Case summaries for Jan. 13 - Jan. 19, 2023
Each week, The Missouri Bar provides links to all hand downs published online during the past seven days by the Supreme Court of Missouri and the Missouri Court of Appeals. The Missouri Bar has created headings and summaries for each case. Summaries are not part of the opinions of the Court. They have been prepared for the convenience of the reader and should not be quoted or cited.
Too Late to Correct Unauthorized Order
Rule allows circuit court to set aside an order. An order nunc pro tunc corrects mere clerical errors to conform the record to the actual events, while the circuit court’s order addressed the division of marital property, which is not subject to modification. But the rule requires the filing of the motion to occur within a reasonable time. The time between the order’s issuance and the motion’s filing was six years and movant offered no explanation for that delay. Judgment denying the motion to set aside is affirmed.
Gina Kalish, Respondent, vs. James Kalish, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110301
No Ambiguity on Liability Limits and Post-Judgment Interest
In an action for equitable garnishment, appellants sought post-judgment interest accruing until insurer paid the entire judgment against insured for damages. But the policy unambiguously terminated insurer’s liability for post-judgment interest when insurer paid the unambiguous liability limits for damages. Summary judgment for insurer affirmed.
Michael Walsh vs. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and Sheryl Craig
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD85260 and WD85285
Findings on Timely Filing Required
The elements of a claim for relief on the initial motion and amended motion include timely filing or an exception. An exception based on COVID restrictions was part of movant’s pleadings, but the circuit court’s judgment included neither relevant findings of fact nor applicable conclusions of law. Findings of fact and conclusions of law are necessary, even for a motion that was insufficient or required no evidentiary hearing, which did not describe movant’s motion. Remanded with instructions to determine the timeliness or exception of the initial motion and amended motion, and whether evidentiary hearings are due, and to make findings of fact and conclusions of law.
David L. Ross, Appellant, v. State of Missouri, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110423
Developer Rights Explained
Covenants vested developer with rights to unilaterally alter covenants. Developer conveyed developer’s rights to successors by deeds. Deeds did not name homeowners as a party, so homeowners had no standing in an action for declaratory judgment to construe the deeds. The deeds’ effect on homeowners, by a successor’s unilateral amendment reducing the minimum square footage of new construction, was too speculative to constitute an interest in the deeds.
Ronald D. Ruff, et al., Appellants, vs. Bequette Construction, et al., Respondents.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED110182
Strict Necessity Supported Easement
Appellants challenged a judgment based on the sufficiency of evidence. Such a challenge must cite a finding necessary to the judgment and, if the cited ruling is unnecessary to the judgment, the appeal fails. In an action for an easement by necessity, plaintiff must show that plaintiff’s land is inaccessible by any lawful and reasonable means from any public road. A fire trail from a highway across United States land did not constitute a public road, the circuit court held, and appellants challenged that finding. But that finding was not necessary to the judgment because the trail stopped short of plaintiffs’ land. Therefore, even if appellants were right about the evidence about the trail as a public road, there still was no access to plaintiffs’ land from the highway. Also, the record showed that the trail was unfit for automotive travel without hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements, so access via the trail was not reasonable. Plaintiffs’ judgment affirmed.
JARED FORD and MARY WILLIAMS, Respondents v. ROBERT D. GIOVANELLI II, and KERITH A. GIOVANELLI, Appellants
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37271