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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment dismissing the petition of Grandparents for visitation and custody of their grandson, over whom Guardians had guardianship. The circuit court concluded that Grandparents failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Grandparents’ petition failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because their petition did not set forth the requisite elements of grandparent visitation under Mo. Rev. Stat. 452.402; and (2) Grandparents failed to state a cause of action under Mo. Rev. Stat. 452.375.5(5)(a) for custody or visitation when letters of guardianship had been issued by the probate division. View "Hanson v. Carroll" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the sentences imposed upon Defendant after the circuit court convicted him of thirteen counts stemming from the sexual abuse of his two step-daughters and his biological daughter. At sentencing, the State requested that the circuit court find Defendant to be a predatory sexual offender. The circuit court found Defendant was be a predatory sexual offender and sentenced him to eight concurrent terms of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole for each of his five first-degree statutory sodomy convictions and three first-degree statutory rape convictions. Defendant appealed his sentences, arguing that the circuit court improperly sentenced him as a predatory sexual offender. The Supreme Court held (1) because the circuit court did not find Defendant to be a predatory sexual offender until his sentencing, after the case had been submitted to the jury, the court failed to comply with the timing requirement of Mo. Rev. Stat. 558.021.2; but (2) the circuit court’s timing error did not result in manifest injustice or a miscarriage of justice. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court judgments denying two employers’ requests for permanent writs of mandamus against the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR). The circuit court rejected Employers’ arguments that the MCHR was required to first determine whether Employers’ employees’ complaints of discrimination were timely filed with the MCHR before the MCHR had authority to issue the employees a right-to-sue letter. The Supreme Court held (1) Mo. Rev. Stat. 213.111.1 requires the MCHR to issue a right-to-sue letter and terminate all proceedings related to a complaint if 180 days have elapsed and the employee has made written request for a right-to-sue letter; and (2) because that is what occurred in both of these cases, the MCHR was required to issue the right-to-sue letters, and the circuit court properly refused to issue writs directing the MCHR to perform an act the MHRA prohibits. View "State ex rel. Tivol Plaza, Inc. v. Missouri Commission on Human Rights" on Justia Law

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Two former employees of the Missouri Department of Insurance (collectively, Employees) filed a petition in Jackson County circuit court requesting a writ of mandamus directing the Department and its director (collectively, Respondents) to pay Employees for lost wages and pensions. After an inquiry by the circuit court’s administrator, Employees instructed that the case be handled as a regular Jackson County case and not as a writ. In compliance with Employees’ instructions, summonses for a civil case were issued by the circuit court and served. The parties eventually filed competing motions for summary judgment. More than three years after the initial filing, the circuit court sustained Respondents’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that Employees failed to establish a basis for mandamus. The Supreme Court dismissed Employees’ appeal, holding that because the circuit court never granted a preliminary writ, the denial of mandamus relief was not subject to appeal. View "Bartlett v. Missouri Department of Insurance" on Justia Law

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The Administrative Hearing Commission erred in finding that the St. Louis Rams did not have to pay sales tax on the entertainment license tax (ELT) they included and collected from ticket purchasers as the amount paid for admission during certain periods from 2007 through 2013. The Commission (1) ordered the director of revenue to issue a refund to the Rams for the ELT included in the period from February 2007 through January 2010; and (2) found the Rams were not liable for sales tax based on the ELT collected and remitted from February 2010 through January 2013. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s decision and remanded the cause for further proceedings, holding that the Commission erred in finding the portion of the ticket sales the Rams used to pay the ELT was not subject to sales tax because the ELT was included in the amount ticket purchasers paid for admission via the fixed ticket price charged by the Rams. View "St. Louis Rams LLC v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing prospective juror 24 to serve on the jury in this medical negligence case. Following a jury trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of defendant hospitals. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by failing to strike for cause juror 24 because she expressed a disqualifying bias in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by finding, without additional questioning, that prospective juror 24 was not disqualified because she was successfully rehabilitated when the entire voir dire was considered, including her later statement that she could follow the trial court’s instructions. View "Thomas v. Mercy Hospitals East Communities" on Justia Law

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Nevils was a federal employee insured through a plan governed by the Federal Employee Health Benefits Act (FEHBA) when she was injured in an automobile accident. Coventry paid her medical expenses and asserted a subrogation lien against a settlement Nevils received from the party responsible for the accident. Nevils filed a class action, arguing Missouri law does not permit subrogation of personal injury claims. Coventry obtained summary judgment, based on FEHBA’s preemption clause: The terms of any contract under this chapter which relate to the nature, provision, or extent of coverage or benefits (including payments with respect to benefits) shall supersede and preempt any State or local law, ... which relates to health insurance, 5 U.S.C. 8902(m)(1). Initially, the Missouri Supreme Court concluded Congress did not manifest a clear intent to preempt state anti-subrogation laws. The Office of Personnel Management subsequently promulgated a rule providing that an insurer’s rights to subrogation and reimbursement under federal employee health benefits contracts “relate to the nature, provision, and extent of coverage or benefits” under FEHBA. On remand, the Missouri Supreme Court held the rule did not alter its analysis. The U.S. Supreme Court then held an insurer’s subrogation rights “relate to . . . payments with respect to benefits” and that FEHBA “manifests the same intent to preempt state law” as other federal preemption statutes despite the different “linguistic formulation” of section 8902(m)(1). In light of that holding, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Nevils v. Group Health Plan, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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Sanders was convicted of murder in the second degree and is serving a sentence of life imprisonment for the murder of Sherilyn Hill (RSMo section 565.021.1). Consistent with the indictment, the trial court instructed the jury it must find Sanders guilty of second-degree murder if the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that Sanders knowingly caused Hill’s death by “kicking her and strangling her.” The court also instructed the jury on voluntary manslaughter, which, like the second-degree murder instruction, required the jury to determine whether Sanders caused Hill’s death by “kicking her and strangling her.” The trial court refused Sanders’ requested instruction on the lesser included offense of involuntary manslaughter, which would have required the jury to determine whether Sanders “recklessly” caused Hill’s death by “kicking her.” The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. The trial court did not err by refusing to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter because Sanders’ proffered involuntary manslaughter instruction impermissibly modified the charged offense by requiring the jury to find he caused Hill’s death by kicking her as opposed to kicking and strangling her. View "State v. Sanders" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In 1983, Carr was convicted capital murder for killing his brother, stepmother, and stepsister when he was 16 years old. He was sentenced to three concurrent terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years. His sentences were imposed without any consideration of his youth. The Missouri Supreme Court granted his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. His sentences violate the Eighth Amendment because, following the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama, juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life without parole pursuant to mandatory sentencing schemes that preclude consideration of the offender’s youth and attendant circumstances. Carr was sentenced under a mandatory sentencing scheme that afforded no opportunity to consider his age, maturity, limited control over his environment, the transient characteristics attendant to youth, or his capacity for rehabilitation. Carr must be resentenced so his youth and other attendant circumstances surrounding his offense can be taken into consideration to ensure he will not be forced to serve a disproportionate sentence in violation of the Eighth Amendment. View "Carr v. Wallace" on Justia Law

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Jorgensen knocked Stout unconscious. Jorgensen and Jensen beat Stout with their fists and baseball bats and stomped on his head, chest, and midsection, then dragged him into the woods and left him for dead. The next day, they returned and discovered Stout was alive. Jorgensen stabbed Stout multiple times and attempted to cut his throat, then tried to shoot Jensen. Jensen ran away and called for help. Jensen eventually led authorities to Stout’s body, claiming that he acted under duress. The state charged Jensen, as a persistent offender, with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, and abandonment of a corpse. The court instructed the jury on first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and voluntary manslaughter and that duress was an affirmative defense to voluntary manslaughter but refused to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of involuntary manslaughter. Jensen was convicted of second-degree murder, armed criminal action, and abandonment of a corpse. The Missouri Supreme Court reversed. The court's error in refusing Jensen’s properly requested instruction on involuntary manslaughter was prejudicial because the omitted instruction would have directly tested whether Jensen acted “recklessly” as opposed to “knowingly.” Jensen’s claims that the court erred in failing to declare a mistrial due to the admission of evidence of uncharged misconduct, comments the defendant had “gangster tattoos all over him,” and the emotional outburst of the victim’s mother were without merit.The court did not reverse Jensen’s conviction for abandonment of a corpse. View "State v. Jensen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law