Lawsuit Updates

Updated Sept. 18, 2018

On Sept. 5, the Library received notice that the plaintiffs in Coleman, et al, had filed a request to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaintiffs contend that they have been denied due process by the Kentucky courts. The Court of Appeals in 2015 established, in a harmonization of two existing laws, a new procedure for Kentucky’s libraries to follow in setting their tax rates. The plaintiffs hold that this procedure should have been anticipated and followed by the Library in the years prior to 2015. Since the courts have not allowed the plaintiffs to apply for refunds in prior years, they contend that they have been denied due process. The Library holds that it followed the law as written, as advised, and as upheld by the Kentucky courts. The Library could not have anticipated the procedures set up in 2015.

“We’re disappointed that the lawsuit continues to drag on,” said Cathy Howard, board president. “We look forward to this matter being concluded so that the library can focus on its mission of serving the community.”

The Library will file a response to the plaintiffs and expects a decision on whether to hear the case from the U.S. Supreme Court in the first months of 2019.

Summary/Overview

  • A lawsuit was filed in Jan. 2012 by three Campbell County citizens that held public libraries should be following Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 173.790, which became law in 1964. That stature requires the Library’s tax rate to be raised or lowered by petition.  The Library contested that tax rates must be adjusted annually, according to KRS 132, in order to produce approximately the same revenue as the previous tax year.  KRS 132 became law in 1965 in order to control the revenue of taxing districts.  The same statute outlines procedures for adopting rates that would produce additional revenue.  All taxing districts, not simply libraries, follow KRS 132.
  • In April 2013, Campbell Circuit Court ruled in the plaintiff’s favor. The Library filed an appeal.
  • On March 19, 2015, the Kentucky Court of Appeals unanimously ruled the Library acted in good faith in using KRS 132 in determining its annual tax rates but directed that future increases that would produce revenue in excess of a 4% increase would have to be secured through petition. Read the Kentucky Court of Appeals March 19 decision. {PDF}
  • On April 20, 2015, the litigants against the Library filed a Motion for Discretionary Review with the Kentucky Supreme Court.
  • On Dec. 10, 2015, the Kentucky Supreme Court let stand the decision of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
  • On Feb. 8, 2016, the Library moved for summary judgment to end all remaining issues as the central matter had been resolved by the Court of Appeals in the Library’s favor and all remaining issues hinged on that decision.
  • On March 18, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a motion asking the Campbell County Circuit Court to consider the Court of Appeals’ decision retroactive and to order a refund for previous tax years. The Library countered and stated that the Court of Appeals intended its new harmonization of the conflicting statutes to be applied only to future tax years.
  • On Sept. 16, 2016, Campbell County Circuit Court Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward ruled that the Court of Appeals’ decision should be considered prospectively only, upholding the Library’s position. Read Judge Ward’s Sept. 16 decision. {PDF}
  • In March 2017, the litigants filed an appeal with the Kentucky Court of Appeals asking for Judge Ward’s decision to be reversed.
  • On Jan. 2, 2018, the Kentucky Court of Appeals unanimously concurred that the March 2015 of the Court of Appeals was prospective only as the Court’s harmonization of KRS 173 and KRS 132 could not have been followed in the past and the Library acted in good faith by following KRS 132 as directed by the Executive Branch. Read the January 2018 Court of Appeals decision. {PDF}
  • On Jan. 26, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Discretionary Review with the Kentucky Supreme Court. The Library filed its response on Feb. 23, 2018, and is now waiting on the Court’s decision on hearing the case.
  • On June 6, 2018, the Kentucky Supreme Court declined to reconsider the Appellate Court’s ruling and denied the Motion for Discretionary Review submitted by the plaintiffs. Read the order from the Kentucky Supreme Court. {PDF}
  • On Sept. 5, 2018, the plaintiffs in Coleman, et al, filed a “Petition for Writ of Certiorari” with the U.S. Supreme Court contending that they were denied due process by the Kentucky courts.  Kentucky’s courts, in five separate decisions, have held that the Library was correct in relying upon KRS 132 in setting its tax rates.

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