Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mayes v. Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City

Opinion issued
May 27, 2014

Link to Missouri Supreme Court Opinion

Family members brought a suit against doctor and hospital for wrongful death and lost chance of recovery after the death of Mr. Mayes on March 28, 2008.  After voluntarily dismissing the first suit, the plaintiffs filed a second suit but did not file the required affidavit by a health care provider certifying merit required by RSMo 538.225.  Defendants successfully moved to dismiss for failure to comply with statutory requirements, as the statute mandated dismissal.  After dismissal, the plaintiffs brought a third suit, but the third case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had run on both claims.  Plaintiffs appealed, arguing the unconstitutionality of 538.225 for the second and third cases and that they had substantially complied with the statutory requirements in the second case.  The Supreme Court of Missouri held that the constitutional objections were not preserved in the second case, that there was no substantial compliance, and the statute of limitations was properly applied and barred the third case.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Minact, Inc. v. Director of Revenue

Opinion issued
April 15, 2014

Link to [insert court] Opinion

         The Supreme Court of Missouri recently ruled that income from a “rabbi trust” used to finance a corporation’s deferred compensation plan for executives is business income subject to taxation and apportionment.[i]  In 2007, MINACT, INC., a Mississippi corporation that does business in multiple states, including Missouri,[ii] claimed $667,773 as non-business income on its tax return, thereby exempting that income from state taxation.[iii]  However, when the Missouri Director of Revenue refused to allow this claim, MINACT appealed to the Administrative Hearing Commission. On appeal the Commission held that the income was not business income as it failed to satisfy the transactional or functional tests employed by Missouri courts in finding the existence of business income for state taxation purposes.[iv]  Subsequently, the Director of Revenue appealed the Administrative Hearing Commission’s decision.[v]  Ultimately, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Director of Revenue, finding the income met the functional test because it is used to attract and retain important employees.[vi]   Thus, the Administrative Hearing Commission’s decision was overturned and the case remanded.[vii]

Commercial Barge Line Co. and American Commercial Barge Line, LLC, n/k/a American Commercial Lines, LLC, vs. Director of Revenue

Opinion issued
April 29, 2014

Link to Missouri Supreme Court Opinion

Commercial Barge Line and American Commercial Barge Line (collectively, Taxpayers) challenged the Administrative Hearing Commission’s determination that they owed Missouri sales and use tax on goods and supplies received by their towboats while they traveled the Mississippi River.  The Taxpayers argued that the taxes assessed against them violated the Commerce Clause because they were not fairly related to any service that Missouri provides to the Taxpayers. The Supreme Court of Missouri ultimately found the Taxpayer’s argument unpersuasive and affirmed the Administrative Hearing Commission’s ruling.   In so holding, the Court emphasized that the taxes were fairly related to services that the Taxpayers received from the state and were, therefore, not in violation of the Commerce Clause.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Stanley v. State[1]

Opinion handed down February 4, 2014

Travis M. Stanley was charged with two counts of failure to register as a sex offender, and eventually negotiated a plea agreement in which the prosecuting attorney agreed to recommend a lesser sentence in return for guilty pleas on both counts.[2]  The circuit court, however, was not bound by this agreement and gave Stanley the maximum sentence for each count.[3]  Stanley filed a pro se post-conviction motion, which was amended by court-appointed post-conviction counsel from the public defender’s office.[4]  Stanley’s first post-conviction counsel eventually withdrew, though, and a new attorney from the public defender’s office entered an appearance.[5]  Stanley’s new counsel filed a second amendment to the motion, which the circuit court overruled.[6]  The case was eventually transferred to the Supreme Court of Missouri, which held that: (1) the time limit for filing the second amended post-conviction motion was governed by the date Stanley’s first post-conviction counsel was appointed; (2) Stanley was not entitled to a hearing on the claim of ineffective counsel; (3) the circuit court was not obligated to make disclosures or allow Stanley to withdraw his guilty pleas; and (4) Stanley’s plea counsel was not deficient for failing to object to the sentence imposed.[7]

Central Trust & Investment Co. v. SignalPoint Asset Management, LLC [1]

Opinion handed down February 25, 2014

I.        Facts and Holding

Troy Kennedy was a director and executive officer for Springfield Trust & Investment Company (“STC”) until Central Trust and Investment Company (“Central Trust”) purchased STC on November 20, 2009.[2] When Central Trust purchased STC, Kennedy left his job and formed his own corporation, ITI Financial Management, LLC (ITI).[3] While the sale was still being negotiated, Kennedy placed a list of clients and client information in a safety deposit box.[4]  Kennedy started soliciting Central Trust’s clients, and, as of six months later, 85 of ITI’s 90 customers were former customers of Central Trust.[5]

In February of 2010, Kennedy signed an agreement with SignalPoint Asset Management, LLC (SignalPoint) to be an Independent Advisor Representative.[6] All of Kennedy’s emails go through SignalPoint, and Kennedy tells his clients he is affiliated with SignalPoint.[7] The agreement states that Kennedy is an independent contractor of SignalPoint and has no right to bind SignalPoint.[8]

Central Trust filed a petition against Kennedy, ITI, and SignalPoint alleging three claims: (1) misappropriation of trade secrets, (2) tortious interference with business relations, and (3) civil conspiracy.[9] SignalPoint filed for summary judgment for all three claims.[10]  The circuit court sustained SignalPoint’s motion, finding there was no genuine issue of material fact and that SignalPoint was entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to all three claims asserted against it.[11]  Central Trust appealed, and while the appeal was pending, dismissed the claims against Kennedy and ITI.[12]

Naylor Senior Citizens Housing, LP. ET AL. v. Dilks [1]

Opinion handed down February 25, 2014

John Dilks (“Dilks”) filed a pro se petition on behalf of himself, Naylor Senior Citizens Housing, LP and Naylor Senior Citizens Housing II, LP (collectively “Partnerships”) to recover damages from construction companies for harm he suffered as a result of a flood on September 22, 2006. [2] Dilks’ signature was the only one present on the original petition.[3] Sides Construction Company, Inc. and Schulz Engineering Services, Inc. (collectively “Defendants”) filed a motion to dismiss on October 29, 2011 claiming Dilks lacked standing to assert claims on behalf of the Partnerships because he was not a licensed attorney.[4] In response, Dilks filed a “Reply to Motions to Dismiss” arguing the original petition was effective regardless of Dilks’ improper conduct in signing and filing it on behalf the Partnerships; the Partnerships should be given reasonable time to file an amended petition; and Dilks had standing to assert his own claims because his damages were separate  and distinct from the Partnership’s damages. [5] The trial court agreed with Defendants and dismissed the claims Dilks brought on behalf of the Partnerships because Dilks was not a licensed attorney and the original petition had no legal effect. [6] Dilks hired counsel, and on March 30, 2012, filed a motion on behalf of the Partnerships requesting that the trial court reconsider its March 7 order dismissing the Partnerships’ claims in the original petition or at least certify it for immediate appeal under rule 74.01(b). [7] The trial court denied the motion to reconsider, but made the findings required for immediate appeal on May 2, 2012. [8] The Missouri Supreme Court assumed jurisdiction under Mo. Const. art. V, § 10 and the trial court’s judgment was affirmed. [9]

Nevils v. Group Health Plan, Inc. [i]

Opinion handed down February 4, 2014

Jodie Nevils, a federal government employee, was injured in an automobile accident. Group Health Plan (“GHP”), under contract with the federal Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”), was Nevils’ insurer. After Nevils recovered a personal injury settlement from the individual responsible for the accident, GHP asserted a lien against the recovery because its contract with OPM directed it to do so. Section 5 of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Act (“FEHBA” or ‘the Act”) provides that the terms of any insurance contract made under the act supersede or preempt contrary state or local law. The Supreme Court of Missouri held that the term in GHP’s contract with Nevils providing GHP with a right to subrogation did not overcome Missouri law prohibiting such subrogation. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thomas A. Schweich v. Jeremiah W. Nixon [1]

Opinion handed down October 1, 2013

Thomas A. Schweich, the Missouri State Auditor, filed a declaratory judgment action to challenge Missouri State Governor Jeremiah W. Nixon’s announcement to withhold funds from the 2012 fiscal year (“FY 2012”) state budget for the Missouri legislature, the Supreme Court of Missouri, and the office of the Auditor.[2] The trial court held that the Governor had complete discretion to withhold or reduce expenditures provided that actual revenues were less than the estimated revenues at any time until the final day of the fiscal year.[3] However, the Governor was not authorized to increase appropriations based on an “estimated” designation on the line item.[4] After review, the Supreme Court of Missouri held that the Auditor did not have standing to seek declaratory judgment and the issue was ripe for review.[5] Accordingly, the action was dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 84.14.[6]

Darryl Burton v. St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners [i]

Opinion handed down September 24, 2013

In March, 1985, Darryl Burton was convicted for the murder of Donald Ball and sentenced to 75 years in prison.Twenty-four years later, a Missouri trial court found that Burton’s trial had been fundamentally unfair and ordered his release. Following his release, Burton brought this action against several police officers involved in his arrest and conviction and the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners. Burton claimed that the officers had violated his Sixth Amendment right to fair trial, Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleged that the officers had recklessly or intentionally manipulated exculpatory evidence, used impermissibly suggestive identification procedures, conspired to deprive him of his constitutional rights, and brought his claim against the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners based on an allegation that these violations were due to improper customs and policies of the board. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants based on qualified immunity, finding that Burton had created no genuine issues of material fact regarding his claims. The Eighth Circuit, reviewing the decision de novo, affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. This outcome is consistent with the case law requiring evidence of bad faith in order to impose liability on law enforcement officers.