Articles Posted in Missouri Supreme Court

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Appellant filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that a gravel road running along the edge of his property belonged to him and was not a public road. The trial court granted summary judgment against Appellant, concluding that the road was a public county road by operation of Mo. Rev. Stat. 228.190.2, which provides that a road for which a county receives county aid road trust funds for at least five years is “conclusively deemed to be a public county road.” The Supreme Court affirmed but on other grounds, holding that because Appellant failed to show he had a current ownership interest in the strip of land on which the road runs, Appellant failed to show an interest in the lawsuit sufficient to give him standing to bring this action. View "Brehm v. Bacon Township" on Justia Law

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St. Louis County appealed a judgment awarding property owners damages from the taking of their real properties by eminent domain. The County claimed the judgment should have been reversed because the trial record was inadequate for appellate review because portions were inaudible or not recorded. Further, the County claimed the trial court abused its discretion in its evidentiary rulings and that the verdict was excessive and unsupported by the evidence. Upon review, the Supreme Court found no error, and that the verdict was supported by sufficient evidence. Therefore, the Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "St. Louis County vs. River Bend Estates Homeowners' Association" on Justia Law

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Trish Carcopa purchased a unit in Parkway Towers, a condominium, and later executed a quit claim deed conveying the unit to herself and Nicole Carcopa. Nicole subsequently executed an adjustable rate note that was a refinancing of the original purchase-money lien. The note was secured by a deed of trust that was held by Appellant at the time of this dispute. Parkway Towers brought a petition to judicially foreclose on its lien, alleging that Trish and Nicole failed to pay their assessments and dues and asserting it had a first and prior lien on the unit. The trial court found Parkway Towers' lien was superior to Appellant's deed of trust and ordered Parkway Towers' lien to be judicially foreclosed. Appellant appealed, claiming Mo. Rev. Stat. 448.3-116 was unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous with respect to its application to determine priority between a refinancing deed of trust and a delinquent condominium association assessment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statute was not vague and ambiguous and that Appellant's lien did not receive priority. View "Bd. of Managers of Parkway Towers Condo. Ass'n v. Carcopa" on Justia Law

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A port authority sought to purchase a parcel of land owned by trustees of a family trust. After negotiations failed, the port authority filed a petition for condemnation of the parcel. The trustees argued that the sole purpose for the taking was economic development, in violation of Mo. Rev. Stat. 523.271, and that the taking was for private use, in violation of the Missouri Constitution. The circuit court ordered condemnation hearing, concluding (1) the taking did not violate section 523.271 because the taking would facilitate construction of a loop track and improve river commerce in addition to promoting economic development; and (2) the taking served the public purpose of promoting economic development. The trustees petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the writ because the circuit court failed to find any purpose for the taking that was not included in the legislature's definition of "economic development," and therefore, held that the proposed taking was in excess of the port authority's condemnation authority. View "State ex rel. Jackson v. Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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The City of St. Louis passed ordinances authorizing a redevelopment plan proposed by Northside Regeneration. Plaintiffs filed a petition requesting a preliminary judgment to prevent the City and Northside from moving forward with the redevelopment plan. The trial court denied the request and set the case for trial. Intervenors subsequently intervened and filed a petition for declaratory judgment alleging that the redevelopment plan was in violation of and contrary to conditions set forth in Mo. Rev. Stat. 99.820, et seq. The trial court entered a declaratory judgment voiding the ordinances that authorized a tax increment financing plan to redevelop the property. The judgment declared the ordinances void because of the lack of a defined redevelopment project and cost-benefit analysis of such projects. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the judgment to the extent that it invalidated the ordinances for failure to include a sufficiently specific redevelopment project or a cost-benefit analysis of such projects, as the judgment went beyond the scope of the pleadings; and (2) affirmed the judgment in all other respects. View "Smith v. City of St. Louis" on Justia Law

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Appellants lost their home in a foreclosure sale. When Appellants failed to vacate the home, Wells Fargo Bank, the foreclosure purchaser, sued for unlawful detainer. Appellants raised equitable defenses and counterclaims concerning the validity of Wells Fargo's title. Wells Fargo successfully moved to dismiss the defenses and counterclaims on the ground that they exceeded the statutory scope of issues that may be litigated in an unlawful detainer action under Mo. Rev. Stat. 534.210. The circuit court then granted summary judgment to Wells Fargo. Appellants appealed, arguing that section 534.210, which prohibits a defendant from raising equitable defenses and/or challenges to the validity of the plaintiff's title in an unlawful detainer action, was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) statutory limitations on the scope of unlawful detainer actions are not unconstitutional; and (2) Appellants failed to raise a genuine issue of fact concerning Wells Fargo's right to possession. View "Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Smith" on Justia Law

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In 2001, Taxpayers bought two parcels located within a residential subdivision that was zoned residential. In 2009, the county assessor reclassified the property from residential to agricultural. The assessor assumed a commercial use on the property and thus valued it as commercial. The county board of equalization affirmed the assessor's determinations. Taxpayers appealed to the State Tax Commission (STC). A hearing officer found the appropriate classification for the property was commercial and that it should be assessed at the commercial rate as opposed to the agricultural rate. The STC affirmed the hearing officer's decision. The circuit court affirmed the STC's decision as being supported by competent and substantial evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the STC's application of the factors set forth in Mo. Rev. Stat. 137.016.5 to Taxpayers' property was supported by substantial and competent evidence in the record. View "Bateman v. Rinehart" on Justia Law

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801 Skinker Boulevard Corporation (801), a corporation operating as a residential cooperative, sought a refund for sales taxes under Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.030.2, which indicates that utilities purchased for residential units for common areas and facilities shall be deemed to be for domestic use. The refund request concerned state sales tax charged and paid on electric and natural gas utilities purchased from 2006 through 2009. 801 filed for a refund of sales tax on its Union Electric (Ameren) and Laclede Gas Company (Laclede) bills. Ameren and Laclede also filed for refunds on behalf of 801. Ameren and Laclede's applications were denied. 801, Ameren, and Laclede (Taxpayers) subsequently filed a request for a refund of sales tax with the Administrative Hearing Commission, alleging that the utilities were purchased for domestic use by the individual owners and residents of 801 in accordance with section 144.030.2. The Commission denied the request. The Supreme Court reversed and ordered a full refund of the sales tax paid, holding that Taxpayers were entitled to the exemption and refund of their sales taxes pursuant to section 144.190.2, as 801's utility purchases were deemed by statute to be for "domestic use" and, thus, were exempt from sales tax. View "801 Skinker Boulevard Corp. v. Dir. of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Hawthorn Bank appealed the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on Hawthorn Bank's claim that its purchase-money deed of trust being recorded after the mechanics' liens attached to the property. Hawthorn Bank asserted that purchase-money deeds of trust are always superior in priority to mechanics' liens under Missouri law and that the recording statutes, Mo. Rev. Stat. 442.380 and 442.400, do not govern the relative priority of a purchase-money deed of trust over a mechanic's lien. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that because sections 442.380 and 442.400 provided that Hawthorn Bank's purchase-money deed of trust was not valid until recorded and because the mechanics' liens attached before it was recorded, the purchase-money deed of trust was a subsequent encumbrance that was inferior in priority to the mechanics' liens. View "Bob DeGeorge Assocs., Inc. v. Hawthorn Bank" on Justia Law

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Appellant and Respondents entered into a lease agreement for a residence to be used by one of Respondents. Appellant later filed a petition for breach of contract and property damage against Respondents, claiming they had breached the terms of the lease and had committed waste on the property. Respondents filed a counterclaim against Appellant. The trial court ruled in favor of Respondents on Appellant's petition and in favor of Appellant on Respondents' counterclaim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, among other things, that there was substantial evidence supporting the trial court's determination that Respondents did not breach the lease agreement. View "Kieffer v. Icaza" on Justia Law