Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri

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The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of prohibition preventing the circuit court from continuing to exercise jurisdiction in the underlying case, holding that the circuit court's rulings on certain motions were void. Plaintiff filed a petition against Defendants seeking to reform a deed. The circuit court reformed the deed to specify it transferred developer rights. Non-parties to the underlying action then filed a motion to intervene and a motion to set aside the reformation judgment. The circuit court granted both motions and vacated the reformation judgment. Plaintiff petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ, which it made permanent, holding that the circuit court lost jurisdiction in the underlying action thirty days after entering final judgment, and therefore, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the motion to intervene and the motion to set aside. View "State ex rel. AJKJ, Inc. v. Honorable Craig E. Hellmann" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order directing Mathew and Andrea Elder to remove their dock they built on a lake that abutted their home but that was owned by a neighboring subdivision but reversed the portion of the circuit court's order awarding attorney's fees, holding that the Elders did not acquire riparian rights in the lake and that the circuit court erred in finding "special circumstances" supporting the award of attorney's fees. Missouri law recognizes riparian rights for properties abutting natural bodies of water. The lake in this case was artificial. The Elders never had the right to use the lake based on their ownership of the abutting land and did not otherwise establish an easement for use of the lake. The circuit court entered a judgment directing the Elders to remove the dock and awarded attorney's fees for the board of trustees established by the founder of the subdivision tasked with maintaining the lake. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Elders did not have riparian rights to use the lake because it wa artificial and the Elders had no ownership or easement rights to its use; and (2) the circuit court erred in awarding the trustees attorney's fees because there were no special circumstances. View "Incline Village Board of Trustees v. Edler" on Justia Law

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Appellants, who owned residential property located entirely in St. Louis County, argued that Jefferson and Franklin counties systematically undervalued property in those counties, causing Appellants to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of operating multi-county taxing districts. After exhausting their administrative remedies, Appellants filed a petition in the circuit court challenging their 2011-12 property tax assessments. The circuit court dismissed the petition for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Appellants’ administrative claims for review and their claim for declaratory relief, holding (1) Appellants failed to assert a violation of the uniformity clause in article X, section 3 of the Missouri Constitution; and (2) the State Tax Commission lacked jurisdiction to hear Appellants’ claims of inter-county discrimination on appeal from the St. Louis County Board of Equalization. View "Armstrong-Trotwood, LLC v. State Tax Commission of Missouri" on Justia Law

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A Bank provided loans to owners of eight condominium units. All eight owners became delinquent on their loans to the Bank and failed to make timely payments on the property owners’ association’s (POA) assessments. The Bank foreclosed on its deeds of trust and purchased all eight properties. The POA demanded payment from the Bank for all new assessments on the properties it purchased and demanded that the Bank pay past due assessments. The Bank sought relief by filing a declaratory judgment action and an action for monetary damages caused by the POA’s alder of the Bank’s title to the properties. The trial court entered partial summary judgment in favor of the Bank, declaring that the Bank was not obligated to pay past due assessments by the POA on properties the Bank purchased at a foreclosure sale. The trial court certified its order for immediate appeal and reserved judgment on Bank’s slander of title count. The POA appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that it lacked the authority to review the trial court’s partial judgment because the judgment did not dispose of a distinct judicial unit, and therefore, it was not a final judgment for purposes of Mo. Rev. Stat. 512.020(5). View "First National Bank of Dieterich v. Pointe Royale Property Owners' Association, Inc." on Justia Law

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David and Crystal Holm filed a wrongful foreclosure action against Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. for allegedly foreclosing on their home without right. The Holms also filed a quiet title action against Freddie Mac, which took title to the property after the foreclosure sale. After a jury-waived trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of the Holms on their wrongful foreclosure claim, awarded them actual and punitive damages, and quieted title to the house in the Holms. The mortgage companies appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sanctioning the mortgage companies for their discovery violations; (2) substantial evidence supported the trial court’s conclusion that Wells Fargo wrongfully foreclosed on the Holms’ house; but (3) the trial court erred in awarding damages and quieting title to the house in the Holms because the mortgage companies had a constitutional right to have a jury determine the extent of the Holms’ actual and punitive damages on the wrongful foreclosure claim. Remanded for a new trial before a jury on the Holms’ damages for wrongful foreclosure. View "Holm v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a petition for a private way of necessity over properties owned by the Creekstone Homeowners Association and certain individuals (collectively, the Creekstone parties) and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC). The Creekstone parties and MHTC filed motions to dismiss Plaintiff’s petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed Plaintiff’s petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s claim against the Creekstone parties was barred by Mo. Rev. Stat. 228.341, which provides that the statutes authorizing private ways of necessity do not apply to roads created by or included in a recorded plat referencing a declaration creating an owner’s association; and (2) Plaintiff’s claim against MHTC was barred because no statute authorizes private ways of necessity across public lands. View "Avery Contracting, LLC v. Niehaus" on Justia Law