Articles Posted in Missouri Supreme Court

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The widow of a man killed in an automobile accident with an uninsured motorist (UM) sued her and her husband’s automobile liability insurance carrier seeking UM coverage for her husband’s wrongful death. The trial court granted summary judgment for the insurer, ruling that the insurer’s liability was limited to an “owned-vehicle” partial exclusion in the couple’s policies that limited coverage when the insured was injured while occupying a vehicle owned by the insured but not covered by the policy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, because the partial exclusion was clear and unambiguous, the trial court did not err in finding that the partial exclusion limited the insurer’s liability in this case. View "Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) requires employers to withhold RRTA taxes on a personal injury plaintiff’s Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) suit. Plaintiff in this case received a judgment on his FELA claim against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF). BNSF tendered less than what it owed on the judgment, claiming that it was required to treat the judgment as if it were for lost wages and therefore subject to RRTA withholding taxes. The trial court concluded that BNSF failed to satisfy the judgment and ordered Safeco Insurance Company, BNSF’s surety, to pay Plaintiff the withheld amount. The Supreme Court affirmed, noting that damages received through a suit or settlement for personal injuries are normally not subject to retirement taxes, and holding that BNSF was incorrect in arguing that the RRTA creates an exception to this law for railroad retirement taxes. View "Mickey v. BNSF Ry. Co." on Justia Law

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Patrick O’Basuyi filed suit against several defendants (collectively, “TriStar”) for breach of contract, quantum meruit and fraudulent conveyance. TriStar responded by filing a counterclaim for malicious prosecution. O’Basuyi filed a motion for separate trial of TriStar’s counterclaims. The trial court overruled the motion for separate trial, determining that Mo. R. Civ. P. 55.06, which governs joinder of claims, authorized its denial of O’Basuyi’s motion for separate trial of the malicious prosecution claim. O’Basuyi subsequently sought a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the request writ, holding (1) Rule 55.06 does not permit either joinder or trial of a malicious prosecution counterclaim with the underlying claim; and (2) therefore, the trial court erred in permitting the joint trial of the defendants’ counterclaim and O’Basuyi’s claims. View "State ex rel. O'Basuyi v. Hon. David Lee Vincent III" on Justia Law

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Husch Blackwell Sanders, LLP represented Brian Nail in a dispute with his former employer over Nail’s stock options. Husch Blackwell negotiated a settlement that extended Nail’s option period, but Nail was prevented from obtaining the stock due to complications. Nail subsequently filed a legal malpractice suit against Husch Blackwell, arguing that the law firm negligently advised him regarding his remedies and negligently drafted the settlement agreement. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Husch Blackwell. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Nail failed to prove that Husch Blackwell’s alleged negligence caused his claimed damages. View "Nail v. Husch Blackwell Sanders, LLP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this negligence action against the Kansas City Royals Baseball Corporation after he was allegedly injured when he was hit in the eye with a hotdog thrown by Sluggerrr, the Kansas City Royals mascot. During the trial, the trial judge gave an instruction to the jury asking the jurors to decide whether the risk of suffering an injury by being struck by a hotdog thrown by Sluggerrr was one of the inherent risks in watching a Royals baseball game that Plaintiff assumed merely by attending the game. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of the Royals. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded, holding (1) whether a particular risk is inherent in watching a sporting event is a question of law for the court, not a question of fact for the jury; and (2) in this case, the risk of being injured by the mascot’s hotdog toss is not one of the inherent risks of attending a Royals game. View "Coomer v. Kan. City Royals Baseball Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed wrongful death and lost chance of recovery claims against Defendants-health care providers. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their first case but refiled the same claims in a second case. The trial court dismissed the second case for failure to file health care affidavits as required by Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.225. In their third case, Plaintiffs refiled their petition, along with the required affidavits. The trial court dismissed the third case as barred by the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment dismissing the second and third cases, holding (1) Plaintiffs failed to preserve their constitutional challenges to section 538.225 and failed to show they had substantially complied with the statute; and (2) the trial court correctly applied the statute of limitations in finding that the claims in the third case were time barred. View "Mayes v. Saint Luke's Hosp. of Kansas City" on Justia Law

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After Central Trust and Investment Company purchased Springfield Trust & Investment Company (STC), Central Trust filed an action against SignalPoint Asset Management, LLC, a registered investment advisor, for affiliating with STC’s ex-employee, who had acquired STC’s client list and had become an independent advisor representative of SignalPoint. The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of SignalPoint on its claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference with business relations, and civil conspiracy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Central Trust did not demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether SignalPoint “misappropriated” Central Trust’s client list as that term is defined by the Missouri Uniform Trade Secrets Act; (2) this failure also justified the grant of summary judgment against Central Trust’s claim of tortious interference with business relations; and (3) Central Trust’s civil conspiracy claim was moot. View "Cent. Trust & Inv. Co. v. SignalPoint Asset Mgmt., LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident. Group Health Plan, Inc. (GHP) paid Plaintiff’s medical bills. Plaintiff subsequently recovered a personal injury settlement from the tortfeasor. GHP, through its agent, ACS Recovery Services, Inc. (ACS), asserted a lien against Plaintiff’s settlement, seeking reimbursement or subrogation for its payment of Plaintiff’s medical bills. Plaintiff filed a class action petition against GHP asserting several claims based on the premise that Missouri law does not permit the subrogation of tort claims. ACS intervened. The trial court entered summary judgment for GHP and ACS, concluding that the Federal Employee Health Benefits Act (FEHBA) preempts Missouri’s anti-subrogation law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that FEHBA does not preempt Missouri law barring subrogation of personal injury claims. Remanded. View "Nevils v. Group Health Plan, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an action against his employer, BNSF Railway Company, for damages related to an injury he sustained while in the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiff asserted claims for negligence under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). The trial court granted judgment in favor of BNSF. Defendant appealed, asserting three claims of error relating to the trial court’s exclusion of certain evidence at trial. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in all respects, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in its evidentiary rulings challenged by Plaintiff. View "Lozano v. BNSF Ry. Co." on Justia Law

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The underlying case was a civil claim of premises liability arising from the stabbing of Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleged the stabbing occurred on Defendant’s property. At issue during trial was whether the stabbing occurred on Defendant’s property or in an alley behind Defendant’s property, thereby negating any liability for the assault. During trial, Defendant’s expert crime scene analyst, Louis Akin, testified that the stabbing occurred in the alley. The jury returned a verdict for Defendant. Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, alleging that Akin committed perjury by falsely testifying about his credentials as an expert witness. The trial court sustained Plaintiff’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Akin willfully and deliberately testified falsely about a material fact and that an improper verdict was occasioned by the perjured testimony. View "March v. Midwest St. Louis, LLC" on Justia Law