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Bishop & Associates, LLC (B&A) filed an action against Ameren Corp. and others (collectively, Ameren and the supervisors) alleging wrongful discharge in violation of public policy and other claims after Ameren terminated its relationship with B&A. The circuit court entered summary judgment for Ameren and the supervisors on all counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Missouri does not recognize a cause of action for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy for independent contractors; (2) the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment to the defendants on B&A’s claim of breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (3) Missouri case law does not support breach of contract claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy; and (4) the circuit court did not err in entering summary judgment on B&A’s tortious interference with a business expectancy claim. View "Bishop & Associates, LLC v. Ameren Corp." on Justia Law

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Carl Kirk was committed to the custody of the Department of Mental Health under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), Mo. Rev. Stat. 632.480 through 632.525. On appeal, the court of appeals transferred the case to the Supreme Court on the ground that the appeal involved issues within the Supreme Court’s exclusive appellate jurisdiction as set forth in Mo. Const. art. V, section 3. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the issues raised in this case did not fall within the Supreme Court’s exclusive appellate jurisdiction, and even thought he court of appeals erred in transferring the case, the Supreme Court granted transfer prior to opinion pursuant to Rule 83.01 and therefore had jurisdiction; (2) the SVPA, among other things, evidences no punitive intent and violates no constitutional prohibits against ex post facto laws, and the standard of proof required under the SVPA and employed in Kirk’s case is not unconstitutional; and (3) Kirk’s remaining claims of error were unavailing. View "In re Care & Treatment of Kirk" on Justia Law

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Robert Johnson brought a products liability case against Cottrell Inc. and Auto Handling Corp. At the conclusion of Johnson’s case the trial court directed a verdict in favor of Auto Handling on all of Johnson’s theories against it. The jury returned verdicts in favor of Johnson on his claims against Cottrell of negligence as submitted in Instruction 10 and of strict liability failure to warn as submitted in Instruction 13. The trial court entered judgment against Cottrell on the negligence verdict for $1,150,332. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court erred in granting Auto Handling’s motion for directed verdict; and (2) Instruction 10 was error, and because the error was prejudicial the judgment in favor of Johnson on his negligence claims against Cottrell is reversed. Because of the intertwined nature of the evidence and the various theories against the two defendants, the case is remanded for retrial as to the negligent maintenance and inspection claim against Auto Handling and as to Johnson’s negligence claims and strict liability failure to warn claim against Cottrell. View "Johnson v. Auto Handling Corp." on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of two counts of sale of a controlled substance and one count of unlawful possession of firearms. Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief. The motion was premature because it was filed prior to a determination on appeal whether the judgment of conviction would be affirmed. After Defendant’s conviction was affirmed, Defendant filed a second postconviction motion alleging that the trial court erred in rejecting his speedy trial claim. The motion court dismissed the postconviction motion as “successive.” The Supreme Court vacated the dismissal of Defendant’s second postconviction and remanded, holding that, under the unusual facts of this case, the motion court should have treated the second motion as timely and as incorporating the first pro se motion. View "McKay v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was committed to the custody of the Department of Mental Health under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), Mo. Rev. Stat. 632.480 through 632.525. On appeal, the court of appeals transferred the case to the Supreme Court on the ground that the appeal involved issues within the Supreme Court’s exclusive appellate jurisdiction. For the reasons set forth in In re Care & Treatment of Kirk, __ S.W.3d __ (Mo. 2017), decided also on this day, Defendant’s constitutional claims were “merely colorable” and did not invoke the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction. However, the court, on its own motion, granted transfer from the court of appeals prior to opinion pursuant to Rule 83.01 and therefore had jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s constitutional claims that the purpose and effect of the SVPA is punitive are rejected; and (2) Defendant’s remaining claims on appeal were unavailing. View "In re Care & Treatment of Nelson" on Justia Law

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The circuit court did not abuse its discretion in overruling Christine Delf’s motion to enforce her plea agreement or in failing to permit Self to withdraw her guilty plea, as the court’s ruling comported with Mo. R. Crim. P. 24.02(d). Delf pleaded guilty to forgery pursuant to a plea agreement. Delft later filed a writ of mandamus challenging the circuit court’s decision to overrule her motion to enforce her plea agreement or, in the alternative, to withdraw her guilty plea, arguing that the circuit court lacked the authority to impose special conditions of probation she argued were excluded by the plea agreement. The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition, which it subsequently quashed, holding that the circuit court followed the procedure set forth in Rule 24.02 by accepting the binding plea agreement the parties reached and imposing the sentence Delf bargained for with the state. View "State ex rel. Delf v. Honorable Darrell E. Missey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant, who was charged with multiple sex offenses, moved to disqualify the prosecuting attorney on the grounds that the prosecutor’s office obtained and disclosed phone calls made by Defendant to his attorneys from the county jail. The trial court overruled the motion but appointed a retired judge as special master to review the jail phone call files and to receive future recorded jail calls. After the special master carried out these orders the trial court ordered that the county pay the special master’s fees. The prosecutor requested a writ of prohibition vacating the trial court’s order. The Supreme Court issued the requested writ, which it made permanent, holding that the trial court lacked authority to order the county to pay the fees of the special master. View "State ex rel. Merrell v. Honorable Robert Craig Carter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Appellants, who owned residential property located entirely in St. Louis County, argued that Jefferson and Franklin counties systematically undervalued property in those counties, causing Appellants to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of operating multi-county taxing districts. After exhausting their administrative remedies, Appellants filed a petition in the circuit court challenging their 2011-12 property tax assessments. The circuit court dismissed the petition for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Appellants’ administrative claims for review and their claim for declaratory relief, holding (1) Appellants failed to assert a violation of the uniformity clause in article X, section 3 of the Missouri Constitution; and (2) the State Tax Commission lacked jurisdiction to hear Appellants’ claims of inter-county discrimination on appeal from the St. Louis County Board of Equalization. View "Armstrong-Trotwood, LLC v. State Tax Commission of Missouri" on Justia Law

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The circuit court awarded Plaintiff $500,000 in damages on his claim against the Kansas City School District for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. The Supreme Court remitted the award to $403,189 and affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in all other respects, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in overruling the district’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict; (2) did not err in overruling the district’s motion for new trial based on alleged errors in a jury instruction; but (3) erred in overruling the district’s motion for remittitur because the award exceeded that which is allowed by law. View "Newsome v. Kansas City, Missouri School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a petition against the State for declaratory judgment alleging that provisions of Senate Bill 5 violated the special laws provision in the Hancock Amendment to the Missouri Constitution, and five other constitutional claims. The trial court declared the SB 5 contained special laws and unfunded mandates and permanently enjoined the enforcement of those provisions. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the trial court’s judgment that Mo. Rev. Stat. 67.287 and 479.359.3 are Hancock violations because these claims were not ripe for review where the General Assembly has until August 28, 2021 to appropriate funds, and the alleged increased duty is de minimis; and (2) affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ other constitutional claims. View "City of Normandy v. Greitens" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law