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Case summaries for Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2024


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.

Civil | Criminal | Juvenile | Personal Injury | Post-Conviction | Real Estate


Judgment presumed paid
The doctrine of merger by judgment provides that a settlement, when incorporated into a judgment, merges with the judgment and is performed when the judgment is satisfied. The judgment remains effective, only the debt obligation is discharged, so the parties’ severability, or “survival,” clause was not rendered meaningless by application of the statute. Statute deems every judgment debt, unless renewed, “paid and satisfied” ten years after rendered. An action for breach of contract and unjust enrichment, both founded on the parties’ dissolution agreement incorporated into a judgment of dissolution, constituted an attempt to enforce a lapsed judgment. The circuit court did not err in dismissing the action for failure to state a claim for relief.
STEPHANIE MAXINE STENGER, f/k/a Stephanie Stenger Montgomery, Petitioner-Respondent v. MARTIN SCOTT MONTGOMERY, Respondent-Appellant
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37849


Mandamus remedies judgment issued without authority
The writ of mandamus remedies an excess of authority. The authority of a circuit court in a criminal action ends with imposition of sentence. Circuit court had no authority to find and remedy plain error sua sponte. An order nunc pro tunc can only correct a clerical error in an earlier ruling to reflect events accurately, cannot alter or further develop the terms of an earlier ruling, and cannot constitute a new ruling. Even if the circuit court had authority to enter an amended judgment, it could not order probation for defendant when barred by statute, and such amended judgment is void. The Court of Appeals makes its preliminary writ of mandamus permanent, and orders the circuit court to vacate the amended judgment, leaving the original judgment in place as final.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37485


Neglect shown
Statutes provided that juvenile division or family division had exclusive authority when clear and convincing evidence showed that a child was experiencing neglect. Neglect included failure to provide mental health care and treatment, including therapy and control over medications. Substantial evidence, including three overdoses, supported a finding of neglect.
(Overview Summary) 
In the Interest of: S.F., Juvenile Officer vs. N.F., A.S.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD86165

Personal Injury

Open and obvious danger discussed
The owner of real estate has a duty to protect invitees from dangerous conditions, except dangerous conditions so open and obvious that damage is not foreseeable. “[W]hether the defendant falls below th[e] standard of care is a factual question for the jury” but “[t]he applicable standard of care in each case is a question of law for the courts,” and “[c]ourts are not bound by stipulations or concessions as to questions of law.” The evidence supported a finding that the fold in appellant property owner’s floor mat, over which plaintiff tripped and fell, was partially obscured from plaintiff’s view. Evidence that plaintiff “could have” seen the danger did not necessarily characterize the danger as open and obvious as a matter of law so as to remove the matter from the jury. Judgment, on a verdict assessing comparative fault at 65 percent to defendant and 35 percent to plaintiff, affirmed.
(Overview Summary)
Patricia Anslinger, Respondent, vs. Christian Hospital Northeast-Northwest, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED111387


No reliance on inadmissible evidence shown
Some matters raised on direct appeal may also be raised in a motion for post-conviction relief. “The selection of expert witnesses by trial counsel is generally a question of trial strategy and is ‘virtually unchallengeable’ in an ineffective-assistance claim.” Trial counsel did not call an expert witness on phone data because the information found was little help to the defense and greater benefit to the prosecution. Those facts constitute a sound strategic decision. In a bench trial, the circuit judge is presumed to disregard inadmissible evidence and that presumption is rebuttable only on “clear and obvious statement of reliance” on the inadmissible evidence.
CROWIN KING, Movant-Appellant v. STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent-Respondent
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD37871

Real Estate

Tax sale notice to decedent was sufficient
The circuit court set aside a tax sale for insufficient notice to the grantee in a beneficiary deed. Notice of a tax sale is sufficient if “reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them an opportunity to present their objections.” Statutes provide that notice of a tax sale goes to any “owners, as disclosed upon the records of the assessor of the real estate for which tax bills thereon are delinquent.” The assessor’s records showed decedent as sole owner so notice sent to decedent’s last known address, and posted in several places, was sufficient. Decedent’s beneficiary deed to appellant does not alter that result because none of the county officials involved had any reason to know about it or appellant. Officials’ efforts at notice outweigh appellant’s efforts at protecting an interest in the property Order setting aside tax sale reversed.
(Overview Summary)
In the Matter of Foreclosure of Liens for Delinquent Land Taxes by Action in REM, Collector of Revenue City of St. Louis, Missouri, Respondent, and Scott W. Reibe, Respondent, vs. A&W Investment Group, LLC, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED111425