Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Seneca Specialty Insurance Company's motions to intervene and to set aside judgment in a lawsuit filed by Dr. Neil Desai and Heta Desai against Garcia Empire, LLC after the Desais and Garcia Empire entered into a contract pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.065, holding that the requirements of the amended statute did not apply to the contract entered into by the Desais and Garcia Empire. In 2017, the legislature repealed the statute and enacted an amended section 537.065, which continued to permit the same contracts as provided in the 2016 statute but included additional requirements that an insurer be provided written notice and the opportunity to intervene. The amendment became effective after the case was tried but prior to the circuit court's entry of judgment. Seneca argued that it was denied additional rights provided for in the amendment and, as a result, the circuit court erred in entering judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the Desais and Garcia Empire entered into the contract prior to the effective date of the amended statute, the circuit court did not err in overruling Seneca's motions to intervene and to set aside judgment. View "Desai v. Seneca Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed preliminary writs issued preventing the circuit court from enforcing its orders sustaining motions to compel arbitration and stay proceedings filed by Dollar General, holding that the circuit court properly sustained Dollar General's motions to compel arbitration, stayed the cases, and ordered the parties to arbitrate the question of whether consideration existed. After Jesse Newberry and Becky Lowrance were discharged from Dollar General, they filed charges of discrimination. Dollar General filed motions to compel Newberry and Lowrance to submit their claims to arbitration and stay further proceedings on the grounds that the employees signed agreements to arbitrate. The circuit court sustained Dollar General's motions to compel. Newberry and Lowrance each sought a permanent writ of prohibition preventing the circuit court from enforcing its orders, arguing that Dollar General failed to meet its burden to show consideration supported either the employee arbitration agreements or the provisions delegating threshold issues of arbitrability to the arbitrator. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court properly sustained Dollar General's motions to compel arbitration and stay the cases. View "State ex rel. Newberry v. Honorable Steve Jackson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Appellants’ motion to compel arbitration pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 435.440.1, holding that the circuit court erred in refusing to compel arbitration on the basis that the arbitration agreement signed by the parties contained a delegation provision mandating that the arbitrator had exclusive authority to decide threshold questions of arbitrability, holding that the delegation provision was valid and enforceable. Appellant asserted in the circuit court that both the delegation provision and the agreement as a whole lacked mutual obligations and that there was no consideration for either the agreement or the delegation provision. The circuit court agreed with Appellants. The Supreme Court did not, holding that the delegation provision was a mutual promise to arbitrate any threshold questions of arbitrability which may arise, and therefore, the delegation clause was bilateral in nature, and consideration was present. View "Soars v. Easter Seals Midwest" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent its preliminary writ of prohibition sought by PPG Industries, Inc. directing the circuit court to dismiss the underlying claim against it for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over PPG. Hillboldt Curtainwall, Inc. sued PPG, a Pennsylvania-based corporation that made a product coating aluminum extrusions, for negligent misrepresentation based on PPG’s online representation on its website that Finishing dynamics as an “approved excursion applicator.” PPG filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, asserting that its website was insufficient to render it subject to the state’s personal jurisdiction. The circuit court overruled the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition, holding (1) because there was no tortious act within the state, the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over PPG; and (2) therefore, the circuit court should have sustained PPG’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. View "State ex rel. PPG Industries, Inc. v. Honorable Maura B. McShane" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Lender’s application to compel arbitration and stay proceedings on the claims brought by Borrower, holding that the plain language of the parties’ arbitration agreement showed they agreed to arbitrate before a specified, but unavailable, arbitrator and no other arbitrator. The contracts between the parties contained an arbitration agreement stating that any dispute between the parties shall be resolved by binding arbitration by the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). Thereafter, NAF entered into a consent decree requiring it immediately to stop providing arbitration services for consumer claims nationwide. After Borrower defaulted, Lender filed suit. Borrower counterclaimed. Lender moved to compel arbitration on Borrower’s counterclaim and asked the circuit court to designate a new arbitrator where NAF was unavailable as an arbitrator. The circuit court denied Lender's application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Lender made the choice to insist upon NAF, and only NAF, as the arbitration forum, Lender could not now expand the arbitration promise it extracted from Borrower in the agreement. View "A-1 Premium Acceptance, Inc. v. Hunter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment dismissing the the claims filed by the Board of Trustees of the Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank insurance Fund, by and through the Missouri attorney general (collectively, the State), against Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, holding that the appeal was timely and that the attorney general had authority to file this action on behalf of the Board. The State brought this action claiming breach of contract and, in the alternative, unjust enrichment. The circuit court sustained Pilot’s motion to dismiss for lack of standing, concluding that neither the Board nor the attorney general had authority to bring this lawsuit. The State appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under the procedural posture of this case, the State’s appeal was timely; and (2) the attorney general is authorized to sue Pilot on behalf of the Board under Mo. Rev. Stat. 27.060, and the Board had standing to sue Pilot for breach of contract. View "State ex rel. Attorney General v. Pilot Travel Centers, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Plaintiffs on their claims of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and the award of punitive damages. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in overruling its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) because Plaintiffs failed to make a submissible case as to a breach of fiduciary duty and punitive damages. Plaintiffs, in response, argued that the Supreme Court lacked appellate jurisdiction because Defendant filed an untimely notice of appeal. The Supreme Court held (1) because Plaintiffs’ motion for attorney fees was an authorized after-trial motion to amend the judgment, Defendant timely filed its notice of appeal; and (2) Defendant failed to preserve for appellate review its claims that the trial court erred in overruling its JNOV motion. View "Heifetz v. Apex Clayton, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this declaratory judgment action brought against Judge Russell E. Steele and Judge Kristie Swaim challenging two amendments to a consolidation agreement the parties entered into in 2008, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment that these two amendments were invalid and entered judgment for Judge Steele. The consolidation agreement designated Decker as the sole appointing authority for all deputy circuit clerks and division clerks. In 2013, Judge Steele signed an administrative order amending the consolidation agreement and designating the presiding judge of the Second Judicial Circuit as the appointing authority for all deputy and division clerks. In 2014, the Second Judicial Circuit approved an administrative order amending the consolidation agreement to designate Judge Swaim as the sole appointing authority. Plaintiffs filed this declaratory judgment action challenging the validity of the amendments. The circuit court entered judgment for Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the 2013 and 2014 amendments were made in compliance with the procedures to which Decker consented in voluntarily joining the consolidation agreement; and (2) therefore, Judge Steele held appointing authority over deputy and division clerks from the date of the order adopting the 2013 amendment until the date of the order adopting the 2014 amendment and transferring that authority to Judge Swaim. View "Gall v. Steele" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellant’s petition seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages against his former employer (Employer). After he was terminated, Appellant filed this action alleging that his employment agreement with Employer was void and seeking damages for allegedly wrongfully withheld commissions. Employer moved to dismiss on the ground that the agreement contained a forum selection clause providing that the sole proper jurisdiction and venue to interpret and enforce the terms of the agreement shall be the district court of Johnson County, Kansas. The circuit court dismissed the petition without prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in enforcing the forum selection clause in the agreement and dismissing the petition without prejudice. View "Reed v. Reilly Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court declined to grant mandamus relief to the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which sought a writ to compel the circuit court to stay arbitration of the Authority’s claims in its petition for a declaratory judgment and to reinstate the cause on the circuit court’s docket. The Authority, which leased a training facility to the St. Louis Rams, LLC, filed a three-count petition for declaratory judgment against the Rams seeking to void provisions in the lease. The Rams filed a motion to compel arbitration, asserting that the Authority’s claims fell within the scope of the lease’s arbitration provisions. The circuit court sustained the Rams’ motion to compel arbitration. In this original action, the Supreme Court held that the parties’ intent to arbitrate disputes involving the lease was clear and that any doubt as to arbitrability must be resolved in favor of the application of the arbitration clause. View "State ex rel. Regional Convention & Sports Complex Authority v. Honorable Michael D. Burton" on Justia Law