Melissa T. Richardson

Partner
Partner

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
Member, Walter Meadows Richardson, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky, 2015-present
Member, Golden & Walters, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky, 2013-2014
Associate, Walters Meadows Richardson, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky, 2007-2013

Education
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
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 
Speaker at the Risk Management Summit (2017)
KLEO Mentor (2017)
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
Recipient of 2 Golden Gavels for Outstanding Trial Advocacy from Westfield Insurance Company, 2011 and 2012
Kentucky Trial Court Review "Most Prolific Attorney," 2011
Presenter, Kentucky Blasting Conference, 2013
Member, Defense Research Institute, 2011 to present
Member, Trial Advocacy Board's National Team, 2007
Kentucky Intrastate Mock Trial Tournament Winner, 2007
American Trial Lawyers' Association Regional Semifinalist, 2006
Member, Trial Advocacy Board, 2005-2007
Member, Moot Court Board, 2005-2007
Recipient, Golden & Walters Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy, 2007
Recipient, Peter Pearlman Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy, 2006
DAR Member

Representative Matters

January 2018, Meade County, KY: Cassidy Daugherty v. Scared and Cornfused, Inc., a/k/a Field of Screams. Mrs. Richardson and Mr. Pettijohn 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 and Mr. Dawson 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.

July 2017, Laurel County, KY: Alexander v. Trustgard.  Melissa Richardson, Michael LaCourse, and Chad Wadlington obtained summary judgment for Trustgard Insurance Company in this third-party bad faith case.  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 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.   

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 Walters Meadows Richardson, 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. Wesfield.  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.
 

Location: 
Lexington Office