Articles Posted in Missouri Supreme Court

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After a trial, Defendant was convicted of misdemeanor criminal nonsupport. Defendant appealed, contending that the trial court erred in overruling his motion for judgment of acquittal claiming Mo. Rev. Stat. 568.040 violated his due process rights because it forced him to disprove an element of the offense. Specifically, Defendant asserted that section 568.040 was unconstitutional because it makes lack of good cause an element of the crime of criminal support but then shifts the burden of proving good cause to the defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, holding (1) the statute makes lack of good cause an element of the offense that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) sufficient evidence supported the trial judge's conclusion that Defendant's failure to pay the ordered child support was without good cause. View "State v. Holmes" on Justia Law

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The Director of Revenue determined that Jonathan Eilian underpaid his 2006 Missouri taxes because he used his federal "net operating loss" (NOL) to offset income that was taxable under Missouri law but not taxable under federal law. Eilian brought a complaint before the Administrative Hearing Commission challenging the Director's decision. The Commission ruled in favor of Eilian. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Brown Group Inc. v. Administrative Hearing Commission was dispositive of the legal issues in this appeal and precluded Eilian from using his NOL to offset all of his Missouri-taxable income. Remanded to the Commission to recalculate Eilian's Missouri tax liability for 2006. View "Eilian v. Dir. of Revenue" on Justia Law

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After the St. Louis Public School District (SLPS) became unaccredited in 2007 and was operated by the Transitional School District of St. Louis, some parents sought to have their children obtain Mo. Rev. Stat. 167.131 transfers that would enable the children to attend school in the Clayton school district. The parents (Plaintiffs) also requested that the transitional school district pay for their children's education in Clayton. The trial court held in favor of the school districts (Defendants). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 167.131, the "Unaccredited District Tuition Statute," was applicable to the transitional school district and required that it pay Plaintiffs' children's tuition costs for attending Clayton. On remand, the trial court allowed taxpayers from Clayton and SLPS to intervene. The trial court found in favor of Defendants, holding that section 167.131 was unenforceable as applied to Defendants because (1) it violated the Hancock Amendment of the Missouri Constitution, and (2) Defendants' compliance with the statute was impossible. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 167.131, as applied to Defendants, did not violate the Hancock Amendment; and (2) the trial court erred in finding it would be impossible for Defendants to comply with the requirements of the statute. Remanded. View "Breitenfeld v. Sch. Dist. of Clayton" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff's young son was injured by an uninsured motorist while he was a passenger in his daycare provider's van. Plaintiff filed a petition on behalf of her son against the daycare provider's insurance company, Shelter Mutual, alleging that her child was an "insured" under the uninsured motorist provisions of the policy. The policy defined "insured" to include owners, operators, and other users who exercise physical control of the right of control of the vehicle. The trial court granted summary judgment to Shelter. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the uninsured motorist statute requires coverage of all passengers within the definition of "user." The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's child was not an insured because (1) Plaintiff's child was not included in the definition of "insured" under the policy itself; (2) the financial responsibility law implies coverage as a matter of law in a policy for owners, operators and users to the extent that liability may be imposed on them under Missouri law for damages arising out of such ownership, operation, or use; and (3) Plaintiff's child did not come within this scope of coverage. View "Steele v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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A port authority sought to purchase a parcel of land owned by trustees of a family trust. After negotiations failed, the port authority filed a petition for condemnation of the parcel. The trustees argued that the sole purpose for the taking was economic development, in violation of Mo. Rev. Stat. 523.271, and that the taking was for private use, in violation of the Missouri Constitution. The circuit court ordered condemnation hearing, concluding (1) the taking did not violate section 523.271 because the taking would facilitate construction of a loop track and improve river commerce in addition to promoting economic development; and (2) the taking served the public purpose of promoting economic development. The trustees petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the writ because the circuit court failed to find any purpose for the taking that was not included in the legislature's definition of "economic development," and therefore, held that the proposed taking was in excess of the port authority's condemnation authority. View "State ex rel. Jackson v. Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to first degree assault and armed criminal action (ACA). Defendant subsequently filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Mo. R. Crim. P. 24.035, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court dismissed the motion as untimely filed because Defendant filed it within 180 days of his delivery to the department of corrections for his first degree assault sentence, which triggered the period in which he could file a post-conviction relief motion challenging that conviction and sentence. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the triggering event was Defendant's previous delivery to the department of corrections to serve his ACA sentence imposed in the same judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in dismissing Defendant's motion as to his claim of ineffective assistance of plea counsel because the claim was not timely filed; and (2) Defendant's claim that his counsel at his probation revocation hearing on his assault conviction was ineffective was not cognizable in a Rule 24.035 proceeding. View "Swallow v. State" on Justia Law

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The marriage of Father and Mother was dissolved in 2005, and Father and Mother were awarded joint legal and physical custody of their only child. In 2008, the trial court modified the custody and support provisions of the original judgment. In 2009, Father filed a motion to modify, alleging that a modification was justified due to Mother's numerous refusals to comply with the 2008 judgment. Specifically, Father requested that the court grant him sole legal and physical custody of the child as well as other modifications. The court continued the parties' joint legal and physical custody but imposed new custody terms (2009 judgment). Mother appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Mother was not entitled to a new trial because the trial court failed to appoint a guardian ad litem in the modification proceedings; (2) the trial court properly considered all of the best interest factors before it in its 2009 judgment; and (3) the trial court's modification clarifying its 2009 judgment was supported by good cause. View "Soehlke v. Soehlke" on Justia Law

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Veteran filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits alleging that he sustained an injury during the course of his employment with Employer. Veteran received care and treatment for that injury at a United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility, which Employer did not authorize. The VA petitioned for a writ to compel the chief ALJ to allow the VA's intervention in the proceeding, claiming entitlement to intervene as a matter of right under 38 U.S.C. 1729 and the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause. The circuit court denied the VA's petition. The Supreme Court reversed and issued a permanent writ of mandamus, holding that section 1729 and the supremacy clause gave the VA the right to intervene in Veteran's workers' compensation claim to assert its claim for recovery of health care provided to him. View "U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs v. Boresi" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against West County Motor Company for violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) and for conversion. Each plaintiff paid a deposit to West County to secure the purchase of a vehicle and signed a vehicle buyer's order providing that "all deposits are non refundable." However, all plaintiffs but one alleged that West County told them their deposits were refundable if the purchase was not completed. When Plaintiffs decided not to purchase their vehicles, West County told them their deposits would not be refunded. The trial court dismissed the MMPA claims for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the trial court's dismissal of that portion of Plaintiffs' claims alleging violations of the MMPA based on violations of Mo. Rev. Stat. 364.070.4; and (2) reversed the trial court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims alleging violations of the MMPA based on conversion, lack of good faith, and an illegal liquidated damages clause, as Plaintiffs' allegations of conversion, unlawful liquidated damages, and lack of good faith were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. View "Ward v. W. County Motor Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The City of St. Louis passed ordinances authorizing a redevelopment plan proposed by Northside Regeneration. Plaintiffs filed a petition requesting a preliminary judgment to prevent the City and Northside from moving forward with the redevelopment plan. The trial court denied the request and set the case for trial. Intervenors subsequently intervened and filed a petition for declaratory judgment alleging that the redevelopment plan was in violation of and contrary to conditions set forth in Mo. Rev. Stat. 99.820, et seq. The trial court entered a declaratory judgment voiding the ordinances that authorized a tax increment financing plan to redevelop the property. The judgment declared the ordinances void because of the lack of a defined redevelopment project and cost-benefit analysis of such projects. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the judgment to the extent that it invalidated the ordinances for failure to include a sufficiently specific redevelopment project or a cost-benefit analysis of such projects, as the judgment went beyond the scope of the pleadings; and (2) affirmed the judgment in all other respects. View "Smith v. City of St. Louis" on Justia Law