Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court awarding Maddison Schmidt $15 million in compensatory damages and $23 million in punitive damages for her personal injury claim. The court held that the circuit court did not err in overruling Abbott Laboratories, Inc.’s (1) pretrial motion to transfer venue, (2) pretrial motion to sever Schmidt’s claim from other plaintiffs’ claims, (3) motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict on Schmidt’s failure-to-warn claim, and (4) motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict on Schmidt’s demand for punitive damages. View "Barron v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc." on Justia Law

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The trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing prospective juror 24 to serve on the jury in this medical negligence case. Following a jury trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of defendant hospitals. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by failing to strike for cause juror 24 because she expressed a disqualifying bias in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by finding, without additional questioning, that prospective juror 24 was not disqualified because she was successfully rehabilitated when the entire voir dire was considered, including her later statement that she could follow the trial court’s instructions. View "Thomas v. Mercy Hospitals East Communities" on Justia Law

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Bishop & Associates, LLC (B&A) filed an action against Ameren Corp. and others (collectively, Ameren and the supervisors) alleging wrongful discharge in violation of public policy and other claims after Ameren terminated its relationship with B&A. The circuit court entered summary judgment for Ameren and the supervisors on all counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Missouri does not recognize a cause of action for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy for independent contractors; (2) the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment to the defendants on B&A’s claim of breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (3) Missouri case law does not support breach of contract claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy; and (4) the circuit court did not err in entering summary judgment on B&A’s tortious interference with a business expectancy claim. View "Bishop & Associates, LLC v. Ameren Corp." on Justia Law

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Robert Johnson brought a products liability case against Cottrell Inc. and Auto Handling Corp. At the conclusion of Johnson’s case the trial court directed a verdict in favor of Auto Handling on all of Johnson’s theories against it. The jury returned verdicts in favor of Johnson on his claims against Cottrell of negligence as submitted in Instruction 10 and of strict liability failure to warn as submitted in Instruction 13. The trial court entered judgment against Cottrell on the negligence verdict for $1,150,332. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court erred in granting Auto Handling’s motion for directed verdict; and (2) Instruction 10 was error, and because the error was prejudicial the judgment in favor of Johnson on his negligence claims against Cottrell is reversed. Because of the intertwined nature of the evidence and the various theories against the two defendants, the case is remanded for retrial as to the negligent maintenance and inspection claim against Auto Handling and as to Johnson’s negligence claims and strict liability failure to warn claim against Cottrell. View "Johnson v. Auto Handling Corp." on Justia Law

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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