Justia Missouri Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Smotherman v. Cass Regional Medical Center
Plaintiff was injured after she slipped and fell in a bathroom on the premises of Cass Regional Medical Center (Defendant). Plaintiff filed a petition for damages against Defendant, and the case was tried to a jury. The jury returned a verdict for Defendant. After trial, Plaintiff’s attorney discovered that one of the jurors had Googled the weather for the day of Plaintiff’s fall. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for a new trial, alleging juror misconduct. The trial court overruled Plaintiff’s motion, concluding that the presumption of prejudice had been rebutted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiff was not prejudiced by the juror’s misconduct based on the testimony of the non-offending jurors and the record as a whole. View "Smotherman v. Cass Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law
City of Harrisonville v. McCall Serv. Stations
After discovering that petroleum from a service station’s underground storage tank had leaked and contaminated soil in the City of Harrisonville, the City filed a petition for damages against McCall Service Stations, the service station’s previous owner; Fleming Petroleum Corporation, the service station’s current owner; and the Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund. The jury returned verdicts in favor of the City on all counts and awarded the City both compensatory and punitive damages against the defendants. Thereafter, the circuit court remitted the punitive damages award against the Fund. The Supreme Court reversed the punitive damages award against the Fund and affirmed in all other respects, holding (1) because the City failed to allege cognizable claims against the Fund for actual or compensatory damages, it also cannot recover punitive damages against the Fund; but (2) the compensatory damages awarded against the Fund is not reversed because the Fund did not seek relief from that compensatory damages award. View "City of Harrisonville v. McCall Serv. Stations" on Justia Law
Peters v. Wady Industries, Inc.
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
Parr v. Breeden
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
Nevils v. Group Health Plan, Inc.
Appellant was a federal employee with a health insurance plan governed by the Federal Employee Health Benefits Act (FEHBA). Appellant filed suit against Group Health Plan, Inc. and ACS Recovery Services, Inc. (collectively, Respondents) after Respondents enforced a subrogation lien against the proceeds from Appellant’s settlement of a personal injury claim. The trial court entered summary judgment for Respondents, concluding that FEHBA preempts Missouri anti-subrogation claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that 5 U.S.C. 8902(m)(1) of FEHBA does not preempt Missouri law prohibiting subrogation of personal injury claims. The United States Supreme Court vacated the Court’s decision and remanded for a determination as to whether a new regulation promulgated by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) established the FEHBA preempts Missouri’s anti-subrogation law. The Supreme Court held that the OPM regulation did not establish that FEHBA preempts Missouri law prohibiting the subrogation of personal injury claims. Remanded. View "Nevils v. Group Health Plan, Inc." on Justia Law
Mickels v. Danrad
Joseph Mickels died from an incurable, terminal brain tumor. Mickels’ family (collectively, Plaintiffs) brought a wrongful death action against Defendant, a physician, for negligently failing to diagnose the tumor. Plaintiffs presented evidence that even though Mickels certainly would have died of his brain tumor with or without Defendant’s alleged negligence, he would not have died as early as he did had the brain tumor been properly diagnosed. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that Plaintiffs could not establish that Defendant’s negligence caused Mickels’ death so as to be actionable under Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.080.1. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that Plaintiffs cannot sue for wrongful death under section 537.080.1, but the allegations in the petition do state a cause of action for negligence that would have been actionable under Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.020 if brought by Mickels’ personal representative. Remanded. View "Mickels v. Danrad" on Justia Law
Hunter v. Moore
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
Delana v. CED Sales, Inc.
Appellant filed suit alleging that Respondents - Odessa Gun & Pawn, Charles Doleshal, and Derrick Dady - negligently sold or entrusted a gun to Appellant’s mentally ill daughter, who used the gun to kill Appellant’s husband. Appellant alleged claims for negligence, negligent entrustment, and negligence per se. The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of Respondents, concluding (1) Appellant’s negligence claim was preempted by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), (2) Appellant’s negligent entrustment claim failed to state a claim, and (3) Appellant’s individual claims against Doleshal and Dady were moot. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment to the extent it precluded Appellant from proceeding with her negligent entrustment claim but otherwise affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) did not err by entering judgment for Respondents on Appellant’s negligence claim, as the PLCAA is constitutional and preempts Appellant’s negligence claim; (2) erred in granting judgment in favor of Respondents on Appellant’s claim for negligent entrustment, as this claim is not preempted by the PLCAA and is recognized by Missouri law; and (3) erred in granting summary judgment on Appellant’s individual claims for negligent entrustment, as these claims are viable. Remanded. View "Delana v. CED Sales, Inc." on Justia Law
State ex rel. City of Grandview v. Hon. Jack R. Grate
Plaintiffs filed suit against four City of Grandview police officers alleging wrongful arrest, battery, malicious prosecution and negligence. Plaintiffs joined the City, alleging that the City was vicariously liable for the officers’ actions because the City had purchased an insurance policy that contained a provision for law enforcement liability coverage, which coverage waived the City’s rights to sovereign immunity. The City moved for summary judgment, asserting that the insurance policy disclaimed coverage for any actions that would be prohibited by sovereign immunity. The circuit court overruled the motion. Thereafter, the City sought a writ of prohibition. The court of appeals denied the writ. The City subsequently sought a writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court. The Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition that it made permanent, holding that because the insurance policy expressly disclaimed a waiver of sovereign immunity and provided coverage to the City only for those claims for which sovereign immunity has been statutorily waived, the City did not waive sovereign immunity. View "State ex rel. City of Grandview v. Hon. Jack R. Grate" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Heart of Am. Council v. Hon. Charles H. McKenzie
A few weeks before his thirty-first birthday, John Doe filed suit against the Heart of America Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the national Boy Scouts of America organization (collectively, “the Boy Scouts”), alleging that the Boy Scouts were vicariously and directly liable for childhood sexual abuse allegedly committed by Doe’s former scoutmaster against Doe. The Boy Scouts moved for summary judgment, arguing that the childhood sexual abuse statute does not provide a basis for liability for anyone other than the actual perpetrator of the abuse, that they were not directly or vicariously liable for the scoutmaster’s acts, and that Doe’s claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The trial court denied the Boy Scouts’ motions for summary judgment. Thereafter, the Boy Scouts filed a petition for writ of prohibition asking the Supreme Court to enjoin the trial court to sustain the Boy Scouts’ motions for summary judgment. The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ and here made that writ permanent, holding that the statutes of limitations for Doe’s claims against the Boy Scouts have expired, and, by its terms, Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.046 does not provide a cause of action for childhood sexual abuse against non-perpetrators such as the Boy Scouts organization. View "State ex rel. Heart of Am. Council v. Hon. Charles H. McKenzie" on Justia Law