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.