Justia Missouri Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Brentwood Glass filed a petition against the County and several other defendants, asserting, inter alia, a mechanic’s lien claim against all defendants for unpaid work on a construction project and an action against St. Louis County for failing to require a public works construction bond mandated by Mo. Rev. Stat. 107.170. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on the mechanic’s lien claim. The County also asserted it was entitled to summary judgment on the bond claim because section 107.170 did not apply. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Defendants.The Supreme Court reversed judgment on the mechanic’s lien claim and affirmed in all other respects, holding (1) the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment on the lien claim for lack of proof of notice, and genuine issues of material fact existed preventing summary judgment on the lien claim; and (2) judgment was proper on Brentwood Glass’s bond claim against the County. View "Brentwood Glass Co. v. Pal's Glass Serv., Inc." on Justia Law
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After discovering that petroleum from a service station’s underground storage tank had leaked and contaminated soil in the City of Harrisonville, the City filed a petition for damages against McCall Service Stations, the service station’s previous owner; Fleming Petroleum Corporation, the service station’s current owner; and the Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund. The jury returned verdicts in favor of the City on all counts and awarded the City both compensatory and punitive damages against the defendants. Thereafter, the circuit court remitted the punitive damages award against the Fund. The Supreme Court reversed the punitive damages award against the Fund and affirmed in all other respects, holding (1) because the City failed to allege cognizable claims against the Fund for actual or compensatory damages, it also cannot recover punitive damages against the Fund; but (2) the compensatory damages awarded against the Fund is not reversed because the Fund did not seek relief from that compensatory damages award. View "City of Harrisonville v. McCall Serv. Stations" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of first-degree assault and armed criminal action. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his challenge during voir dire to one of the prosecutor’s peremptory strikes under Batson v. Kentucky because the prosecutor failed to offer a race-neutral explanation for striking the venireperson. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s convictions, holding that the trial court clearly erred in denying Defendant’s Batson challenge where the prosecutor failed to offer a reasonably specific and clear race-neutral explanation for the strike. Remanded. View "State v. Meeks" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of burglary and four counts of stealing. Three of the four stealing counts were charged as felonies - one count for each of two firearms stolen and one count for rings stolen. The convictions stemmed from Defendant’s act of breaking into two residences and stealing items of property from each residence. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Defendant’s stealing convictions for the theft of the firearms must be classified as misdemeanors because they cannot be enhanced to felonies by the terms of Mo. Rev. Stat. 570.030.3; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in failing to grant a mistrial due to testimony regarding the composition of a photograph lineup. View "State v. Bazell" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of first-degree statutory rape and incest. The convictions were affirmed on appeal. Appellant subsequently filed a pro se Mo. R. Crim. P. 29.15 motion for post-conviction relief. The motion contained thirteen claims and was stapled to an amended Rule 29.15 motion that raised five ineffective assistance of counsel claims. The motion court denied post-conviction relief. Appellant appealed, arguing that the motion court’s judgment did not adjudicate all of the incorporated pro se claims. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the motion court’s failure to adjudicate all claims in the motion resulted in the lack of a final judgment. View "Green v. State" on Justia Law
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In April 2015, the Missouri General assembly passed House Bill 150 (HB 150), which made changes to Missouri’s unemployment benefits compensation statutes. The Governor subsequently vetoed HB 150. In September 2015, during a veto session, the Missouri Senate reconsidered HB 150 and voted to override the governor’s veto. Appellants filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that HB 150 is unconstitutional and requested an injunction prohibiting HB 150 from being executed or enforced. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Senate lacked authority to vote to override the Governor’s veto during the veto session because only bills returned by the Governor on or after the fifth day before the end of the regular legislative session can be taken up during a September veto session. View "Pestka v. State" 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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Respondent, a former police officer with the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD), filed a complaint against SLMPD, the Saint Louis Board of Police Commissioners (Board), and related individuals, alleging that Defendants retaliated against her in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Respondent. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in tendering Instruction No. 8 to the jury because the instruction confused the facts regarding Respondent’s disability claim and misdirected the jury about the Board’s legal authority to refuse Respondent’s disability pension application, and Defendants were prejudiced by the instruction’s submission. Remanded. View "Ross-Paige v. Saint Louis Metro. Police Dep’t" on Justia Law

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Appellant, who was employed by the Missouri Department of Corrections as a corrections officer, was involved in a workplace accident. Appellant filed a claim for workers’ compensation seeking reimbursement from the Department for medical expenses. The Labor and Industrial Relations Commission denied Appellant’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits, finding that Appellant was involved in a workplace accident but that Appellant did not prove that the accident was the “prevailing factor” causing his medical condition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Appellant proved by substantial and competent evidence that his workplace accident was the prevailing factor causing his medical condition. View "Malam v. State, Dep’t of Corr." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a petition for a private way of necessity over properties owned by the Creekstone Homeowners Association and certain individuals (collectively, the Creekstone parties) and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC). The Creekstone parties and MHTC filed motions to dismiss Plaintiff’s petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed Plaintiff’s petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s claim against the Creekstone parties was barred by Mo. Rev. Stat. 228.341, which provides that the statutes authorizing private ways of necessity do not apply to roads created by or included in a recorded plat referencing a declaration creating an owner’s association; and (2) Plaintiff’s claim against MHTC was barred because no statute authorizes private ways of necessity across public lands. View "Avery Contracting, LLC v. Niehaus" on Justia Law