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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Plaintiffs on their claims of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and the award of punitive damages. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in overruling its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) because Plaintiffs failed to make a submissible case as to a breach of fiduciary duty and punitive damages. Plaintiffs, in response, argued that the Supreme Court lacked appellate jurisdiction because Defendant filed an untimely notice of appeal. The Supreme Court held (1) because Plaintiffs’ motion for attorney fees was an authorized after-trial motion to amend the judgment, Defendant timely filed its notice of appeal; and (2) Defendant failed to preserve for appellate review its claims that the trial court erred in overruling its JNOV motion. View "Heifetz v. Apex Clayton, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the motion court dismissing Appellant’s Mo. R. Crim. P. 24.035 motion for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing and remanded the case with instructions to the motion court to make an independent inquiry to determine whether Appellant was abandoned by his appointed counsel. Appellant pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to register as a sex offender. Appellant later filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief. After post-conviction relief counsel was appointed, Appellant sought to file an amended motion for post-conviction relief. Counsel did not file an amended motion for post-conviction relief until after the Rule 24.035(g) deadline. The motion court did not adjudicate Appellant’s amended motion and entered a judgment dismissing Appellant’s pro se post-conviction motion without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the motion court failed to make an independent inquiry into whether Appellant was abandoned by his appointed counsel. Because that determination should be reviewed and there was no record available for review of the motion court’s determination, this case must be remanded. View "Milner v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was whether consent is required from would-be affected counties before the Missouri Public Service Commission can issue a line certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) pursuant to the statute governing line CCNs, Mo. Rev. Stat. 393.170.1. Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC filed an application for a line CCN with the Commission seeking the Commission’s approval of Grain Belt’s proposed construction of an interstate electrical transmission line and associated facilities. The Commission denied the application for a line CCN, concluding that it was bound by In re Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois (ATXI), 523 S.W.3d 21 (Mo. App. 2017), which purported to require prior consent from each county affected by the proposed construction. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s order, holding (1) the Commission’s reliance on ATXI was error because section 393.170.1 does not require prior consent from affected counties; and (2) to the extent that ATXI suggests consent from every would-be affected county is required before the Commission can grant a line CCN, it should not be followed. View "Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC v. Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court entered in favor of Kohner Properties, Inc. in this rent-and-possession action, holding that circuit courts may exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis to determine whether an in custodia legis procedure is appropriate in a particular case. On appeal, Johnson argued that the circuit court erred in barring her from asserting the implied warranty of habitability as an affirmative defense and counterclaim because she remained in possession of the premises without depositing her unpaid rent to the circuit court in custodia legis. In making its ruling, the circuit court relied on the in custodia legis procedure in King v. Moorehead, 495 S.W.2d 65 (Mo. App. 1973). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that although the in custodia legis procedure in King was dicta, that was immaterial because such dicta has been “dutifully followed by our circuit courts for almost five decades” and therefore constituted the status quo in Missouri. The Court went on to hold that, given the absence of contrary authority from the Court or contrary legislation from the General Assembly, the circuit court could not be faulted for relying on King when it barred Johnson’s affirmative defense and counterclaim. View "Kohner Properties, Inc. v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Missouri Public Service Commission determining that the term “methodology” as used in Rule 20.093(1)(F) means not only the formula used to compute a sum (i.e., the variables to be used) but also the values of those variables. Staff of the Commission filed a complaint alleging that Union Electric Co. (Ameren) violated a rule of the Commission when it failed to use certain 2014 data to calculate Ameren’s net shared benefits under an energy-efficiency plan approved by the Commission in 2012. The Commission granted Staff’s motion for summary determination. Ameren appealed. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Commission, holding because the Commission’s erroneous determination of the meaning of term “methodology” played a central role in its decision, the matter must be remanded to the Commission for further proceedings. View "Missouri Public Service Commission v. Union Electric Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Respondents in this declaratory and injunctive relief action challenging a series of regulatory amendments proposed by the Missouri Conservation Commission that banned the importation of cervids in an attempt to eradicate chronic wasting disease. Appellants sued Respondents to prevent the amended regulations from going into effect. The circuit court declared the challenged regulations invalid and enjoined the Commission from enforcing them. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Commission has authority under Mo. Const. art. IV, 40(a) to regulate Respondents’ captive cervids as “wildlife” and “game”; (2) Respondents’ captive cervids are subject to regulation by the Commission under article IV, section 40(a) because they are “resources of the state”; and (3) and circuit court erred in concluding that the regulations were invalid and could not be enforced because they impermissibly infringed on Respondents’ right to farm under Mo. Const. art. I, 35. View "Hill v. Missouri Department of Conservation" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erroneously declared the law when it concluded that an employee’s violation of employer’s rules regarding vehicle operation were sufficient to preclude coverage under the omnibus clause of the employer’s insurance policy. James Campbell, an employee of BNSF Railway Company, rear-ended Ricky Lee Griffitts while driving a BNSF company vehicle. Campbell was intoxicated at the time of the collision. Numerous lawsuits ensued. This appeal was from an equitable garnishment action that Griffitts filed against BNSF and its insurer, Old Republic (collectively, Respondents), to collect on an unsatisfied judgment entered against Campbell in an earlier action. In this action, Griffitts claimed that Campbell was a permissive user under the omnibus clause of the insurance policy Old Republic issued to BNSF. The circuit court concluded that Campbell did not have permission to use the company vehicle at the time of the accident due to his violation of BNSF’s policy on the use of alcohol and drugs, and therefore, Campbell was not a permissive user under the omnibus clause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Campbell had permission to use the company vehicle at the time of the accident and that it did not matter, for purposes of insurance coverage, that Campbell was drunk. View "Griffitts v. Old Republic Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court quashing its preliminary order in mandamus against the Missouri Democratic Party and its chair and the secretary of state (collectively, Respondents), holding that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, Representative Courtney Curtis failed to show he was entitled to mandamus relief under Mo. Rev. Stat. 115.357. Curtis requested the circuit court issue a writ of mandamus ordering Respondents to accept his declaration of candidacy for the fourteenth senate district pursuant and filing fee as timely filed. The circuit court issued a preliminary order in mandamus then, following a hearing, quashed the preliminary order in mandamus. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Curtis failed to prove that either the Missouri Democratic Party or its chair were public officials against whom the remedy of mandamus is properly imposed; and (2) because the record did not reflect that Curtis submitted or attempted to submit his filing fee to the secretary of state’s office, the secretary of state did not fail to perform the ministerial duty of accepting Curtis’ filing fee in this case. View "Curtis v. Missouri Democratic Party" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Defendant’s motions to suppress evidence and sentencing Defendant to eight years’ imprisonment in connection with his conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motions to suppress methamphetamine because Defendant was not unlawfully seized when an officer requested that Defendant produce his driver’s license to verify whether he was driving on a suspended license and Defendant complied with that request; and (2) even though the range of punishment was misstated at the sentencing hearing, Defendant failed to establish that the circuit court imposed sentence based on a mistaken belief. View "State v. Perry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Defendant’s motions to suppress evidence and sentencing Defendant to eight years’ imprisonment in connection with his conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motions to suppress methamphetamine because Defendant was not unlawfully seized when an officer requested that Defendant produce his driver’s license to verify whether he was driving on a suspended license and Defendant complied with that request; and (2) even though the range of punishment was misstated at the sentencing hearing, Defendant failed to establish that the circuit court imposed sentence based on a mistaken belief. View "State v. Perry" on Justia Law