Case summaries for Aug. 6 - Aug. 12, 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.
Settlement Required Future Performance
Courts enforce contracts according to the parties’ intent, which courts determine from contract language, which makes contract actions apt for summary judgment when contract language is unambiguous. Ambiguity’s existence is a question of law. Unambiguously, “hereby” means an obligation to be performed immediately, and “shall be” means a future obligation to be performed after the contract takes effect. A future obligation without a deadline must occur within a reasonable time. Reasonable timing is fact-specific. Circuit court conclusions of law as to which party breached the contract and was due an attorney fees award, based on an incorrect reading of the contract, are reversed.
Pelopidas, LLC, et al., Respondents, vs. Rachel Keller, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109395
Named Insured Distinguished from Occupancy Insured
Automobile liability policy distinguished between named insured, for home policy stacked coverage, and occupancy insured. Policy unambiguously defined named insured as certain entities. An amendment added those entities’ employees, but only as an occupant insured, and did not elevate such employees to named insured status. Because appellant was not a named insured, stacking provisions are inapplicable.
Adrienne Siddens vs. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD84141
Circuit Clerk Suspension Case Transferred
Statutes provide suspension of circuit clerk pending trial for a misdemeanor and vest “general administrative authority over all ... court officials in the circuit” in the presiding judge. Presiding judge issued an order that accused circuit clerk of misdemeanors, suspended circuit clerk indefinitely, and barred circuit clerk from exercising any capacity of that office. That order constituted a de facto removal from office, which can only happen by misdemeanor conviction, or judgment in quo warranto. Administrative orders are not subject to judicial immunity. A special judge appointed by the Supreme Court of Missouri has authority to determine declaratory and injunctive relief against a circuit judge. Transferred.
Karla L. Allsberry, Respondent/Cross-Appellant, vs. Patrick S. Flynn, in his Individual Capacity, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109468 and ED109481
Affidavit Sufficient for Abandonment Inquiry
Circuit court’s inquiry into abandonment need not include a formal, adversarial, evidentiary hearing. Post-conviction counsel filed an amended motion late, and an affidavit alleging facts that described abandonment, on which circuit court relied. That procedure was sufficient to constitute the necessary inquiry into abandonment, to make a finding of abandonment based on an implicit determination of credibility, and to rule on the amended motion. But the amended motion only alleged facts already refuted by the record: that movant possessed methamphetamine. Whether the amount was merely an unmeasurable trace is irrelevant to the offense to which movant pleaded guilty. Therefore, there was a sufficient factual basis for the guilty plea and plea counsel was not ineffective for challenging that basis. No evidentiary hearing was necessary before denying the motion.
Christopher Schilling, Movant/Appellant, vs. State of Missouri, Defendant/Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED108969
No Quiet Title, No Appeal
A judgment rejecting both plaintiff’s claim, and defendant’s counterclaim, to quiet title resolved no issue as to any party. Such a judgment is not final, so it is not subject to appeal, and the Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction. Remanded to determine the parties’ interest in the disputed land.
Christopher L. Shreves, as Trustee of the Christopher L. Shreves Revocable Trust dated March 19, 2015, and as Co-Trustee of the Mildred M. Shreves Revocable Trust dated March 19, 2015, and Mildred M. Shreves, as Trustee of the Mildred M. Shreves Revocable Trust dated March 19, 2015 and as Co-Trustee of the Christopher L. Shreves Revocable Trust dated March 19, 2015, Respondents, vs. Unknown Heirs of the Sadie B. McCluer, Deceased, and Unknown Heirs of David K. Pitman and Spouse, Defendants, and JSAC Holdings, LLC, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED108994