Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Appellant's Rule 75.06(b) motion to set aside the dismissal of a wrongful death suit filed by his deceased son's grandmother and the overruling of his motion to intervene in that suit, holding that Appellant never became a party to the grandmother's suit and that there was no judgment to be set aside. The grandmother filed a petition alleging wrongful death after the police shot and killed Appellant's son. Appellant sought to join the grandmother's suit, but the motion failed to comply with the requirements of Rule 52.12(c). The grandmother later dismissed her lawsuit. Appellant later filed his motion to set aside the judgment and to intervene in that suit. The circuit court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Appellant failed to comply with Rule 52.12 governing intervention and his motion was never ruled on prior to the grandmother's voluntary dismissal of her suit, Appellant never became a part to the grandmother's suit; and (2) there was no judgment to be set aside because the grandmother voluntarily dismissed her suit, and that dismissal took effect immediately upon filing. View "Henry v. Piatchek" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of prohibition it issued directing the circuit court to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Relators for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that Plaintiff failed to show that Relators were "at home" in Missouri and failed to identify any conduct by Relators in Missouri out of which Plaintiff's claims arose. Plaintiff filed suit against Relators, Kansas business entities, alleging personal injury sustained while working at an apartment complex in Kansas. Relators sought a writ of prohibition on the ground that the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over them. The court of appeals overruled the motion. Relators then petitioned the Supreme Court for the same relief. The Supreme Court granted relief, holding (1) Relators were not "at home" in Missouri to such an extent that they were subject to the general jurisdiction of Missouri courts; and (2) Relators' contacts with Missouri were not sufficient to create general or specific jurisdiction on their own. View "State ex rel. Cedar Crest Apartments, LLC v. Honorable Jack Grate" on Justia Law

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In this appeal from the circuit court's distribution of proceeds from Nicklaus Macke's wrongful death settlement the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Appellant's motion for a second continuance and in apportioning only a small percent of the wrongful death settlement to Appellant, holding that the circuit court did not err or abuse its discretion. Nicklaus, the son of Pamela Eden and Loren Macke (Macke), suffered fatal injuries in a motor vehicle collision with Austin Patton. Macke negotiated a settlement with Patton's insurance company, which offered to pay its policy limit in satisfaction of Macke's wrongful death claim against Patton. The circuit court apportioned ninety-eight percent of the settlement to Nicklaus' father and two percent to Eden, who played little to no role in Nicklaus' childhood and upbringing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in overruling Appellant's motion for continuance; and (2) the circuit court did not erroneously apply the law in making its apportionment judgment, and the apportionment was not against the weight of the evidence. View "Macke v. Patton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent in part and quashed in part a preliminary writ it issued in response to Brad Halsey's petition seeking to direct Respondent, the Honorable Jennifer M. Phillips, to dismiss Jennifer Dachenhausen's claims against him, holding that Dachenhausen's assault and battery claims were time-barred but her emotional distress counts properly alleged claims independent from traditional common law actions. Dachenhausen filed suit against Halsey for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Halsey filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Dachenhausen's claims were time-barred. Respondent overruled Halsey's motion to dismiss. Halsey then petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted it in part, holding (1) the face of Dachenhausen's petition demonstrated that the statute of limitations had run on her assault and battery claims; and (2) the petition did not affirmatively show that Dachenhausen's claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress were time-barred. View "State ex rel. Halsey v. Honorable Jennifer M. Phillips" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court entering summary judgment in favor Insured in this insurance coverage dispute, holding that the circuit court erred in finding that Insured was entitled to underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage under three insurance policies Insured maintained with Insurer after the death of her daughter (Decedent). When Driver crashed the vehicle she was driving, Decedent, the passenger, sustained fatal injuries. Insured asserted a wrongful death claim against Driver, and Driver settled the claim for her insurance policy's limits. Thereafter, Insured sought UIM coverage from Insurer. Insurer provided UIM coverage pursuant to one of the insurance policies, but Insurer denied UIM coverage under the other two insurance policies. Insured then brought this suit seeking a declaration that UIM coverage existed for Decedent and alleging breach of contract. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Insured. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that under the plain language of two of the policies at issue, Decedent was not an insured entitled to UIM coverage. View "Seaton v. Shelter Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of mandamus requiring Respondent to transfer the underlying declaratory judgment action from Greene County to Pulaski County, holding that Greene County was an improper venue because none of the defendants in the underlying action resided in Greene County. An automobile accident that killed Juanita Prater occurred in Pulaski County. Relators filed a wrongful death action against the driver of the other car, Dakota Ball, in Pulaski County. Ronald Prater filed a personal injury action against Ball in Pulaski County. The parties later agreed to transfer the wrongful death and personal injury action to Greene County. USAA General Indemnity Company filed a declaratory judgment action in Greene County seeking a declaration that the auto policy it issued to Ball's stepmother did not cover Ball. None of the defendants resided in Greene County. After unsuccessfully filing a motion to transfer venue, Relators filed a petition for a writ of mandamus or prohibition. The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus, holding that the circuit court failed to execute its ministerial duty to transfer the declaratory judgment action from Greene County to a proper venue. View "State ex rel. Prater v. Honorable Jason R. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court against St. Luke’s Surgicenter-Lee’s Summit LLC on a negligent credentialing claim brought by Thomas and Paula Tharp, holding that the Tharps failed to make a submissible case of negligent credentialing. Thomas Tharp suffered injuries when a surgeon operating out of St. Luke’s damaged his hepatic duct and common bile duct. The Tharps filed suit against the surgeon and St. Luke’s and then settled with the surgeon. The Tharps proceeded to trial against St. Luke’s on the claim that St. Luke’s negligently granted the surgeon staff privileges at its hospital. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Tharps, and the circuit court entered judgment in favor of the Tharps. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was insufficient evidence to support the Tharps’s negligent credentialing claim. View "Tharp v. St. Luke's Surgicenter-Lee's Summit, LLC" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erroneously declared the law when it concluded that an employee’s violation of employer’s rules regarding vehicle operation were sufficient to preclude coverage under the omnibus clause of the employer’s insurance policy. James Campbell, an employee of BNSF Railway Company, rear-ended Ricky Lee Griffitts while driving a BNSF company vehicle. Campbell was intoxicated at the time of the collision. Numerous lawsuits ensued. This appeal was from an equitable garnishment action that Griffitts filed against BNSF and its insurer, Old Republic (collectively, Respondents), to collect on an unsatisfied judgment entered against Campbell in an earlier action. In this action, Griffitts claimed that Campbell was a permissive user under the omnibus clause of the insurance policy Old Republic issued to BNSF. The circuit court concluded that Campbell did not have permission to use the company vehicle at the time of the accident due to his violation of BNSF’s policy on the use of alcohol and drugs, and therefore, Campbell was not a permissive user under the omnibus clause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Campbell had permission to use the company vehicle at the time of the accident and that it did not matter, for purposes of insurance coverage, that Campbell was drunk. View "Griffitts v. Old Republic Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court entering judgment in favor of Sherry Spence on her wrongful death cause of action for the death of her husband. Spence sued BNSF Railway Company for the wrongful death of the decedent, who was killed after a BNSF train struck his pickup truck at a railroad crossing. Spence alleged BNSF was negligent for failing to trim the vegetation around the railroad crossing and asserted a claim of respondeat superior liability against BNSF, alleging that its train crew members were negligent for failing to stop or slow the train. A jury found in favor of Spence, assessing ninety-five percent of the fault to BNSF for the conduct of its train crew and for its failure to maintain the railroad crossing, and five percent of the fault to the decedent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in (1) overruling BNSF’s motion for a new trial based upon a juror’s intentional nondisclosures; (2) submitting the verdict directors in two jury instructions and the corresponding verdict form; and (3) overruling BNSF’s motion for a new trial on the grounds that an instruction regarding the duties owed by BNSF was improperly submitted. View "Spence v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (Commission) declining to approve the agreement entered into Employer and Employee that Employer would make a lump sum payment to fully satisfy Employee’s award of permanent total disability benefits. Employee received a work-related injury and filed a workers’ compensation claim against Employer. A final award granted Employee permanent total disability benefits to be paid weekly. The parties later agreed that Employee would make a lump sum benefit to fully satisfy the award. The Commission declined to approve the agreement, concluding that the Commission had no authority to approve the agreement either as a settlement under Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.390 or as an application for a “commutation” under Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.530. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission did not have the authority to consider or approve the agreement under section 287.390; and (2) the Commission properly refused to approve a commutation pursuant to the agreement. View "Dickemann v. Costco Wholesale Corp." on Justia Law