Articles Posted in Contracts

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Owners Insurance Company issued Vicki and Chris Craig a policy with underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Vicki was injured in an accident when her vehicle was struck by a vehicle driven by another motorist. Vicki incurred damages exceeding $300,000. Shelter Insurance, which insured the at-fault motorist, paid the Craigs $50,000. The Craigs then sought from Owners $250,000, the declarations listed UIM limit amount. Owners paid the Craigs $200,000, citing the off-set provisions that allowed them to deduct the amount paid by Shelter. Thereafter, Owners sought a declaratory judgment over the disputed $50,000. The circuit court ruled that the policy was ambiguous and entered summary judgment in favor of the Craigs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the policy unambiguously provides for the $50,000 set-off, that the policy never promised to pay up to the full amount listed in the declarations, and that the declarations did not promise coverage. Remanded. View "Owners Insurance Co. v. Craig" on Justia Law

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Shelter Mutual Insurance Company issued the Swadley family a policy with underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. The policy’s declarations page listed “100,000 Per Person” as the UIM limit. After Angela Swadley was killed in a collision, the Swadleys made a claim to Shelter pursuant to their policy’s UIM coverage. When Shelter denied the claim, the Swadleys filed a petition against Shelter. The circuit court ruled that the policy was ambiguous, entered partial summary judgment in favor of the Swadleys and awarded the Swadleys $100,000. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the policy unambiguously precluded UIM coverage from applying to the Swadleys’ claim. View "Swadley v. Shelter Mutual Insurance Co." 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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Plaintiff brought a negligence action against Defendant and Defendant's employer, a motel, to recover for injuries Plaintiff sustained while staying at the motel. The parties entered a settlement agreement, but the parties disputed some terms of the agreement. Plaintiff filed a separate action against Defendant seeking specific performance and reformation of the written instrument and asking the court to add to disputed terms that Plaintiff claimed the parties agreed to but mistakenly failed to reduce to writing. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff and reformed the written agreement to require Defendant to preclude Defendant’s insurer from controlling the defense of Plaintiff’s negligence claims and to cooperate with Plaintiff in the negligence action “either by agreeing to a consent judgment or having an uncontested hearing on liability and damages.” The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment as modified, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the trial court’s judgment reforming the written instrument to include the disputed terms but that the parties did not intend for Defendant to enter a consent judgment. View "Hunter v. Moore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Injury Law

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Plaintiff purchased a manufactured home from Defendant. The contract between Plaintiff and Defendant included an arbitration clause. Plaintiff later sued Defendant alleging fraud, negligence, breach of contract, and negligent misrepresentation. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss or to stay the court action and to compel arbitration. Plaintiff opposed arbitration, arguing that the arbitration agreement lacked mutuality and was unconscionable on multiple grounds. The trial court overruled Defendant’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the agreement’s “anti-waiver clause” was unconscionable and invalid, but the anti-waiver provision could be severed; (2) Plaintiff’s remaining objections did not render the contract as a whole unconscionable; and (3) absent the anti-waiver clause, the contract was not unconscionable. View "Eaton v. CMH Homes, Inc." on Justia Law

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Randy Spalding filed suit against Stewart Title Guaranty Company, alleging breach of contract and vexatious refusal to pay in regard to a title insurance policy. After a jury trial, the circuit court entered an amended judgment in favor of Spalding. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in (1) overruling Stewart Title’s motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict where the title insurance policy was not time barred and where Spalding made a submissible case as to the existence and amount of the damages for the breach of contract; (2) refusing to give Stewart Title’s proposed instruction concerning its statute of limitations defense; (3) admitting evidence from an appraiser in regard to damages sustained from the title defect under the policy; and (4) giving a certain jury instruction regarding the measure of damages. View "Spalding v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co." on Justia Law

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In 2000, Plaintiff purchased a lot in a subdivision being developed by Markirk Construction, Inc., of which Kirk Jones was president. The next year, Plaintiff completed construction of a home on the lot. In 2009, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants, alleging fraudulent misrepresentation in connection with the negotiation and sale of the lot. The jury found in favor of Jones. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that it had to find Jones knew that the alleged misrepresentations were false when he made them. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly instructed the jury that Defendant’s alleged representations concerned future events, and therefore, in order for Plaintiff to recover, Jones must have made these representations with knowledge when they were made that the representations were false. View "Stevens v. Markirk Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lillian Lewellen brought an action against Chad Franklin National Auto Sales North, LLC (National) and its owner, Chad Franklin, for fraudulent misrepresentation and unlawful merchandising practices under the Missouri Merchandising Practice Act. A jury awarded Lewellen actual damages of $25,000, assessed jointly and severally against both defendants. The jury also awarded Lewellen $1 million in punitive damages against Franklin and National on both counts. Pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 510.265, the circuit court reduced the punitive damages awards against Franklin and National to $500,000 and $539,050, respectively. Lewellen appealed her punitive damages award, claiming that her constitutional right to trial by jury was violated when the trial court reduced the punitive damages award on her fraudulent misrepresentation claim against Franklin. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment in all respects except for the portion applying section 510.265 to the punitive damages award assessed against Franklin for fraudulent misrepresentation, holding that the mandatory reduction of Lewellen’s punitive damages award against Franklin under section 510.265 violated Lewellen’s right to a trial by jury. View "Lewellen v. Franklin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law, Contracts

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When Respondent was promoted from her position was an hourly employee to a salaried managerial position at one of Appellants’ long-term care facilities, the parties signed an employment agreement and arbitration agreement. Appellants later terminated Respondent from her position. Respondent filed a class action lawsuit against Appellants seeking compensation for allegedly unpaid overtime hours. Appellants filed a motion to compel arbitration, but the circuit court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Respondent’s continued at-will employment and Appellants’ promise to resolve claims through arbitration did not provide valid consideration to support the arbitration agreement. View "Baker v. Bristol Care, Inc." on Justia Law

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Patrick O’Basuyi filed suit against several defendants (collectively, “TriStar”) for breach of contract, quantum meruit and fraudulent conveyance. TriStar responded by filing a counterclaim for malicious prosecution. O’Basuyi filed a motion for separate trial of TriStar’s counterclaims. The trial court overruled the motion for separate trial, determining that Mo. R. Civ. P. 55.06, which governs joinder of claims, authorized its denial of O’Basuyi’s motion for separate trial of the malicious prosecution claim. O’Basuyi subsequently sought a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the request writ, holding (1) Rule 55.06 does not permit either joinder or trial of a malicious prosecution counterclaim with the underlying claim; and (2) therefore, the trial court erred in permitting the joint trial of the defendants’ counterclaim and O’Basuyi’s claims. View "State ex rel. O'Basuyi v. Hon. David Lee Vincent III" on Justia Law