Monday, January 4, 2016

State ex rel. Strong v. Griffith

Opinion handed down June 7, 2015
        In Strong v. Griffith, the Supreme Court of Missouri made no exceptions to its death penalty requirements as they pertain to the mentally ill.  That case involved the examination of a writ of habeas corpus filed by Richard Strong, who was convicted and later sentenced to death for his actions in a heinous double murder.  Strong contended that at the time he committed the murders, he was mentally ill, and therefore he was unfit to be executed.  However, the court rejected Strong’s assertion, reasoning he was not entitled to the relief he sought.  Strong was mentally fit at the time of trial, so he was ineligible to be granted a stay of execution under Missouri Revised Statute Sections 552.020 and 552.030.  Additionally, Strong did not present evidence of any past mental illness during the penalty phase, and thus the court had no basis to review the death sentencing under Section 565.032.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Anderson v. Union Electric Co.

Opinion handed down June 16, 2015
I.  Facts and Holding 
        Union Electric (“UE”) owns the Lake of the Ozarks (“Lake”).[1]  Anderson owns land along the Lake’s shoreline.[2]  Anderson alleged that UE prohibited individuals who own real estate along the Lake from building, maintaining, or using docks that extend over the Lake without first obtaining a permit from UE.[3]  As a condition prerequisite of obtaining these permits, UE is enabled to impose various requirements that regulate the way in which landowners supply electricity to their docks.[4]  Anderson also alleged that UE required them to pay a “use fee.”[5] 
        Anderson supplied electricity to her dock; however, she chose not to protect this supply with ground fault interrupt (“GFI”) devices to prevent injury from electrical faults.[6]  Anderson’s children were killed by a stray electrical current while swimming in the Lake near the dock.[7]  Anderson alleged that UE was negligent in the following respects: (1) UE failed to “adequately inspect the Anderson dock to ensure adequate ground fault interrupter protection”;  (2) UE failed to include, as a precondition to dock permitting, GFI protective devices at or above the seawall; (3) UE failed to warn dock owners, including the Andersons, “of the need for ground fault interrupter protective devices at or above the dock seawalls”; and (4) “UE failed to warn dock owners along the Gravois arm of anticipated increase in wear and tear on docks as a consequence of the permitting of the [nearby] restaurant property.”[8]
        UE moved to dismiss Anderson’s suit on the ground that it is immune under the Recreational Use Act (“RUA”):[9] 
The circuit court agreed, finding “Pursuant to R.S.Mo. § 537.346, Ameren owes no duty of care to any person who enters on the land without charge to keep his land safe for recreational use or to give any general or specific warning with respect to any natural or artificial condition, structure, or personal property thereon.”[10] 
The Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed the trial court’s holdings.[11]

Friday, January 1, 2016

Grider v. Bowling

Opinion handed down May 11, 2015
Duke and Kami Lee Grider filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against the Springfield, Missouri Police Department, alleging the Department violated the Griders’ statutory and constitutional rights by using excessive force.[1] Both parties moved for summary judgment, and an interlocutory appeal followed.[2]  The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri held that Officer Brandon Bowling was not entitled to qualified immunity, and Officer Bowling appealed.[3]  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed, granting the officer qualified immunity.[4]