haunted trail on Halloween night in 2016.  After initially telling staff she fell because she was running, she subsequently indicated she fell because she tripped on a root that she could not see because it was too dark along the forest trail.  The Jury heard testimony about the company’s safety policy that was in effect at the time, how all employees were trained on that policy, and how the policy was executed on a daily basis.  The Jury also heard about the efforts undertaken to prepare and maintain the trail each day the event was in operation (this included adding mulch daily to the trial and ensuring that the lighting along the entirety of the trail was working).  Plaintiff did not identify the root or have pictures taken of the root at any point close in time to when she fell.  Instead, Plaintiff provided the jury with a photo of the alleged root that was taken nearly a year and a half after the fall (February 2018) and at a time when Fright Nights was obviously not in operation.  Plaintiff and her boyfriend testified the photograph of the trail was “consistent with their memory” but Fright Nights’ employees and City inspectors confirmed the photograph in no way reflected what the path would ever look like when Fright Nights was operating.  As a result, the Jury found that Fright Nights did not breach its duty of reasonable care.  See KTCR Report.

January 2019, Kentucky Court of Appeals: Alexander v. Trustgard.  Melissa Richardson obtained summary judgment in Laurel Circuit Court for Trustgard Insurance Company in this third-party bad faith case.  The Judgment of the Laurel Circuit Court was affirmed by the Kentucky Court of appeals.  Plaintiff was allegedly injured in a motor vehicle accident with Trustgard’s insured.  At the time of the accident, multiple records showed Plaintiff complained of left arm pain.  Later, Plaintiff claimed right arm pain for which she underwent surgery.  Trustgard, with the aid of Plaintiff’s attorneys, then sought Plaintiff’s pre-accident medical records to determine if the right arm complaints and treatment were related to the accident.  There were multiple issues with obtaining those records and it took a while before they were received.  Throughout the underlying case, Trustgard maintained that policy limits would likely be owed if the right arm was related to the accident.  Once received, the pre-accident medical records showed that Plaintiff was complaining of right arm pain before the accident, one instance of which was only 17 days before the accident.  Plaintiff’s third-party bad faith claims asserted that Trustgard had taken an improperly long time in denying Plaintiff’s claim and that it was a tactic designed to cause Plaintiff to accept too small an amount in settlement.  The Circuit Court granted Trustgard’s Motion for Summary Judgment, finding against Plaintiff on all three elements required for third-party bad faith.  The Court held: (1) Trustgard was reasonable in questioning the relatedness of the alleged right shoulder injury and, therefore, its liability to pay for that injury under the policy was not established; (2)Trustgard never denied Plaintiff’s claim, but instead delayed deciding on the claim until the relatedness of the right shoulder could be determined; and, (3) Plaintiff failed to show that Trustgard either knew there was no reasonable basis for denying the claim or acted with reckless disregard for whether a basis existed.

2018, Kentucky Court of AppealsChilders v. Hard Shell Tactical, LLC. In a matter of first impression,  Melissa Thompson Richardson  successfully argued for a client's immunity from civil prosecution in a wrongful death matter. The Court of Appeals reversed the Circuit Court’s Order and held that Hard Shell Tactical, LLC was immune from civil prosecution under KRS 503.085.

November 2018, Powell County, KYHenson v. Estate of Turner and Bowling Trucking.  Melissa Richardson successfully obtained a unanimous defense verdict on liability on behalf of their clients, Bowling Trucking and the Estate of Charles Turner, in Powell Circuit Court.  Mr. Turner was driving down the Mountain Parkway when he entered a significant fog area.  This fog was exacerbated by smoke from area wildfires.  There was a warning sign at the top of the Mountain advising drivers of the potential for reduced visibility.  Mr. Turner slowed as a result.  He driving his loaded coal truck down the mountain at approximately 15-20 mph when he came upon two vehicles that were stopped in the roadway ahead of him.  The physical evidence shows that he made a hard braking maneuver and started to veer to the left to avoid these vehicles.  While in the process of responding to these vehicles, Mr. Turner was rear-ended by three vehicles.  The first vehicle to impact Mr. Turner’s coal truck struck it so hard that the back of the trailer came open and coal started pouring onto the vehicle and the roadway.  The lone plaintiff who proceeded to trial was driving the vehicle that first impacted Mr. Turner’s coal truck.  He alleged he was being careful and that, but for Mr. Turner stopping in the roadway, he would not have been injured.  Evidence showed that the Plaintiff was going 55 mph at the time of impact and 70 mph just two seconds before impact.  Despite a significant crash, Plaintiff had relatively minor injuries.  Nevertheless, he asked the jury for more than one million dollars in damages to compensate him for his pain and suffering.  Video footage of the road conditions was secured during the course of the litigation from a first-responder who had a dash camera.  The jurors were able to see that the conditions on the roadway became progressively worse, which was echoed by the testimony of nearly all fact witnesses.  As a result, the jury determined Mr. Turner had not acted improperly as alleged by Plaintiff.  See KTCR Report.  The Voice.

September 2018, Fayette County, KY:  Johnny Doe v. Kids House, et. al.  Melissa Richardson successfully defended their clients, a daycare, its owner, and its director. A daycare employee was in an altercation with a ten year old student. The student struck her in the eye. She angrily left the student, returned 23 seconds later, and struck the student several times.  The entire encounter was captured on videotape. Prior to trial,  the Court dismissed claims for vicarious liability, negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent retention, and negligent supervision on Summary Judgment. At the close of Plaintiffs’ case, the Court granted a Directed Verdict Motion for the $500,000 claim of emotional distress. The Court agreed that Plaintiffs had not provided sufficient expert or medical testimony to support the claim. Plaintiff still claimed $175,000 in pain and suffering and $500,0000 in punitive damages. Just prior to closing arguments, Plaintiffs requested to settle the case the amount that had been offered 14 months prior at mediation and reiterated through an Offer of Judgment that was filed shortly after mediation.

August 2018, Tangipahoa Parish, LAFarrag and Hammad  v. Sindle Trucking, Tyrone Kilgore, and HDI Gerling America Insurance.  Melissa Richardson successfully defended Sindle Trucking, its driver, Tyrone Kilgore, and its insurer, HDI Gerling America Insurance in a rear-end accident between Mr. Kilgore’s loaded tanker truck and Plaintiff Farrag’s semi.  Farrag blew a tire in May 2014 while travelling north on I-55 in Tangipahoa Parish, near Hammond, LA.  He testified that he pulled over to the shoulder to check on the tire but returned to the right lane of the roadway because he did not believe it would be safe to remain on the shoulder.  After driving at a reduced speed of 35 mph for 20 minutes, and possibly passing at least one exit, he was struck in the rear driver’s side corner of his trailer by Defendant Kilgore as he was attempting to change lanes to avoid Plaintiff’s slow moving semi.  Plaintiff contended that, because this was a rear-end accident in which Defendant Kilgore was given a traffic ticket for “careless operation,” Defendant Kilgore was 100% at fault.  Defendants argued that Plaintiff was at fault because, by his testimony, he had 20 minutes to avoid this accident by (1) remaining parked on the shoulder and waiting for a service truck, (2) taking one of the exits he likely passed, or (3) calling for an escort.   

Plaintiff reported no injury to the police and, in fact, did not start treating until two weeks after the accident.  He was initially diagnosed with sprains/strains to his neck, low back, and knees.  After receiving treatment for about six months in his home state of Tennessee, Plaintiff was cleared to return to work without any restrictions.  Plaintiff then hired an attorney from New Orleans, and subsequently began flying from Tennessee to New Orleans for treatment.  Plaintiff’s attorney referred him to Dr. F. Allen Johnson and Dr. Rand Voorhies.  He eventually underwent five surgeries with these two doctors:  two knee arthroscopies, neck fusion, low back fusion, and hardware removal.  Plaintiff incurred approximately $510,000 in medical bills. 

The jury was charged on Saturday afternoon.  After approximately an hour and a half, they returned with a decision that split fault equally between the two drivers.  $250,000 was awarded for medical expenses.  $50,000 was awarded for past physical pain and suffering.  $50,000 was awarded for past mental pain and anguish.  Plaintiff’s total verdict is $175,000.  Plaintiff Farrag’s wife, Ms. Hammad, also had a loss of consortium claim, but no damages were awarded.  In January 2017, an offer of judgment was made for $400,000.  Plaintiff’s demand at al points prior to trial never came below $3.2 M.  Plaintiffs asked the jury to award between 2.4 – 4 million.   See The Voice.  See Louisiana Trial Court Review.  See KTCR Report.

January 2018, Meade County, KY: Cassidy Daugherty v. Scared and Cornfused, Inc., a/k/a Field of Screams. Mrs. Richardson obtained a verdict in favor of an outdoor haunted attraction. Plaintiff fell at the premises and sustained two ankle fractures. Her recovery was complicated by blood clots and several surgeries. However, the Defense was able to successfully establish that Field of Screams did not breach its duty to provide a reasonably safe premises as it performed routine inspections, provided adequate lighting, and multiple warnings of potential hazards were posted, among other considerations. After this three day trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict within 20 minutes of deliberation.  See KTCR Report.

November 2017, Kentucky Court of Appeals:  Kendall v. Ralphie’s Fun CenterA/K/A Ralphie’s Properties, LLC. Ms. Kendall slipped and fell while bowling, fracturing her wrist.  She alleged the bowling alley had negligently applied oil to the lane on which she was bowling and failed to post adequate warnings about the hazard presented by the oil.  She and her attorney speculated that lane grease had bled past the foul line but presented no affirmative proof. The trial judge entered summary judgment after finding the Plaintiff had failed to sustain her burden of proof regarding causation. Plaintiff appealed. Her brief identified circumstantial evidence that she claimed supported her theory of causation.  The brief for the bowling alley responded with meticulous discussion of the trial court's record and relevant precedent.  In an opinion that in large part adopted the rationale presented the appellee's brief, the appellate court ruled the Plaintiff had failed to meet her burden of proof regarding causation.  Summary judgment was affirmed.

August 2017, Bullitt County, KY:  Richard Slawsky v. Knob Creek Gun Range, Inc.  Mrs. Richardson obtained a directed verdict on behalf of Knob Creek Gun Range.  Plaintiff was weekly year-round visitor to Knob Creek Gun Range for years prior to falling in March 2015.  At that time, he noted that the weather was snowy, icy, and cold.  He had no problems walking around the premises until he finally started to go to the firing line.  At that point, he fell and fractured his tibia, which required surgical treatment with the placement of hardware.  Plaintiff was unable to state what caused him to fall.  Directed verdict was granted on the negligence claim. See KTCR Report.

August 2017, Jefferson,KY: Geisler v. Kentucky Community and Technical College System, No. 2016-CA-001094-MR: Plaintiff was seriously injured while descending steps of a building owned by Defendant. Defendant, a state community college, first obtained dismissal in Jefferson Circuit Court on the basis of immunity. The Court of Appeals then affirmed this dismissal and agreed with the Defendant’s arguments, ultimately holding that the Defendant, as a public education entity, met the two-prong test for governmental immunity by performing a governmental function as opposed to a proprietary one. The Appellate Court also held the trial court’s citation to unpublished authority did not run afoul of the law because its opinion was first grounded in published authority, and then bolstered by citations to express holdings in an unpublished opinion.

October 2015, Owsley County, KY: This two week trial resulted in a defense verdict on liability in the case of Pam Lane and Pam Lane as Administrator of the Estate of Matthew Lane v. James Baker and W.A. Kendall Co.  On May 20, 2014, Pam Lane and her husband, Matt Lane, were driving their motorcycle on Hwy 30 in Owsley County.  The speed limit on the roadway is 55 mph but the area where the accident happened had an advisory speed of 25 mph.  Matt Lane was driving 40+ mph around a sharp, blind curve when he lost control and slid across the yellow line and under a large truck driven by James Baker.  The truck was pulling a wood chipper.  Baker saw the motorcycle lose control and immediately steered to the right, into a ditch, and up against a mountain.  Matt Lane was killed instantly.  Pam Lane had a traumatic leg amputation as a result of the accident.

Plaintiff initially claimed that Baker was in the middle of the road and that as a result, when Lane came around the curve, he was scared by the truck and laid the motorcycle down.  This theory was based on expert Joey Stidham’s belief about the position of the wood chipper upon final rest.  His theory was that if you simply backed the truck/chipper up a few feet, it would definitively prove that Baker was across the road.  Stidham attempted to create an animation to show this, but was unsuccessful in doing so (Defendants were not allowed to examine Stidham on this issue despite deposition testimony from Stidham acknowledging this fact).  Defense Expert Ken Agent pointed out the flaws in Stidham’s “innovative” theory. He indicated that the pre-impact brake marks proved that the truck was not over the center line as the truck could not have possibly gone into the ditch as quickly as it did had it been on the opposite side of the road.

After that theory failed, Joey Stidham came up with a second theory—that the brakes were defective in the truck.  Despite dismissing all estimates from Mr. Baker and other witnesses, Stidham latched on to Mr. Baker’s testimony of his best “estimate” which he also called a “guess” as to how far he was from the motorcycles when he first saw them.  The testimony of Baker was that he was 200-250 feet when he saw the motorcycles.  As a result, he believed this definitively proved that the truck’s brakes had to have been defective.  To support this, Stidham relied on his inspection of the truck that happened a year and a half later when the truck was out of service.  However, the truck passed a Level 1 inspection given by a local KVE officer on the date in question.  Mr. Stidham also stated that proof of the defective brakes was due to a lack of brake marks from the chipper.  Again, Defense expert Ken Agent pointed out the numerous problems with this.  According to Agent, the physical evidence definitively proved that the Lanes were travelling at least 40 mph and that it took them 2 seconds between the point at which they lost control and the impact with the truck.  Brake marks from the truck, both pre- and post-impact marks show the truck was traveling 23 mph and was 57 feet from the point of impact when the motorcycle lost control.  As a result, brakes—whether they were perfect or non-existent—would not have mattered.  Additionally, mechanical expert Larry Baareman of Michigan also testified that the brakes as they existed on the truck at the time of Stidham’s inspection was definitively not the condition of the brakes on the date of the accident.  However, even if they were in the same condition, the truck would have been capable of safely completing an emergency braking maneuver with no loss of braking capacity.

Plaintiffs also advanced a conspiracy theory suggesting that W.A. Kendall was trying to hide the truck/chipper involved in the accident; this was pushed due to errors in the paperwork that is done by the individual employees who use the truck involved in the accident.  It is worth noting that this truck was in fact a spare truck and was not used on a daily basis.  This truck was only used by Baker on the date in question because his other truck, ironically, was taken to the shop earlier in the day because a brake light had come on during his use of it that morning.  Plaintiffs also claimed that WMR’s hiring of Ken Agent to go to the scene the day after the accident was further proof of the conspiracy.  Plaintiffs also took issue with the non-mandatory drug test that the company administered to Baker on the night of the accident.  When the test gave negative results, the urine was poured out.  Plaintiffs claimed that the W.A. Kendall employees should have preserved the urine. See KTCR report.  See The Voice

September 2015, Perry County, KY:  Mrs. Richardson obtained a defense verdict on liability in this 3 week trial styled Slone v. Moore (12-CI-184).  On February 2, 2012, Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle travelling on Hwy 80 in Perry Co., Ky.  The driver of his vehicle, Duane Stidham, was third partied in by Mrs. Richardson's client and then Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint that included a claim for negligence against driver, Duane Stidham.  Driver then filed a claim against Mrs. Richardson's client, Linda Moore, who was driving a school bus with 8 students on it at the time of the accident.

Ms. Moore was pulling out of a small, country road across Hwy 80, in an area where that roadway is 4 lanes and a median.  Ms. Moore saw a loaded, 18-wheel coal truck coming up a long, straight hill, going approximately 25-30 mph.  The coal truck driver agreed with this.  Ms. Moore said the coal truck was near the mile-marker when she pulled out.  The coal truck driver disagreed with this—he estimated that he was anywhere from 2-3 car lengths from her to 300 feet away at the time she pulled out.  Joey Stidham, Plaintiff’s accident reconstructionist, ultimately admitted that the mile marker was more than 600 feet away.  He also said he believed that the coal truck and the Duane Stidham truck were about 350 feet away when Duane Stidham first saw the bus.

Duane Stidham and Plaintiff, Travis Slone, both said they saw the bus.  Plaintiff told Duane to “watch it,” which Duane said he did do, and then he sped up.  He was originally going 60 MPH, and his EDR in the pickup recorded that 5 seconds before the accident he was going 70; he continued to go 70 until 2.4 seconds before impact.  He ultimately slowed to 35 just before impact.  Joey Stidham admitted that Plaintiff could have stopped if he was going 60 mph and that the accident would not have happened if he had been going 55 mph.  Joey was impeached multiple times.  Joey and Plaintiff’s counsel also developed a new theory in the weeks leading up to the trial that Mrs. Richardson was unaware of until his examination—it was the theory that the speedometer in the driver’s truck was off as the tires had been changed on the truck.  This accounted for a 10-12 mph increase on the speedometer, such that when the ERD says he was going 70, he was really going 58-60.  That theory was debunked in multiple ways, not the least of which was by using Joey’s own testimony that at 60 mph, driver Duane Stidham could have stopped. 

Plaintiff sustained a broken femur, broken wrist, and a head wound.  He had 3 surgeries on his leg following and one wrist surgery.  Despite these surgeries and the installation of hardware, he had a good recovery per his surgeon.  Plaintiff was not wearing his seatbelt.  Driver was and sustained no injuries, though he claimed he hit the windshield.  The proof indicated he actually hit the airbag.  Plaintiff, claimed that his failure to wear a seatbelt would not have mattered because the driver also hit the windshield.  He originally claimed a brain injury with the assistance of Dr. Granacher.  Right before trial, that claim was formally dismissed by Plaintiff voluntarily.

Plaintiff proceeded to trial, with Joey Stidham as his recon expert and Bill Smock as his seatbelt expert.  Mrs. RIchardson did not call a reconstructionist or a seatbelt expert.  Plaintiff also brought his surgeon to trial for live testimony. 

Plaintiff requested 50 Million, 20 of which was for punitive damages. See KTCR Report.  See The Voice

April 2015, Fayette County, KYWhite v. Boyd.  On December 3, 2012, Dr. Boyd turned onto the wrong side of Man O War Blvd, and caused an accident with an oncoming vehicle in which Plaintiff was a passenger.  Dr. Boyd failed all field sobriety tests at the scene and was found to have a .164 BAC an hour and a half after the accident.  Dr. Boyd ultimately pled guilty to DUI, Assault 2nd, and Wanton Endangerment.  As a result of this accident, her medical license was investigated and subsequently suspended. The driver of the other vehicle settled for policy limits of $100,000 almost immediately.  Passenger had no notable injury but was offered policy limits of $100,000 as well, but, declined and instead brought suit.  Plaintiff sought over 2 million in compensatory damages and 2 million in punitive damages. Plaintiff’s witnesses were all impeached on a number of issues.  Most notably was the complete recantation of Dr. Crystal with respect to his vocation and impairment to earn opinions.  Ultimately Dr. Crystal—after testifying that he reviewed and relied on the medical records of the Plaintiff—testified that he was not qualified to interpret any of the medical records.  The jury was visibly and audibly astonished at his response. Nearly two and a half years later, Plaintiff proceeded to trial.  After three days of testimony, Plaintiff requested to take policy limits that had been offered pre-suit.  As a result, the case was resolved just prior to the completion of the Defendant’s proof.

March 2015, Floyd County, KY:  Maynard v. Hall. Jordan Hall fell asleep at the wheel while driving his employer’s vehicle, and, in the process, rear-ended Margie Maynard. The employer, BMM, now defunct, sold chemicals to assist with the mining industry. As a result of the employee falling asleep at the wheel, directed verdict as to Jordan Hall’s liability, represented by Richardson Law Group, was granted.  However, Ms. Richardson was still able to obtain a zero verdict for Mr. Hall and BMM as the jury did not believe that the injuries claimed by the Plaintiff were caused by the accident. See KTCR Report. 

Other Representative Matters

 After obtaining a defense verdict in favor of the defendant boater at trial in Fayette Circuit Court, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment. The Court of Appeals held that the Trial Court did not err in failing to direct a verdict in favor of the plaintiff because the evidence supported a verdict in favor of the defendant where it permitted the jury to conclude that the defendant consistently maintained a proper lookout but the plaintiff failed to do so. As such, the Trial Court did not err in refusing to conclude as a matter of law that the defendant acted negligently or breached his duty to keep a proper lookout.  Kelley v. Poore, 328 S.W.3d 683 (Ky. App 2009). See KTCR Report. 

After being awarded summary judgment by the Circuit Court, The plaintiff appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals on this slip and fall off a piece of scaffolding. The defendant had raised the open and obvious defense. On appeal the plaintiff attempted to opine that the holdings in the recently-decided McIntosh case precluded summary judgment. The Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the opinion of the Circuit Court. A motion for discretionary review was filed and subsequently denied.  Bentley v. Bentley, 2012 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 801. 

 Smith v. Turner and M & W Milling, involved a loaded grain truck that struck the plaintiff's vehicle on a two-lane road after the front, driver's side wheel of the truck literally came apart. A defense verdict was entered. The plaintiff subsequently appealed this matter, and the decision was reversed by the Kentucky Court of Appeals based largely on the fact that the inspection report proffered by the defendants was not properly admitted into evidence and that photographs of other trucks in M & W Milling's fleet were improperly admitted. A new trial was ordered by the Court of Appeals. However, this matter is currently awaiting & ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court on the Defendants' Motion for Discretionary Review.  2013 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 433. See KYTCR report

Jones v. Topf Ceramic Tile, which was tried to a unanimous defense verdict in Jefferson Circuit Court in 2012, is now pending before the Kentucky Court of Appeals. This case was premised on a contract that the plaintiff claimed was formed by this defendant by virtue of the fact that he purchased a building permit that permitted a separate contractor to perform work on the plaintiff's commercial property. The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict.  2014 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 930.

Gonzales v. Haydon Brothers Contracting, was a blasting case in Pike Circuit Court, wherein the plaintiff alleged that a rock from the blast struck him in the head. The plaintiff admitted that he heard the pre-blast warnings and that he knew the purpose of these warnings, but, nevertheless, failed to take cover. The plaintiff recovered $20,000, as compensation for his medical bills and lost wages only.  2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 721032.

Hamby v. Spurgeon and A-1 Preservation, Inc., 2011, wherein the plaintiff was awarded $700 by the Floyd County jury.  2011 Ky. Trial Ct. Rev. LEXIS 24.

McKean v. Barlow Homes, 2011, wherein a defense verdict was awarded on a slip and fall by a Fayette County jury.  2011 Ky. Trial Ct. Rev. :LEXIS 81.

French v. Clarksville Stave & Lumber Co., Ltd., which was tried before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky at Covington in 2013, involved a rollover accident that occurred after two truckers met in an S-Curve on a narrow rural road. After brief deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant.  2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 687.

Lanphear v. Westfield.  Lanphear complained of whiplash after being rear-ended by Gentry. Gentry claimed that she only hit Lanphear because a John Doe driver struck her from behind. The plaintiff blamed both Gentry and his UM carrier, Westfield Insurance, for the accident. The court issued a defense verdict on liability for Gentry; $9,600 for plaintiff against UM carrier only predicated on fault of the John Doe driver. See KTCR Report.  

Spare Time
In her spare time, Melissa enjoys working on her small farm, where she tends to her two donkeys and her dog.

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