Justia Missouri Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Commercial Law
Bridgecrest Acceptance Corp. v. Donaldson
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
Sun Aviation, Inc. v. L-3 Communications Avionics Systems, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed in part the circuit court’s judgment in favor of Sun Aviation, Inc. on the complaint filed by L-3 Communications Avionics Systems, Inc. for violations of various provisions of the Merchandising Practices Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. 407.010 et seq. When L-3’s parent company underwent a consolidation process, the parent decided to terminate L-3’s distributorship with Sun, and directed L-3 to do so. Sun then filed an action against L-3. The court held (1) L-3’s gyros and power supplies did not fit the definition of “industrial, maintenance and construction power equipment” as applicable in the Industrial Maintenance and Construction Power Equipment Act and the Inventory Repurchase Act; (2) the circuit court erred in entering judgment in favor of Sun on L-3’s fraudulent concealment claim because the circuit court erred in determining that L-3 had a duty to disclose its parent company’s consolidation plans; and (3) the circuit court erred in awarding eighteen years of lost profits as damages on the count alleging violations of the Franchise Act. The court remanded the case for a new trial on damages and affirmed the judgment in all other respects. View "Sun Aviation, Inc. v. L-3 Communications Avionics Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
First Bank v. Fischer & Frichtel, Inc.
This case involved the question of how the amount of a deficiency owed by Fischer & Frichtel Inc, a commercial debtor, after a foreclosure sale of its property should be measured. The trial court submitted an instruction directing the jury to award the difference between the amount of the debt and the property's fair market value at the time of the foreclosure sale. The court then granted First Bank's motion for a new trial in light of its showing that Missouri case law instead requires the deficiency to be determined by the difference between the debt and the amount received at the foreclosure sale. The Supreme Court affirmed after discussing Missouri common law, which requires that the deficiency should be measured by the amount received at the foreclosure sale, but if the sale price is so inadequate as to raise an inference of fraud, then the foreclosure sale can be voided. View "First Bank v. Fischer & Frichtel, Inc." on Justia Law
Fannie Mae v. Truong
After My Truong's home was foreclosed on, a trustee's sale was held, and Fannie Mae purchased Truong's home. Despite the sale, Truong continued to maintain possession of his home. Fannie Mae filed a petition for unlawful detainer. The circuit court granted Fannie Mae's motion for summary judgment and awarded Fannie Mae $6,000 in damages. Truong appealed, challenging the constitutional validity of Mo. Rev. Stat. 534.010, among other things. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that Truong's failure to apply for a trial de novo pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 512.180.1, prior to seeking relief in the Supreme Court, deprived the Court of the authority to adjudicate his claims. View "Fannie Mae v. Truong" on Justia Law
Emerson Elec. Co. v. Marsh & McLennan Cos.
Insured appealed the circuit court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to Broker on Insured's claims that Broker violated a fiduciary duty of loyalty to Insured by not disclosing that Broker received contingent commissions from Insurers for directing Insured's business to them and that Broker kept all interest earned on the premiums Insured sent it between the time Broker received them and the time they were forwarded to the Insurers. In addition, Insured argued that Broker breached a duty to find it the least costly policy possible. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) brokers do not have a duty to find insureds the lowest possible cost insurance available to meet their needs; (2) Missouri law specifically authorizes a broker to receive commissions from the insurer and to deposit premiums in an account pending their payment to the insurer or refund to the insured; but (3) the trial court erred by dismissing the petition because it could not be said as a matter of law that Emerson could not recover on one or more of its claims. Remanded. View "Emerson Elec. Co. v. Marsh & McLennan Cos." on Justia Law
CACH, LLC v. Askew
CACH, LLC, a debt collector, brought an action against Jon Askew for an alleged outstanding debt owed by Askew. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of CACH and against Askew. Askew appealed, contending that CACH did not properly demonstrate that it had been assigned the debt in question and that the circuit court improperly admitted an exhibit based on the business records exception to the hearsay rule. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the disputed exhibit was erroneously admitted into evidence by the circuit court under the business records exception; (2) without admission of the exhibit into evidence, CACH failed to provide any competent evidence of the alleged assignment of Askew's account to CACH; and (3) without evidence of the validity of this assignment, CACH did not demonstrate it had standing to pursue the claim. View "CACH, LLC v. Askew" on Justia Law
Hargis v. JLB Corp.
JLB Corporation, a mortgage brokering service, entered into an agreement with Bonnie Hargis to refinance her home. JLB then prepared Hargis's loan application and other financial disclosure documents. JLB alleged it played no role in drawing the note or deed of trust, which were prepared by third parties, and it did not charge for their preparation. Hargis, however, filed a three-count petition against JLB, alleging, inter alia, that JLB engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of JLB on all counts. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the grant of summary judgment to JLB as to the first two counts relating to the unauthorized practice of law where the record showed that JLB assisted Hargis only in preparing financial documents and did not show that JLB procured or assisted in the drawing of Hargis' note, deed of trust, or other legal documents; and (2) reversed the grant of summary judgment to JLB on the third count alleging unjust enrichment, as JLB's summary judgment motion failed to negate any element of Hargis' unjust enrichment claim. Remanded. View "Hargis v. JLB Corp." on Justia Law
Wehrenberg, Inc. v. Dir. of Revenue
Wehrenberg, Inc. operated a restaurant-style concession offering hotdogs, pizza, and similar items at four of its movie theaters. Wehrenberg charged its customers the four percent state sales tax imposed by Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.202. Wehrenberg then filed a sales tax refund claim with the Director of Revenue, asserting that the concession items should have been taxed at the one percent rate set forth in Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.014. The Director and the AHC denied the claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the food for sale at Wehrenberg's concession stands was not intended for home consumption, the one percent state sales tax rate set forth in section 144.014 did not apply to Wehrenberg's food sales. View "Wehrenberg, Inc. v. Dir. of Revenue" on Justia Law