Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court declining to award Arrowhead Lake Estates Homeowners Association, Inc. attorney's fees after awarding Arrowhead Lake injunctive relief, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion.Arrowhead Lake filed a petition for injunctive relief seeking to have an unapproved building removed and to be awarded attorney's fees. The circuit court ordered Homeowner to remove the unapproved building but did not award Arrowhead Lake attorney's fees. Arrowhead Lake appealed, arguing that it was entitled to attorney's fees based upon the language of the "Declaration of Covenants, Easements, and Restrictions of Arrowhead Lake Estates Subdivision." The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where the Declaration's clear intent to provide recovery to a prevailing "lot owner" who brings suit to enforce the Declaration's terms and where Arrowhead Lake never claimed it was a "lot owner," the circuit court properly declined to award attorney's fees. View "Arrowhead Lake Estates Homeowners Ass'n, Inc. v. Aggarwal" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of the Affton Fire Protection District, the governor, and the attorney general (collectively, Defendants) in this challenge to Mo. Rev. Stat. 72.418.2 and 321.322.3, holding that the circuit court did not err.The City of Crestwood and two of its resident taxpayers (collectively, Plaintiffs) argued that sections 72.418.2 and 321.322.3, which govern the provision of and payment for fire protection services in certain annexed areas, violate the prohibition against special laws in Mo. Const. art. III, 40 and that section 72.418.2 violates constitutional due process protections and provisions of the Missouri Constitution prohibiting certain taxes and the creation of unfunded mandates. The Supreme Court held (1) a rational basis supported the classification scheme in sections 72.418 and 321.322.3; (2) the fee Crestood pays to the district is not a tax on the resident taxpayers of Crestwood; and (3) section 72.418.2 does not create an unfunded mandate. View "City of Crestwood v. Affton Fire Protection District" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment in favor of the Empire District Electric Company and Westar Generating, Inc. (collectively, the Utilities) in this petition to quiet title against John Scorse, both individually and as a trustee, and his successors in interest concerning a tract of land in Newton County, holding that the circuit court did not err.After the circuit court entered its judgment, Scorse filed a motion to amend the judgment, arguing that the circuit court misapplied the law by failing to grant his adverse possession claim. The circuit court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the facts, combined with the facts found by the circuit court in its final judgment after trial, were not such that Scorse was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on his claim of adverse possession. View "Empire District Electric Co. v. Scorse" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) finding that David and Gale Collison were not entitled to a sales tax credit following their purchase of a vehicle to replace another vehicle declared a casualty loss by their insurance company, holding that the Collisons could not prevail in this matter.In denying the requested sales tax credit the AHC found that a revocable trust, not the Collisons, owned the new vehicle and that the Collisions, and not the revocable trust, owned the replaced vehicle. On appeal, the Collisons argued that they and the revocable trust were the same owner of the separate vehicles and the same entity for purposes of the sales tax credit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Missouri law clearly considers a trust and the natural persons who create and control the trust to be separate and distinct entities, the Collisons and their revocable trust were legally separate owners. View "Collison v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court entering partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff on the issue of liability, holding that the circuit court did not err in entering summary judgment on the issue of liability in Plaintiff's favor.After he mobile home caught on fire Plaintiff sued several defendants, including Mehrdad Fotoohighiam, alleging that Fotoohighiam and the other defendants conspired to set her home on fire, causing her mental and physical harm and property damage. The circuit court entered partial summary judgment as to liability in Plaintiff's favor. After a jury trial on the issue of damages only the jury returned a verdict of $250,000 in actual damages and $2,500,000 in punitive damages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly determined that the uncontroverted material facts established Plaintiff's right to partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. View "Green v. Fotoohighiam" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court made permanent its preliminary writ of prohibition prohibiting the circuit court from ordering certain defendants to be joined as necessary parties, holding that Mo. R. Civ. P. 52.04(a) did not mandate that the added defendants be joined.After deficiencies in the construction of an independent senior living facility (the Project) were discovered, Plaintiff brought contract and tort claims against the architect, the structural engineer, the construction company, the framer, and the supplier, alleging construction defects. The masonry company hired to perform brick masonry work was not included as a defendant. Certain defendants moved to add the masonry company, arguing that the company must be added pursuant to Rule 52.04. The circuit court ordered the masonry company be joined. Plaintiff filed a petition for a writ of prohibition seeking to direct the circuit court to dismiss and remove the masonry company. The court of appeals denied the petition. The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding that the masonry company was not a "necessary" defendant, and therefore, the circuit court did not have the authority to require joinder. View "State ex rel. Woodco, Inc. v. Honorable Jennifer Phillips" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the clean water commission approving Trenton Farms' permit to establish a twin concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), holding that House Bill No. 1713 (HB 1713) does not violate the original purpose, single subject, or clear title requirements of the Missouri Constitution and that there was sufficient evidence regarding the CAFO's protection from a 100-year flood.The clean water commission affirmed the department of natural resource's issuance of a permit to Trenton Farms to establish a CAFO. Hickory Neighbors United, Inc. appealed, arguing (1) HB 1713, which amended Mo. Rev. Stat. 644.021.1 to change the criteria for members of the commission, violated Missouri Constitution article III's original purpose requirement and single subject and clear title requirements; and (2) there was insufficient evidence that CAFO's manure containment structures would be protected from inundation or damages in the event of a 100-year flood, a requirement of 10 C.S.R. 20-8.300. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) HB 1713 is constitutionally valid; and (2) there was sufficient evidence that CAFO structures met regulatory requirements. View "In re Trenton Farms RE, LLC Permit No. MOGS10520" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed in part the circuit court's judgment upholding Jeanette Huey's sale of her home located in the Clayton Terrace subdivision and holding the "one residence per lot" subdivision indenture provision was valid and precluded subdivision of the lot but reversed the portion of the judgment finding abuse of process on the part of the subdivision trustees as well as its awards of attorney's fees to Huey and the trustees, holding that the circuit court erred in part.The Supreme Court upheld the judgment upholding Huey's sale of her home despite allegations she failed to comply with the right of first refusal contained in the subdivision indentures as well as the circuit court's refusal to reject the amended indenture provision prohibiting the building of more than one residence per lot but reversed the circuit court's judgment holding the trustees' attempt to have the home sale set aside constituted an abuse of process and the court's award of attorney's fees to the trustees, holding (1) an abuse of process claim required more than the proof Huey offered that the trustees' purpose was allegedly improper; (2) the indenture provision not be avoided by attempting to divide the lot into two sub-lots; and (3) the attorney's fees awards were improper. View "Trustees of Clayton Terrace Subdivision, v. 6 Clayton Terrace, LLC" on Justia Law

by
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

by
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