Justia Missouri Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
Theroff v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court overruling Dollar Tree's motion to compel arbitration and stay proceedings on a former employee's claim of disability discrimination, holding that the order was supported by substantial evidence, was not against the weight of the evidence, and correctly applied the law. After Plaintiff, Dollar Tree's former employee, brought this complaint Dollar Tree filed a motion to compel arbitration and stay proceedings under an arbitration agreement in the employment contract. The parties, however, disputed whether there was assent to the arbitration agreement. The circuit court denied the motion to compel arbitration after hearing testimony but did not make any findings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no clear and unmistakable evidence of the existence of assent to a delegation provision, and therefore, the circuit court could not delegate the matter to an arbitrator whose existence depended upon the agreement. View "Theroff v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc." on Justia Law
State ex rel. Key Insurance Co. v. Honorable Marco A. Roldan
The Supreme Court quashed this Court's preliminary writ of prohibition, holding that the issuance of the writ of prohibition sought by Key Insurance Company directing the circuit court to dismiss claims filed against it by Josiah Wright and Phillip Nash for lack of jurisdiction would be inappropriate. After arbitration, Wright filed a lawsuit against Key and Nash seeking to collect insurance proceed's from Nash's child's insurance policy. Nash filed a cross-claim against Key alleging that Key breached its contractual duty to defend him. Key filed a motion to dismiss the claims for lack of jurisdiction. The circuit court overruled the motion. Key then sought a writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court. The Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition, which it then quashed, holding that where there had been no showing that the circuit court’s usurpation of jurisdiction was "clearly evident" and Nash adequately pleaded facts in his cross-claim that established personal jurisdiction, the issuance of a writ of prohibition would be inappropriate. View "State ex rel. Key Insurance Co. v. Honorable Marco A. Roldan" on Justia Law
Sophian Plaza Ass’n v. City of Kansas City, Missouri
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court holding the City of Kansas City in civil contempt of a 1976 modified judgment, holding that the parties could not bring a contempt action to enforce the 1976 modified judgment because they were not parties to the litigation and the 1976 plaintiffs were not certified as a class. Sophian Plaza Association and a class of similarly situated plaintiffs brought claims of breach of injunction, breach of contract, specific performance, and civil contempt stemming from the City's termination of a trash rebate program. The court certified a class and then entered judgment in favor of the class on its claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the class could not avail itself of enforcement proceedings brought upon the 1976 modified judgment because they were not parties to the litigation nor were the 1976 plaintiffs certified as a class under Mo. R. Civ. p. 52.08. View "Sophian Plaza Ass'n v. City of Kansas City, Missouri" on Justia Law
Desai v. Seneca Specialty Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Seneca Specialty Insurance Company's motions to intervene and to set aside judgment in a lawsuit filed by Dr. Neil Desai and Heta Desai against Garcia Empire, LLC after the Desais and Garcia Empire entered into a contract pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.065, holding that the requirements of the amended statute did not apply to the contract entered into by the Desais and Garcia Empire. In 2017, the legislature repealed the statute and enacted an amended section 537.065, which continued to permit the same contracts as provided in the 2016 statute but included additional requirements that an insurer be provided written notice and the opportunity to intervene. The amendment became effective after the case was tried but prior to the circuit court's entry of judgment. Seneca argued that it was denied additional rights provided for in the amendment and, as a result, the circuit court erred in entering judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the Desais and Garcia Empire entered into the contract prior to the effective date of the amended statute, the circuit court did not err in overruling Seneca's motions to intervene and to set aside judgment. View "Desai v. Seneca Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts
State ex rel. Newberry v. Honorable Steve Jackson
The Supreme Court quashed preliminary writs issued preventing the circuit court from enforcing its orders sustaining motions to compel arbitration and stay proceedings filed by Dollar General, holding that the circuit court properly sustained Dollar General's motions to compel arbitration, stayed the cases, and ordered the parties to arbitrate the question of whether consideration existed. After Jesse Newberry and Becky Lowrance were discharged from Dollar General, they filed charges of discrimination. Dollar General filed motions to compel Newberry and Lowrance to submit their claims to arbitration and stay further proceedings on the grounds that the employees signed agreements to arbitrate. The circuit court sustained Dollar General's motions to compel. Newberry and Lowrance each sought a permanent writ of prohibition preventing the circuit court from enforcing its orders, arguing that Dollar General failed to meet its burden to show consideration supported either the employee arbitration agreements or the provisions delegating threshold issues of arbitrability to the arbitrator. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court properly sustained Dollar General's motions to compel arbitration and stay the cases. View "State ex rel. Newberry v. Honorable Steve Jackson" on Justia Law
Soars v. Easter Seals Midwest
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Appellants’ motion to compel arbitration pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 435.440.1, holding that the circuit court erred in refusing to compel arbitration on the basis that the arbitration agreement signed by the parties contained a delegation provision mandating that the arbitrator had exclusive authority to decide threshold questions of arbitrability, holding that the delegation provision was valid and enforceable. Appellant asserted in the circuit court that both the delegation provision and the agreement as a whole lacked mutual obligations and that there was no consideration for either the agreement or the delegation provision. The circuit court agreed with Appellants. The Supreme Court did not, holding that the delegation provision was a mutual promise to arbitrate any threshold questions of arbitrability which may arise, and therefore, the delegation clause was bilateral in nature, and consideration was present. View "Soars v. Easter Seals Midwest" on Justia Law
State ex rel. PPG Industries, Inc. v. Honorable Maura B. McShane
The Supreme Court made permanent its preliminary writ of prohibition sought by PPG Industries, Inc. directing the circuit court to dismiss the underlying claim against it for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over PPG. Hillboldt Curtainwall, Inc. sued PPG, a Pennsylvania-based corporation that made a product coating aluminum extrusions, for negligent misrepresentation based on PPG’s online representation on its website that Finishing dynamics as an “approved excursion applicator.” PPG filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, asserting that its website was insufficient to render it subject to the state’s personal jurisdiction. The circuit court overruled the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition, holding (1) because there was no tortious act within the state, the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over PPG; and (2) therefore, the circuit court should have sustained PPG’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. View "State ex rel. PPG Industries, Inc. v. Honorable Maura B. McShane" on Justia Law
A-1 Premium Acceptance, Inc. v. Hunter
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Lender’s application to compel arbitration and stay proceedings on the claims brought by Borrower, holding that the plain language of the parties’ arbitration agreement showed they agreed to arbitrate before a specified, but unavailable, arbitrator and no other arbitrator. The contracts between the parties contained an arbitration agreement stating that any dispute between the parties shall be resolved by binding arbitration by the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). Thereafter, NAF entered into a consent decree requiring it immediately to stop providing arbitration services for consumer claims nationwide. After Borrower defaulted, Lender filed suit. Borrower counterclaimed. Lender moved to compel arbitration on Borrower’s counterclaim and asked the circuit court to designate a new arbitrator where NAF was unavailable as an arbitrator. The circuit court denied Lender's application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Lender made the choice to insist upon NAF, and only NAF, as the arbitration forum, Lender could not now expand the arbitration promise it extracted from Borrower in the agreement. View "A-1 Premium Acceptance, Inc. v. Hunter" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Attorney General v. Pilot Travel Centers, LLC
The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment dismissing the the claims filed by the Board of Trustees of the Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank insurance Fund, by and through the Missouri attorney general (collectively, the State), against Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, holding that the appeal was timely and that the attorney general had authority to file this action on behalf of the Board. The State brought this action claiming breach of contract and, in the alternative, unjust enrichment. The circuit court sustained Pilot’s motion to dismiss for lack of standing, concluding that neither the Board nor the attorney general had authority to bring this lawsuit. The State appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under the procedural posture of this case, the State’s appeal was timely; and (2) the attorney general is authorized to sue Pilot on behalf of the Board under Mo. Rev. Stat. 27.060, and the Board had standing to sue Pilot for breach of contract. View "State ex rel. Attorney General v. Pilot Travel Centers, LLC" on Justia Law
Heifetz v. Apex Clayton, Inc.
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