Case summaries for Sept. 24 - Sept. 30, 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.
Qualifications to Publish Notice Discussed
One statute, governing procedure in non-judicial foreclosure, provides for notice by publication in “a newspaper of general circulation” as further defined. Another statute “allows a circuit court to establish procedures for newspapers seeking to be qualified, but does not require a newspaper to petition the court for approval in the absence of such procedures [,]” so appellants needed no circuit court approval to publish notice. Statutes require registration of fictitious names but do not void any conduct for failure to comply. Affidavits supported summary judgment with first-hand knowledge of material facts. “[T]he best evidence rule does not exclude evidence based on personal knowledge even if documents or other writings would provide some of the same information.” No genuine dispute existed as to the material facts established. A judgment that disposed of less than all claims among all parties, but disposed of all claims between two parties, was subject to certification.
Jason A. Lewandowski, Respondent, vs. Alabama Housing Finance Authority, ServiSolutions, Inc., Corporation, and Missouri Lawyers Media, LLC, Appellants.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109368
Dismissal Must Be Without Prejudice
Constitutional provisions vest circuit courts with plenary jurisdiction while other matters temper the circuit courts’ exercise of authority. Among those matters are court-made prudential considerations like justiciability standing, mootness, and ripeness. “If a court disposes of a case on the grounds of standing, ripeness, or mootness, it cannot reach the merits.” If a court cannot reach the merits, it must dismiss without prejudice, because a dismissal with prejudice constitutes a ruling on the merits. The Court of Appeals affirms the circuit court’s unchallenged ruling on standing, ripeness or mootness, but reverses the circuit court’s dismissal with prejudice and enters judgment without prejudice.
Missouri State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, League of Women Voters of Missouri, and Christine Dragonette vs. State of Missouri and John R. Ashcroft, In His official Capacity as Missouri Secretary of State
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD84028
Dangerous Offender Status Case Transferred
A foundation identifying text messages’ author included defendant’s admissions, recipient’s testimony, and a signature. No plain error occurred in the admission of evidence that was not outcome-determinative as substantial other evidence showed. Statutes provide the elements, and procedure for establishing those elements, of an enhanced sentence as a dangerous offender. Whether that statute and the approved instruction conflict is a question of general interest and importance supporting a transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court.
State of Missouri, Respondent, vs. Shawn W. Yount, Appellant.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED108967
No Benefits on Losing Second Job
Multiple sources establish 40 hours per week as full-time employment, which claimant had with her first job, so the loss of a second job was irrelevant to any provision for employment security benefits.
Della Scheumbauer, Claimant/Appellant, vs. City of St. Louis, Employer/Respondent, and Division of Employment Security, Respondent.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109260
Law of the Case Bars Motion
The law of the case applies to all rulings made in any one action, and parties cannot relitigate those rulings on remand, or in an appeal after the remand, under the law of the case doctrine. The law of the case doctrine also applies to matters that the parties could have raised but did not. In an earlier motion, the courts denied relief based on the escape rule, mooting a claim of abandonment by retained counsel through an unspecified conflict of interest. A specified claim could have been raised but was not and so is barred. And in any event, abandonment supports relief only when counsel is appointed, not when counsel is retained.
Alan L. Echols vs. State of Missouri
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD83980
Landlord’s Damages Only Partially Proven
Statute provides that documents certified as business records are admissible, so circuit court erred in sustaining a hearsay objection against appellant’s medical records. No offer of proof was necessary to preserve the issue because the certification specified the disputed evidence for the courts and the parties. But an offer of proof was necessary to demonstrate prejudice—without the medical records, appellant cannot show that a $500 damages award was insufficient. No termination of the parties’ lease occurred because appellant landlord did not give notice of termination to respondent tenant. When appellant instructed respondent to vacate, took possession, and re-let to a third party, respondents were liable only for the rents unmitigated by the third party’s payments.
Richard William Bangert, et al., Appellants, v. Dustin L. Rees, et al., Respondents.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED109319
Multiple Pre-Existing Injuries Support SIF Award
Statutes make claimant eligible for an award from the Second Injury Fund when a later work-related injury results in permanent total disability in combination with a pre-existing injury—meaning any one or more than one. When the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission has already completed its fact-finding task, but erroneously declared and applied the law, Court of Appeals reverses and remands with directions to enter an award for claimant.
William Wilson vs. Treasurer of the State of Missouri - Custodian of the Second Injury Fund
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District - WD84420