Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kesler-Ferguson v. Hy-Vee, Inc.[1]

Opinion handed down December 16, 2008[1]
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held: (1) a trial court, when ruling on a Batson challenge to a peremptory strike, may assess the credibility and demeanor of the striking party’s explanation to determine whether the explanation is pretexual; and (2) the trial court’s determinations are dependent on its evaluation of credibility and demeanor in the courtroom at the time of the challenge and should be afforded wide deference.

In re Van Orden[1]

Opinion handed down December 16, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that the “clear and convincing evidence” burden of proof in civil commitment proceedings for sexually violent predators is constitutional. The Court found that the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which was required prior to the 2006 amendment to Missouri’s Sexually Violent Predator Act, is inappropriate for a civil commitment proceeding.[1]

State v. Latall[1]

Opinion handed down December 16, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held: (1) the defendant met his burden of production by introducing evidence that he had good cause for not paying child support owed to his child’s mother; and (2) the State failed to present sufficient evidence to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant lacked good cause for his failure to pay, thus, overturning his conviction for criminal nonsupport.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Great Southern Bank v. Director of Revenue[1]

Opinion handed down November 4, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The "taken in trade" provision of Missouri tax law exempts a party from a sale or use tax on a newly acquired asset up to the value of the traded-in asset. In a case of first impression, the Supreme Court of Missouri strictly construed the exemption and held that a transaction by Great Southern Bank did not qualify as a tax-exempt trade because it was a mere legal fiction created to minimize taxation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dickerson v. State[1]

Opinion handed down October 28, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that an evidentiary hearing under a motion for post-conviction relief was warranted based on appellant’s claim that his trial counsel was ineffective and that the absence of facts in the record was not enough to refute the appellant’s claims. The criminal defense attorney had failed to object to the client’s shackling at trial. The record did not say whether appellant had been shackled.[1]

State v. Freeman[1]

Opinion handed down October 28, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that the jury that convicted Samuel A. Freeman of first degree murder had a sufficient basis to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the trial court did not err in admitting demonstrative evidence of bottles of the type that the state asserted Freeman used in the murder; and the trial court did not err in refusing to admit a note Freeman’s mother purportedly wrote.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

State ex rel. Office of Public Counsel v. Public Service Commission of the State of Missouri[1]

Opinion handed down October 14, 2008 [1]
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court once again directed the Missouri Public Service Commission (“PSC”) to vacate an administrative order that increased utility rates. On this occasion, the PSC simultaneously re-approved the tariff increase while vacating its original administrative order, thus failing to properly follow the previous order of the Supreme Court. The act of re-approving the tariff in the vacating action was contra to "[t]he general rule . . . that when an order or judgment is vacated, the previously existing status is restored and the situation is the same as though the order or judgment had never been made. The matters in controversy are left open for future determination."[2] This litigation highlights the expense and time delay inherent in the adversarial process Missouri has implemented to regulate utilities.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sennett v. National Healthcare Corporation[1]

Opinion handed down, Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, September 24, 2008
Link to Mo. App. Ct. Opinion

Mike Sennett, the son of deceased nursing home patient Edith D. Schmeets, brought a wrongful death action against National Healthcare Corporation, the company that owned the nursing home where his mother died. National Healthcare Corporation sought to compel arbitration against Sennett because his mother had signed an agreement to arbitrate all claims. The Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, held that because Sennett’s wrongful death action was not derivative of Schmeets’s injury, the arbitration agreement could not bind Sennett. This holding clarified the prior Missouri Supreme Court case of State ex rel. Burns v. Whittington which seemed to imply that a wrongful death action is derivative of the deceased estate’s underlying tort action.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

State ex rel. Doe v. Moore[1]

Opinion handed down August 26, 2008[1]
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held: (1) trial courts may unilaterally modify the terms of a defendant’s probation, even if those modifications include additional requirements that were not included at the time the defendant agreed to the plea agreement; and, (2) changes imposed by the court that could not have been required at the time of the defendant’s guilty plea may be imposed during the defendant’s probation. Doing so would not violate the constitutional protection against ex post facto legislation.

State v. McLaughlin[1]

Opinion handed down August 26, 2008[1]
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that if a jury deadlocks at the punishment stage of a capital trial, judges may undergo the required statutory analysis and impose a death sentence despite the jury’s inability to agree on a punishment.

State ex rel. Rogers v. Cohen[1]

Opinion handed down August 26, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion


The Missouri Supreme Court held that a transcript of a recorded interview taken in anticipation of litigation is not discoverable by a grand jury subpoena unless it consists of tangible work product, and substantial need and undue hardship are shown. Furthermore, a court may never order disclosure of intangible work product, even if a party demonstrates substantial need and undue hardship.

State ex. rel. Wyeth v. Grady[1]

Opinion handed down August 26, 2008[1]
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

In State ex. rel Wyeth v. Grady, the Missouri Supreme Court refused to issue a writ of prohibition that would have prevented the St. Louis Circuit Court from denying a motion to dismiss a lawsuit based on forum non conveniens[2]. Plaintiffs were hormone therapy users who sued drug manufacturers for injuries sustained from use of their pharmaceuticals.[3] The court reasoned that because the defendants could not show that taking the case would be an undue burden for the Missouri court system or that trying the case in Missouri courts would be oppressive to the companies, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the forum non conveniens motion. [4]

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Janice Sides, et al. v. St. Anthony's Medical Center, et al.[1]

Opinion handed down August 5, 2008[1]

The Missouri Supreme Court held that an expert can testify in a res ipsa loquitur-based medical malpractice suit to show that no injury would have occurred without defendant's negligence. The case, Sides v. St. Anthony's Medical Center, was a case of first impression on the issue.[2] Previously, Missouri appellate courts disallowed plaintiffs from using expert witnesses when proceeding under a res ipsa loquitur theory in medical malpractice cases. Courts instead required that before a res ipsa theory could be forwarded that "laypersons…know, based on their common knowledge or experience, that the cause of plaintiff's injury does not ordinarily exist but for negligence of the one in control,"[3]

Thursday, July 31, 2008

In re the Care and Treatment of Jackie Holtcamp v. State[1]

Opinion handed down July 31, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that the Missouri Attorney General’s Office could petition to commit a prisoner to the Department of Mental Health as a sexually violent predator, regardless of the reasons for the prisoner’s present incarceration.[1]

Steven Crenshaw v. State of Missouri[1]

Opinion handed down July 31, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

In Crenshaw v. State, The Missouri Supreme Court expanded on its rule that if a movant is abandoned by counsel the appropriate remedy is to return the movant to where he or she would have been absent the abandonment.[2] Also, the Court held that trial counsel is not ineffective for failing to subpoena a witness if counsel reasonably believes that the witness will testify without a subpoena.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jarrett v. Jones[1]

Opinion handed down July 29, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that a truck driver who crashed into a negligent driver and allegedly suffered emotional distress qualified as a “direct victim.” The truck driver had witnessed the body of the deceased daughter of the negligent driver he crashed into. The Court rejected the application of the stricter “zone of danger test” applicable to bystanders, and thus the truck driver was not barred from recovering damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress.[1]

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Re: Mark Belz[1]

Opinion handed down July 15, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that with significant mitigating factors a lawyer who intentionally misappropriates client funds may be sanctioned by indefinite suspension instead of automatic disbarment.[1] The Office of the Chief Disciplinary Council (OCDC) argued that Missouri precedent held that disbarment was the only sanction justified in a misappropriation case. The Court rejected the argument, reasoning that mitigating factors may be considered in determining appropriate punishment.[2]

Monday, June 30, 2008

Vincent McFadden v. State of Missouri[1]

Opinion handed down June 30, 2008[1]
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that an untimely filing of a post-conviction relief motion was excused because the public defender, with whom the movant had an attorney-client relationship, abandoned the movant by untimely filing his motion.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Egan v. St. Anthony’s Medical Center[1]

Opinion handed down Feb. 5, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that members of a private hospital’s medical staff have an equitable cause of action for injunctive relief when the hospital fails to abide by the bylaws in revoking hospital privileges.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Daugherty v. City of Maryland Heights[1]

Opinion handed down January 31, 2008[1]

The Missouri Supreme Court held that Missouri Approved Jury Instruction 31.24 "contributing factor" standard can properly be applied at the summary judgment stage of an employment discrimination claim brought under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gavan v. Bituminous Casualty Corp.[1]

Opinion handed down January 15, 2008
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

Where non-permanent employee was injured in a workplace accident by the acts of permanent co-employees, the non-permanent employee was denied status as a “temporary worker” and consequently denied recovery under the employer’s comprehensive general liability insurance policy.

Bloomquist v. Schneider[1]

Opinion handed down January 15, 2008
Link to Supreme Court Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that section 516.200 of the Missouri Revised Statutes violated the Commerce Clause because it tolled the statute of limitations with respect to claims against defendants who had been Missouri residents upon the accrual of the cause of action, but moved out of the state before the expiration of the statute of limitations.

State v. Ward[1]

Opinion handed down January 15, 2008
Link to Supreme Court Opinion

Where criminal defendant was charged with and convicted of possession of a controlled substance with an intent to deliver, the trial court correctly prevented defendant from testifying because he refused to take an oath or affirmation, as required by statute.

Vandyne v. Allied Mortgage Capital Corp.[1]

Opinion handed down January 15, 2008
Link to Supreme Court Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that the circuit court abused its discretion in certifying Plaintiffs' class definition because it included an improper merit determination and insufficiently definite terms, but agreed with the circuit court’s finding that the mere fact that a class attorney and named plaintiff were related did not amount to a violation of Supreme Court Rule 52.08’s adequacy of representation provision.

Kidde America, Inc. v. Director of Revenue[1]

Opinion handed down January 15, 2008 Link to Supreme Court Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that RSMo §§ 32.068 and 32.069 were not in conflict with RSMo § 143.811 when calculating the rate of interest a taxpayer is entitled for overpaying income tax, because § 143.811 is relevant for determining interest prior to January 1, 2003, while §§ 32.068 and 32.069 are relevant for determining interest on and after that date.

State v. Johnson[1]

Opinion handed down January 15, 2007
Link to Supreme Court Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court held that a capital defendant bears the burden of proving mental retardation by a preponderance of the evidence. The dissent argues the burden is on the State since the statute is ambiguous.