Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri

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The circuit court awarded Plaintiff $500,000 in damages on his claim against the Kansas City School District for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. The Supreme Court remitted the award to $403,189 and affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in all other respects, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in overruling the district’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict; (2) did not err in overruling the district’s motion for new trial based on alleged errors in a jury instruction; but (3) erred in overruling the district’s motion for remittitur because the award exceeded that which is allowed by law. View "Newsome v. Kansas City, Missouri School District" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, who ran a kennel, filed a petition against the Humane Society of the United States and Missourians for the Protection of Dogs alleging that various statements made in documents related to the ballot initiative entitled the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act were defamatory and placed her in a false light. The circuit court dismissed the petition on the grounds that the statements were absolutely privileged opinions and because Petitioner failed to plead any facts cognizable under a false light cause of action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing the petition because none of the statements pleaded in the defamation claims were actionable as a matter of law and because Petitioner did not plead any facts cognizable in a false light claim. View "Smith v. Humane Society of the United States" on Justia Law

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Russel Parker, an Indiana resident, brought a personal injury action against Norfolk Southern Railway Company, a Virginia corporation, under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, alleging cumulative trauma sustained during his years of employment with Norfolk in Indiana. Norfolk moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction alleging that Missouri had no personal jurisdiction. The trial court overruled the motion without stating the grounds for its ruling. Norfolk sought a writ of prohibition directing the trial court to dismiss the suit. The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition, which it subsequently made permanent, holding that Missouri did not have specific or general personal jurisdiction over Norfolk in the underlying personal injury action. View "State ex rel. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Hon. Colleen Dolan" on Justia Law

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When Plaintiff’s utility terrain vehicle (UTV) overturned the roof of the UTV failed and caused Plaintiff injuries. Plaintiff sued Chesterfield Valley Sports, Inc. (Defendant). Prior to trial, Plaintiff designated Herbert Newbold as an expert witness. Plaintiff then rescinded Newbold’s expert witness designation without disclosing Newbold’s expert analysis or conclusions. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion to amend the scheduling order to permit Newbold’s deposition. Plaintiff objected, asserting that Newbold’s opinions and conclusions were protected from discovery by the work product doctrine. The trial court sustained Defendant’s motion, concluding that Plaintiff had waived the protections afforded by the work product doctrine by designating Newbold as an expert witness. Plaintiff subsequently filed the instant petition for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition, which it made permanent, holding (1) designating an expert witness does not, standing alone, irrevocably waive the protections afforded by the work product doctrine; and (2) in this case, there was no disclosing event that waived the work product privilege. View "State ex rel. Malashock v. Honorable Michael T. Jamison" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured after she slipped and fell in a bathroom on the premises of Cass Regional Medical Center (Defendant). Plaintiff filed a petition for damages against Defendant, and the case was tried to a jury. The jury returned a verdict for Defendant. After trial, Plaintiff’s attorney discovered that one of the jurors had Googled the weather for the day of Plaintiff’s fall. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for a new trial, alleging juror misconduct. The trial court overruled Plaintiff’s motion, concluding that the presumption of prejudice had been rebutted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiff was not prejudiced by the juror’s misconduct based on the testimony of the non-offending jurors and the record as a whole. View "Smotherman v. Cass Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

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After discovering that petroleum from a service station’s underground storage tank had leaked and contaminated soil in the City of Harrisonville, the City filed a petition for damages against McCall Service Stations, the service station’s previous owner; Fleming Petroleum Corporation, the service station’s current owner; and the Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund. The jury returned verdicts in favor of the City on all counts and awarded the City both compensatory and punitive damages against the defendants. Thereafter, the circuit court remitted the punitive damages award against the Fund. The Supreme Court reversed the punitive damages award against the Fund and affirmed in all other respects, holding (1) because the City failed to allege cognizable claims against the Fund for actual or compensatory damages, it also cannot recover punitive damages against the Fund; but (2) the compensatory damages awarded against the Fund is not reversed because the Fund did not seek relief from that compensatory damages award. View "City of Harrisonville v. McCall Serv. Stations" on Justia Law

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Curt and Cheri Peters filed a personal injury action against Patrick Terrio, alleging that Mr. Peters was injured at work because Terrio, a supervisory co-employee, was negligent. Peters and Terrio were employed by Tramar Contracting, Inc., a company that specialized in providing services and products to general contractors in the construction industry. Among its services, Tramar delivered dowel baskets, which are 200-pound rebar paver baskets used in concrete construction, manufactured by Wady Industries. Wady Industries shipped the dowel baskets to Tramar stacked, one on top of the other, without warning, bracing, or other precautionary measures. Upon arriving at Tramar, the dowel baskets were kept in this stacked manner in a staging area until they were needed. A row of baskets fell from a flatbed truck onto Peters, causing permanent and catastrophic injuries. The trial court dismissed the Peterses’ claims against Terrio, finding they failed to allege Terrio owed Peters a duty outside of their employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace. The Peterses appealed, asserting that their petition alleged sufficient facts to support a common law negligence action against Terrio. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the Peterses pleaded facts establishing only duties that were a part of the employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace; their petition failed to state a negligence cause of action against Terrio. View "Peters v. Wady Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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While driving a commercial motor vehicle for his employer, Kevin Parr was killed when his truck was involved in a single-vehicle accident. Plaintiffs, Parr’s two children and father brought a wrongful death action against three of Parr’s supervisory co-employees, Charles Breeden, Wendy Cogdill, and Melany Buttry. The circuit court entered judgment on the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. On appeal, plaintiffs asserted that the circuit court erred in granting judgment in favor of the defendants because there was a genuine dispute of material fact as to the defendants’ negligence as well as to whether the defendants breached duties that arose from federal regulations that are separate and distinct from the employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace for all employees. After review, the Missouri Supreme Court found that the duties plaintiffs alleged defendants owed to Parr were part of their employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace. Further, federal regulations did not prove the existence of a personal duty separate and distinct from the employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace. Because plaintiffs failed to establish that defendants owed Parr a duty separate and distinct from the employer's nondelegable duty to provide a safe workplace, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment. View "Parr v. Breeden" on Justia Law

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Appellant was a federal employee with a health insurance plan governed by the Federal Employee Health Benefits Act (FEHBA). Appellant filed suit against Group Health Plan, Inc. and ACS Recovery Services, Inc. (collectively, Respondents) after Respondents enforced a subrogation lien against the proceeds from Appellant’s settlement of a personal injury claim. The trial court entered summary judgment for Respondents, concluding that FEHBA preempts Missouri anti-subrogation claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that 5 U.S.C. 8902(m)(1) of FEHBA does not preempt Missouri law prohibiting subrogation of personal injury claims. The United States Supreme Court vacated the Court’s decision and remanded for a determination as to whether a new regulation promulgated by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) established the FEHBA preempts Missouri’s anti-subrogation law. The Supreme Court held that the OPM regulation did not establish that FEHBA preempts Missouri law prohibiting the subrogation of personal injury claims. Remanded. View "Nevils v. Group Health Plan, Inc." on Justia Law

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Joseph Mickels died from an incurable, terminal brain tumor. Mickels’ family (collectively, Plaintiffs) brought a wrongful death action against Defendant, a physician, for negligently failing to diagnose the tumor. Plaintiffs presented evidence that even though Mickels certainly would have died of his brain tumor with or without Defendant’s alleged negligence, he would not have died as early as he did had the brain tumor been properly diagnosed. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that Plaintiffs could not establish that Defendant’s negligence caused Mickels’ death so as to be actionable under Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.080.1. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that Plaintiffs cannot sue for wrongful death under section 537.080.1, but the allegations in the petition do state a cause of action for negligence that would have been actionable under Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.020 if brought by Mickels’ personal representative. Remanded. View "Mickels v. Danrad" on Justia Law