Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri

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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

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellants’ petitions against Respondents for failure to state a claim for relief. The circuit court ruled that the petitions, which alleged, in part, the improper collection of post-judgment interest, failed to state a claim because nontort judgments automatically accrue post-judgment interest even when the judgments do not expressly award such interest. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court correctly ruled that nontort judgments automatically accrue post-judgment interest, but the petitions may have adequately stated a claim for relief against Respondents for other reasons. The court remanded the case to the circuit court to consider Appellants’ remaining claims following the dismissal of their claims related to post-judgment interest. View "Dennis v. Riezman Berger, P.C." on Justia Law

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Bishop & Associates, LLC (B&A) filed an action against Ameren Corp. and others (collectively, Ameren and the supervisors) alleging wrongful discharge in violation of public policy and other claims after Ameren terminated its relationship with B&A. The circuit court entered summary judgment for Ameren and the supervisors on all counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Missouri does not recognize a cause of action for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy for independent contractors; (2) the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment to the defendants on B&A’s claim of breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (3) Missouri case law does not support breach of contract claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy; and (4) the circuit court did not err in entering summary judgment on B&A’s tortious interference with a business expectancy claim. View "Bishop & Associates, LLC v. Ameren Corp." on Justia Law

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Owners Insurance Company issued Vicki and Chris Craig a policy with underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Vicki was injured in an accident when her vehicle was struck by a vehicle driven by another motorist. Vicki incurred damages exceeding $300,000. Shelter Insurance, which insured the at-fault motorist, paid the Craigs $50,000. The Craigs then sought from Owners $250,000, the declarations listed UIM limit amount. Owners paid the Craigs $200,000, citing the off-set provisions that allowed them to deduct the amount paid by Shelter. Thereafter, Owners sought a declaratory judgment over the disputed $50,000. The circuit court ruled that the policy was ambiguous and entered summary judgment in favor of the Craigs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the policy unambiguously provides for the $50,000 set-off, that the policy never promised to pay up to the full amount listed in the declarations, and that the declarations did not promise coverage. Remanded. View "Owners Insurance Co. v. Craig" on Justia Law

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Shelter Mutual Insurance Company issued the Swadley family a policy with underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. The policy’s declarations page listed “100,000 Per Person” as the UIM limit. After Angela Swadley was killed in a collision, the Swadleys made a claim to Shelter pursuant to their policy’s UIM coverage. When Shelter denied the claim, the Swadleys filed a petition against Shelter. The circuit court ruled that the policy was ambiguous, entered partial summary judgment in favor of the Swadleys and awarded the Swadleys $100,000. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the policy unambiguously precluded UIM coverage from applying to the Swadleys’ claim. View "Swadley v. Shelter Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Byrne & Jones Enterprises, Inc. filed an action against Monroe City R-1 School District alleging that it was denied a fair and equal opportunity to compete in the bidding process for a public works contract to build an athletics stadium. The trial court dismissed the petition, concluding that Byrne & Jones, as an unsuccessful bidder, lacked standing to challenge the school district’s award of the contract to another bidder because it did not bring the action in the interest of the public or as a taxpayer. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Byrne & Jones had standing to challenge the award of the contract to another bidder; but (2) the trial court did not err in dismissing the petition because Byrne & Jones was not entitled to the relief requested in the petition. View "Byrne & Jones Enters., Inc. v. Monroe City R-1 Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a negligence action against Defendant and Defendant's employer, a motel, to recover for injuries Plaintiff sustained while staying at the motel. The parties entered a settlement agreement, but the parties disputed some terms of the agreement. Plaintiff filed a separate action against Defendant seeking specific performance and reformation of the written instrument and asking the court to add to disputed terms that Plaintiff claimed the parties agreed to but mistakenly failed to reduce to writing. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff and reformed the written agreement to require Defendant to preclude Defendant’s insurer from controlling the defense of Plaintiff’s negligence claims and to cooperate with Plaintiff in the negligence action “either by agreeing to a consent judgment or having an uncontested hearing on liability and damages.” The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment as modified, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the trial court’s judgment reforming the written instrument to include the disputed terms but that the parties did not intend for Defendant to enter a consent judgment. View "Hunter v. Moore" on Justia Law