Case summaries for June 18 - June 24, 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.
Rulings Not Cited, Not Challenged
Circuit courts have inherent power to sanction the conduct of discovery, but only when that conduct is in bad faith, which means either a fraud on the court of other “dishonest purpose, moral obliquity, conscious wrongdoing, breach of a known duty through some ulterior motive or ill will partaking of the nature of fraud.” On appellant’s motion for sanctions for abuse of confidentiality, the circuit court found no bad faith, and appellant neither challenged that finding nor showed any prejudice, so appellant did not show any abuse of discretion from the denial of its motion. Appellant alleged that respondents misappropriated appellant’s information for respondents’ products. Respondents showed that appellant could not show that the information made its way into respondents’ products. Appellant charged error in excluding evidence rebutting that defense, but cited no such ruling, even though appellant’s independent expert witness had reviewed all the confidential information. Appellant charged error in admitting evidence of its witness’s workplace misconduct, but cited no ruling overruling appellant’s objection to such evidence, and such evidence was cumulative. Appellant’s challenge to instructions was only partially presented to the circuit court. Appellant’s point relied on failed to comply with rules, because the point was multifarious, and appellant failed to include the challenged instruction. Because the jury did not find liability in respondents, the jury did not reach the matter of mitigating damages, so appellants could show no prejudice if there were any error in the instruction on mitigation.
Shuttlewagon, Inc. vs. Scott Higgins, et al
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD83882
Garnishee Liable When Insurer Pays Debt
Statutes and rules provide that serving a writ of garnishment on the garnishee attaches the judgment debtor’s property in the hands of the garnishee, including debts that the garnishee owes to the judgment debtor. Existence of such a debt is the garnishor’s burden to plead and prove. Garnishee’s lack of control over payment of that debt—insurance proceeds that garnishee’s insurer paid to judgment debtor—was an affirmative defense on which garnishee had the burden of pleading and proof. Pleading that affirmative defense must occur in garnishee’s response to garnishor’s exceptions to interrogatory answers because those documents frame the issues. Garnishee’s allegations failed to plead that affirmative defense. Failure to raise that affirmative defense waived the affirmative defense. Garnishee’s response to garnishor’s motion for summary judgment did not raise a genuine issue as to any material fact established, so the Court of Appeals affirms summary judgment for garnishor.
Penguin Properties, LLC, Respondent, vs. King David Fashions, LLC and David Hughes, Defendants, and Transwood, Inc., Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109087
Money Physically Taken
The elements of stealing by coercion include that “[t]he offender physically takes the property appropriated from the person of the victim[.]” The State showed that element with evidence that victim opened a cash register, removed a $20 bill, and handed it to appellant, who fled with it. Conviction affirmed.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent v. LEIGHTON MICHAEL QUAPAW, Defendant-Appellant
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD36693
Settlement Statutes’ Derogation of Common Law Limited
Statutory provisions, that offers to settle personal injury claims remain open for a time certain, is a condition for the accrual of pre-judgment interest and proof of bad faith refusal to settle a reasonable opportunity to settle. That provision does not derogate the parties’ common law rights to revoke or reject an offer sooner than that time certain. Therefore, plaintiff’s settlement offer was subject to revocation, and to rejection by counteroffer.
Clifton Jameson, Appellant, vs. Alexis Still, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109161
Multiple Characteristics Determine Permanent and Total Disability for Second Injury Fund
Amended statutes limiting Second Injury Fund liability qualify claimant as totally and permanently disabled depending on any qualifying pre-existing disability, a later qualifying injury, and specified non-medical factors: age, health, and qualifications for work. The statutes intend “a real-world inquiry” as to whether a reasonable employer would hire claimant in their current condition. Under that standard, claimant carried the burden of proof, so the Court of Appeals reverses the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission decision against claimant, and remands for an award to claimant.
Christopher Klecka, Claimant/Appellant, vs. Treasurer of Missouri as Custodian of the Second Injury Fund, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED108721