Justia Missouri Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the administrative hearing commission (AHC) finding beyond Housing, Inc. and Pagedale Town Center II, LLC (PTC II) qualify for sales and use tax exemptions as charitable organizations pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.030.2(19), holding that the AHC's decision was proper.On appeal, the director of the department of revenue argued, among other things, that the HAC erred in determining that Beyond Housing and PTC II could qualify as a charitable organization because Beyond Housing was previously granted civic exemptions and, the director claimed, the statutory categories of charitable and civic exemptions are mutually exclusive classifications. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the AHC did not err in finding Beyond Housing and PTC II qualified for the charitable exemption; and (2) the AHC’s determination that Beyond Housing and PTC II qualified for sales and use tax exemptions as charities was supported by competent and substantial evidence and comported with the law. View "Beyond Housing, Inc. v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Barbara and Alexis Branch on the Central Trust Bank's petition for a deficiency judgment in relation to a promissory note and security agreement financing the Branches' vehicle, holding that the circuit court erred.The Bank's pre-sale notice of disposition in this case stated the vehicle would be sold at a private sale. The circuit court, however, held that the dealer-sonly auction at which the vehicle was sold was a public sale and that the Bank failed to provide the Branches with "reasonable notification" after the sale of the vehicle. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court's finding that the Branches did not receive any pre-sale notice of the disposition was not supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the circuit court misstated the law when it required the Bank to provide the Branches with "reasonable notification" of the sale of the collateral. View "Central Trust Bank v. Branch" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) that the purchases by Carfax, Inc. of certain equipment used to create vehicle history reports (VHRs) were exempt from sales and use taxes under Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.030.2(5) and 144.054.2 because Carfax used such equipment to "manufacture" VHRs, holding that Carfax did not use the equipment in the "manufacturing" of its VHRs.After an audit, the Director of Revenue determined that Carfax did not use the disputed equipment to manufacture VHRs, and therefore, its purchase of that equipment was not exempt from sales and use taxes. On appeal, the AHC found that Carfax's purchases of the equipment were exempt from sales and use taxes under both sections 144.303.2(5) and 144.054(2) because Carfax used that equipment directly in manufacturing VHRs. The Supreme Court vacated the decision below, holding that, for purposes of these statutes, Carfax did not use the disputed equipment to manufacture VHRs. View "Carfax, Inc. v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court issuing a permanent writ of mandamus in favor of Jim Swoboda, holding that the circuit court's decision was erroneous because Swoboda failed to establish that he was entitled to mandamus relief.Swoboda filed a charge of discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights against his employer and Armstrong Teasdale, LLP (the Law Firm), alleging retaliation, disability, and aiding and abetting as types of discrimination he faced in retaliation for participating in a discrimination case brought by another officer. The Commission determined that it lacked jurisdiction over the matter because there was no employer-employee relationship between Swoboda and the Law Firm. The circuit court issued a writ of mandamus finding that the Commission erred in dismissing the charge without first taking certain steps. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the issuance of mandamus relief was foreclosed where, rather than seeking to enforce a previously delineated right, Swoboda attempted to adjudicate whether his claim was permissible under applicable statutes. View "State ex rel. Swoboda v. Missouri Commission on Human Rights" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court that the solar energy system owned by Springfield Solar 1, LLC was tax-exempt as a "solar energy system not held for resale" pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 137.100(10), holding that the statute is unconstitutional because the Missouri Constitution does not grant the legislature the power to exempt solar energy systems not help for resale from taxation.Springfield Solar appealed the Assessor for Greene County's 2017 assessment of its solar energy system (the equipment), arguing that the equipment was tax-exempt under section 137.100(10), which states that solar energy systems not help for resale are exempt from taxation for state, county, and local purposes. The Commission concluded that the equipment was exempt from taxation under section 137.100(10). The Assessor filed a petition for judicial review, arguing that the Commission's decision was unlawful. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Springfield Solar, finding that the statute was constitutional. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the tax exemption created by section 137.100(10) is unconstitutional. View "Johnson v. Icet" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Son's action alleging that Daughter engaged in an abuse of process by filing a suit to invalidate portions of the Phyllis Schlafly Revocable Trust, holding that the petition contained sufficient allegations regarding the elements of an abuse of process claim.Son and Daughter were the children of Phyllis Schlafly (Mother). After Mother died, Daughter filed a third lawsuit seeking to void amendments to the trust due to incapacity and undue influence (the Trust Suit). Daughter voluntarily dismissed the Trust Suit with prejudice three years later. Thereafter, Son filed an amended petition alleging abuse of process. The circuit court dismissed the petition for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court's dismissal was erroneous because Son alleged sufficient facts to support the elements of an abuse of process claim. View "Schlafly v. Cori" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission denying Claimant's claim for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits from the Second Injury Fund, holding that the Commission appropriately found that Claimant was not permanently and totally disabled.Claimant filed an amended workers' compensation claim against Employer, alleging that his primary work-related injuries were "bilateral upper extremities" and asserting a claim against the Fund for PTD benefits due to a prior injury to his bilateral lower extremities. An administrative law judge denied PTD benefits, and the Commission affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Claimant failed to carry his burden of persuasion in demonstrating that he was entitled to PTD benefits. View "March v. Treasurer of Missouri" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the rulings of the circuit court denying Bridgecrest Acceptance Corporation's motions to dismiss or stay the counterclaims against it and to compel the matters to arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement, holding that the arbitration agreement was legally valid, conscionable, and not precluded by collateral estoppel.In two separate cases, Bridgecrest sought a deficiency judgment against consumers who had defaulted on car payments. The consumers brought counterclaims, raising putative class claims for unlawful and deceptive business practices. Bridgecrest moved to stay or dismiss the consumers' counterclaims and compel arbitration pursuant to the arbitration agreements signed by the consumers when buying their vehicles. The circuit court overruled the motions in both cases. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in refusing to compel arbitration. View "Bridgecrest Acceptance Corp. v. Donaldson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against Independence School District alleging that he had been fired in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim, in violation of Mo. Rev. Stat. 278.780, holding that the general assembly expressly waived whatever immunity the school district might have had.In dismissing Plaintiff's complaint, the circuit court found that the school district enjoyed sovereign immunity from Plaintiff's workers' compensation retaliation claim. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that workers' compensation claims are authorized against the school district because the legislature included state and political subdivisions such as school districts as employers for purposes of the Workers' Compensation Law. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that, considered together, sections 278.780 and Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.030 reflect an express showing of legislative intent to waive the school district's sovereign immunity for Plaintiff's workers' compensation retaliation claim. View "Poke v. Independence School District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's medical malpractice case without prejudice for failure to file an affidavit of merit within 180 days pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.225, holding that there was no error.On appeal, Appellant argued (1) section 538.225 violates multiple provisions of the Missouri Constitution, (2) the defense of failure to file an affidavit of merit was waived, and (3) he substantially complied with the statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's constitutional claims were without merit; (2) section 538.225 is not an affirmative defense that can be waived if not pleaded in an answer; and (3) to the extent substantial compliance with section 538.225 is possible, Appellant failed to substantially comply. View "Giudicy v. Mercy Hospitals East Communities" on Justia Law