Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

by
A Bank provided loans to owners of eight condominium units. All eight owners became delinquent on their loans to the Bank and failed to make timely payments on the property owners’ association’s (POA) assessments. The Bank foreclosed on its deeds of trust and purchased all eight properties. The POA demanded payment from the Bank for all new assessments on the properties it purchased and demanded that the Bank pay past due assessments. The Bank sought relief by filing a declaratory judgment action and an action for monetary damages caused by the POA’s alder of the Bank’s title to the properties. The trial court entered partial summary judgment in favor of the Bank, declaring that the Bank was not obligated to pay past due assessments by the POA on properties the Bank purchased at a foreclosure sale. The trial court certified its order for immediate appeal and reserved judgment on Bank’s slander of title count. The POA appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that it lacked the authority to review the trial court’s partial judgment because the judgment did not dispose of a distinct judicial unit, and therefore, it was not a final judgment for purposes of Mo. Rev. Stat. 512.020(5). View "First National Bank of Dieterich v. Pointe Royale Property Owners' Association, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Russel Parker, an Indiana resident, brought a personal injury action against Norfolk Southern Railway Company, a Virginia corporation, under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, alleging cumulative trauma sustained during his years of employment with Norfolk in Indiana. Norfolk moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction alleging that Missouri had no personal jurisdiction. The trial court overruled the motion without stating the grounds for its ruling. Norfolk sought a writ of prohibition directing the trial court to dismiss the suit. The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition, which it subsequently made permanent, holding that Missouri did not have specific or general personal jurisdiction over Norfolk in the underlying personal injury action. View "State ex rel. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Hon. Colleen Dolan" on Justia Law

by
When Plaintiff’s utility terrain vehicle (UTV) overturned the roof of the UTV failed and caused Plaintiff injuries. Plaintiff sued Chesterfield Valley Sports, Inc. (Defendant). Prior to trial, Plaintiff designated Herbert Newbold as an expert witness. Plaintiff then rescinded Newbold’s expert witness designation without disclosing Newbold’s expert analysis or conclusions. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion to amend the scheduling order to permit Newbold’s deposition. Plaintiff objected, asserting that Newbold’s opinions and conclusions were protected from discovery by the work product doctrine. The trial court sustained Defendant’s motion, concluding that Plaintiff had waived the protections afforded by the work product doctrine by designating Newbold as an expert witness. Plaintiff subsequently filed the instant petition for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition, which it made permanent, holding (1) designating an expert witness does not, standing alone, irrevocably waive the protections afforded by the work product doctrine; and (2) in this case, there was no disclosing event that waived the work product privilege. View "State ex rel. Malashock v. Honorable Michael T. Jamison" on Justia Law

by
Heartland Title Services, Inc. filed a petition in the circuit court of Jackson County alleging professional malpractice claims against Paul Hasty and Hasty and Associates, LLC (collectively, Hasty). Hasty filed a motion to dismiss Heartland’s professional malpractice claim for lack of venue, arguing that the tort injury alleged occurred outside Missouri. The circuit court dismissed the count for lack of venue. Heartland sought relief in the Supreme Court with this original proceeding in mandamus. The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ and then made permanent the preliminary writ, holding that venue was proper in any county in Missouri, including Jackson County. View "State ex rel. Heartland Title Services, Inc. v. Honorable Kevin D. Harrell" on Justia Law

by
The Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund sued, alleging that Phillips improperly obtained reimbursement from the Fund. Wagoner, a participant in and potential claimant against the Fund (RSMo 319.138) moved to intervene and tendered a motion to dismiss. The court entered an interlocutory order overruling Wagoner’s motion to intervene. Wagoner did not seek an immediate appeal. The trial court entered a final judgment approving a settlement between the Fund and Phillips and dismissing the case with prejudice. Wagoner timely appealed. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed, first holding that Wagoner complied with Rule 81.08(a) because he specified the only judgment from which he had a right to appeal, the final judgment. The court properly denied intervention. Wagoner’s motion did not articulate a specific, legally protectable interest in the subject matter of the suit. Even if Wagoner had demonstrated that he had a legally protectable interest in the suit and that his ability to protect that interest without intervening is impaired or impeded, Wagoner failed to show that the Fund’s Board of Directors would not adequately protect his interest without intervention. Wagoner does not allege that the Board’s pursuit of its claim was fraudulent, collusive, or a breach of its fiduciary duties. View "Mo. Petroleum Storage Tank Ins. Fund Bd. of Directors v. ConocoPhillips Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

by
Sanford purchased CenturyLink's internet and phone services. CenturyLink’s “Internet Services Agreement” contains a mandatory arbitration clause for “any and all claims, controversies or disputes of any kind.” Months later, Sanford filed a class action, alleging that CenturyLink violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, RSMo 407.020, by charging a “Universal Service Fund Surcharge” on high-speed internet services. The court ordered the parties to conduct discovery solely on the issue of arbitrability and subsequently denied arbitration, citing the issue of consideration On August 18, 2014, 39 days after entry of the order, CenturyLink filed a notice of appeal under RSMo 435.440. The Supreme Court of Missouri dismissed. Section 435.4401 makes orders denying arbitration immediately appealable. Under Rule 81.04(a), any such appeal must be filed “not later than 10 days after the judgment or order appealed from becomes final.” CenturyLink was incorrect in believing that, under Rule 81.05(a)(1), the 10-day period did not begin to run until 30 days after the court entered its order. Rule 81.05(a)(1) delays the effective date of a judgment for 30 days so that the trial court has continuing jurisdiction to modify or amend its ruling before it becomes final and appealable. An interlocutory order, however, remains interlocutory throughout the case (Rule 74.01(b)). The fact that a statute makes an interlocutory order appealable does not make Rule 81.05(a)(1) applicable; it is not a judgment or dispositive order. View "Sanford v. CenturyTel of Mo., LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

by
Curt and Cheri Peters filed a personal injury action against Patrick Terrio, alleging that Mr. Peters was injured at work because Terrio, a supervisory co-employee, was negligent. Peters and Terrio were employed by Tramar Contracting, Inc., a company that specialized in providing services and products to general contractors in the construction industry. Among its services, Tramar delivered dowel baskets, which are 200-pound rebar paver baskets used in concrete construction, manufactured by Wady Industries. Wady Industries shipped the dowel baskets to Tramar stacked, one on top of the other, without warning, bracing, or other precautionary measures. Upon arriving at Tramar, the dowel baskets were kept in this stacked manner in a staging area until they were needed. A row of baskets fell from a flatbed truck onto Peters, causing permanent and catastrophic injuries. The trial court dismissed the Peterses’ claims against Terrio, finding they failed to allege Terrio owed Peters a duty outside of their employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace. The Peterses appealed, asserting that their petition alleged sufficient facts to support a common law negligence action against Terrio. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the Peterses pleaded facts establishing only duties that were a part of the employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace; their petition failed to state a negligence cause of action against Terrio. View "Peters v. Wady Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

by
While driving a commercial motor vehicle for his employer, Kevin Parr was killed when his truck was involved in a single-vehicle accident. Plaintiffs, Parr’s two children and father brought a wrongful death action against three of Parr’s supervisory co-employees, Charles Breeden, Wendy Cogdill, and Melany Buttry. The circuit court entered judgment on the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. On appeal, plaintiffs asserted that the circuit court erred in granting judgment in favor of the defendants because there was a genuine dispute of material fact as to the defendants’ negligence as well as to whether the defendants breached duties that arose from federal regulations that are separate and distinct from the employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace for all employees. After review, the Missouri Supreme Court found that the duties plaintiffs alleged defendants owed to Parr were part of their employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace. Further, federal regulations did not prove the existence of a personal duty separate and distinct from the employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace. Because plaintiffs failed to establish that defendants owed Parr a duty separate and distinct from the employer's nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment. View "Parr v. Breeden" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs the Missouri Municipal League, the City of Springfield, and Richard Sheets appealed a circuit court's judgment for the State on plaintiffs' challenge to the constitutional validity of two bills passed by the General Assembly. In 2013, the General Assembly passed House Bill 331 and House Bill 345, which repealed and enacted in lieu thereof numerous sections dealing with local government control over telecommunications infrastructure permitting and public right-of-way. Later that year, a circuit court ruled H.B. 331 and H.B. 345 were enacted in violation of procedural requirements of the Missouri Constitution. The State appealed the circuit court's judgment to the Missouri Supreme Court. With the State's appeal still pending, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 649 and Senate Bill 650 in early 2014. S.B. 649 and S.B. 650 repealed and enacted in lieu thereof some of the same sections as had H.B. 331 and H.B. 345 and, in doing so, set forth the text of H.B. 331 and H.B. 345 as the then-existing law for the relevant sections with proposed changes noted. Two days before S.B. 649 and S.B. 650 became effective (and two days before the Supreme Court dismissed the State's appeal in the H.B. 331 and H.B. 345 case), plaintiffs brought suit challenging S.B. 649 and S.B. 650 under the Missouri Constitution. Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, claiming: (1) the contents of the bills violated article I, section 13's prohibition against retrospective laws; article III, section 40(28)'s prohibition on special laws, and article X, section 21's prohibition on unfunded mandates; and (2) the bills were enacted in violation of article III, section 28. The State moved to dismiss the substantive claims, and both sides moved for a judgment on the pleadings for the enactment claims. The circuit court sustained the State's motions, and plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the State was entitled to judgment on the pleadings on this claim. View "Missouri Municipal League v. Missouri" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff was sixty-one years old when his employment with the Kansas City Chiefs was terminated. Plaintiff was replaced by a younger worker. Plaintiff filed a petition in the circuit court alleging a single act of age discrimination on the day of his termination. In pretrial proceedings, the trial court denied Plaintiff’s request to have testimony presented to the jury from numerous nonparty former employees over age forty who were either fired or pressured to resign and their job duties were assumed by younger replacements. The jury ultimately returned a verdict in favor of the Chiefs. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that the trial court (1) misapplied the legal standard for admission of evidence by so-called “me too” witnesses and abused its discretion in excluding “me too” evidence offered by the former employees; and (2) erred in excluding evidence concerning a discriminatory age-related statement allegedly made by a Chiefs executive and in quashing a deposition order issued to the Chiefs’ chairman and chief executive officer. Remanded. View "Cox v. Kansas City Chiefs Football Club, Inc." on Justia Law