Case summaries for June 4 - June 10, 2021
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.
Theories on Appeal Distinguished
A ten-year statute of limitations applies to all debts generally, except a five-year limitation specifically for “[a]n action upon any writing ... for payment of money [,]” which consists of “admission of a debt due [.]” That element is not subject to extrinsic evidence, but was manifest in ledger notations of amounts “borrowed [,]” while extrinsic evidence offered to show the meaning of other amounts recorded elsewhere was inadmissible. The rule of privity generally limits liability on a contract to other parties to the contract, so the circuit court erred in finding liability in a defendant not party to the contract alleged. The elements of a contract for the sale of real property include the price, which is unsatisfied by a provision that the parties will adjust the price to account for any buildings on the subject property, without “reference to any particular method of determining the price on which a court may reasonably rely in finding clear and convincing evidence of a certain price term in a real estate contract.” Denial of an easement by implication was against the weight of the evidence. Judgment ordering payment or credit of a specified sum was sufficiently specific to make a final judgment. No judgment is subject to reversal unless appellant shows that the judgment has no support in substantial evidence, is against the weight of the evidence, erroneously declares the law, or erroneously applies the law. Each of those theories requires a different analysis, and raising more than one of them in a single point makes the point multifarious, but an appellate court has discretion to review such a point.
Shirley R. Ebert, et al., Respondents/Cross-Appellants, vs. Mark R. Ebert and Cindy K. Ebert, Appellants/Cross-Respondents.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED108195
No Prejudice Shown
In an action to determine whether appellant was a sexually violent predator, appellant charged error in finding probable cause at the preliminary hearing. Even if so, appellant could show no prejudice from any such error, when his conviction came about by a later jury trial. “[T]he subsequent jury verdict finding [appellant] a sexual[ly] violent predator supplants the probable cause finding [.]”
IN THE MATTER OF THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF KEVIN STRANG, a/k/a KEVIN D. STRANG, a/k/a KEVIN DAVID STRANG, Respondent-Appellant
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD36885
Standard for Rescinding Waiver of Counsel Explained
Appellant timely asserted his right to speedy trial but delays occurred as the result of appellant’s motions, difficulties in setting trial dates, and the parties’ negotiations; and appellant showed no prejudice from such delays. Whether appellant was attempting to further delay trial when requesting to rescind his waiver of counsel, or by other means, does not determine whether circuit court should grant that request because the standard is simply “whether appointing counsel will require a last-minute continuance [.]” Appellant showed no plain error.
State of Missouri, Respondent, v. Cruz Howell, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED108571
“Slight” Evidence Negated Self-Defense
“Once a defendant has injected the issue of self-defense into the case, the burden shifts to the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the absence of self-defense.” State’s evidence consisted of testimony from appellant’s cellmate, that appellant admitted having “turned around and stabbed” decedent. That testimony was sufficient to bar acquittal as a matter of law and submit the issue of self-defense to the jury. Conviction for first-degree murder and armed criminal action affirmed.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent vs. MATTHEW AARON JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD36684
Grandparent Intervention Limited
Statutes provide that unreasonable denial of visitation supports grandparent visitation in an action for dissolution of marriage, but no other action, including an action for paternity and custody. Whether grandparents should be allowed to intervene in an action for paternity and custody is a question for the General Assembly and not for the courts.
X.P.E.L., By His Next Friend, C.T., and C.T., Individually, Appellants, vs. J.L.L., Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED108748
Movant's allegations described prejudice from reliance on plea counsel's advice and the provisions of the plea agreement, which credited movant with time served in Colorado. Movant could reasonably rely on that advice and those provisions but they were contrary to Missouri law: Missouri statutes credit movant with time served in Colorado only if Missouri was solely responsible for detaining movant in Colorado, and Colorado had its own grounds for detaining movant. The record did not refute movant's allegations, statements at the plea hearing notwithstanding, so movant was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the allegations in the motion.
Robert W. Rossa, Appellant, v. State of Missouri, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109242
Abandonment Inquiry Necessary
Movant sought an extension of time to file an amended motion, and filed the amended motion within the time sought, but the circuit court never ruled on the extension. Therefore, the amended motion was late, and an inquiry into abandonment was necessary. Remanded for that inquiry.
William Donnell Edwards, Appellant, vs. State of Missouri, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED108864
Late Appeal Renders Motion Premature
Movant filed a motion timely, but permission to file an appeal late in the underlying criminal action rendered movant’s judgment less than final, rendering the motion premature. A premature motion must await disposition of the appeal in the underlying criminal action, because issues subject to a motion can still arise, but the circuit court had no notice of the late appeal and ruled on the motion. Judgment on the motion reversed and remanded to proceed once mandate issues in the underlying criminal action.
T'Oddre D. Hudson vs. State of Missouri
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD83748
Trust Amendment Not Executed, Not Effective
Trust instrument, amended after first wife’s death and before settlor’s second marriage, “retained numerous references to [settlor]’s ‘wife’ [.]” Those references unambiguously meant settlor’s first wife only, and not any subsequent wife, even though the amended trust instrument cited first wife’s death, settlor intended to minimize all tax consequences on settlor’s death, and the trust instrument omitted appellant second wife only because settlor died before executing an amendment to include second wife. Statutes protecting an omitted spouse entitle second wife to a share of the probate estate but not the trust. Statutes protecting a spouse from transfers in fraud of marital rights apply only to transfers during settlor’s marriage to second wife. Circuit court did abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees to respondent.
Patricia C. Berezo, Appellant, vs. Lalo Berezo, et al., Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109192
Statutory Employment Shown
Plaintiff was an employee of employer special school district, and thus of the defendant school district with which employer contracted, so workers’ compensation statutes provided plaintiff’s exclusive remedy for injury on defendant’s property. To satisfy the elements of statutory employment did not require evidence that school district “commission[ed]” appellant to work on defendant’s property, because of employer’s contract with plaintiff to carry out employer’s usual business, and “the unique relationship created by state statute between” employer and defendant. Therefore, the circuit court did not err in granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Brenda Linkous, Appellant, v. Kirkwood School District, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109136