Articles Posted in Missouri Supreme Court

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Plaintiffs filed suit against West County Motor Company for violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) and for conversion. Each plaintiff paid a deposit to West County to secure the purchase of a vehicle and signed a vehicle buyer's order providing that "all deposits are non refundable." However, all plaintiffs but one alleged that West County told them their deposits were refundable if the purchase was not completed. When Plaintiffs decided not to purchase their vehicles, West County told them their deposits would not be refunded. The trial court dismissed the MMPA claims for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the trial court's dismissal of that portion of Plaintiffs' claims alleging violations of the MMPA based on violations of Mo. Rev. Stat. 364.070.4; and (2) reversed the trial court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims alleging violations of the MMPA based on conversion, lack of good faith, and an illegal liquidated damages clause, as Plaintiffs' allegations of conversion, unlawful liquidated damages, and lack of good faith were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. View "Ward v. W. County Motor Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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Darren Berry filed suit against Volkswagen, alleging violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). The trial court certified a class on behalf of Missouri owners and lessors of Volkswagen vehicles (Class). The action settled. After the the settlement for Class was approved and paid out, the trial court held a hearing regarding attorneys' fees. The trial court awarded Class counsel attorney's fees after determining the lodestar amount to be $3,087,320 and applying a multiplier of 2.0 for a total award of $6,174,640 in attorneys' fees. Volkswagen challenged the award of attorneys' fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the lodestar amount was within the trial court's discretion; and (2) the multiplier applied to the lodestar amount was not an abuse of the trial court's discretion. Remanded. View "Berry v. Volkswagen Group of Am., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought suit against multiple health services providers (Defendants), alleging they were victims in a scheme of improper surgical billing by Dr. Richard Coin and his business, Reconstructive Microsurgery Associates. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that Plaintiffs had not shown they were damaged by the health services providers' alleged wrongdoing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs had sufficient standing in this action; but (2) summary judgment was warranted because establishing damages was an essential element of Plaintiffs' claims, and they did not show they suffered any damages. View "Roberts v. BJC Health Sys." on Justia Law

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Borrower brought suit against a payday loan company (Company), arguing that its arbitration agreement containing a class waiver was unenforceable. The trial court found that Company's arbitration agreement was unconscionable and unenforceable because its class waiver deprived borrowers of a meaningful remedy. The Supreme Court reversed in light of AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, holding that that the trial court erred in finding that Company's arbitration agreement was unconscionable based on its class waiver and should have instead adjudicated whether the arbitration agreement was enforceable in light of Borrower's evidence relevant to her claims regarding ordinary state-law principles that govern contracts but that do no single out or disfavor arbitration. Remanded. View "Robinson v. Title Lenders, Inc." on Justia Law

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After My Truong's home was foreclosed on, a trustee's sale was held, and Fannie Mae purchased Truong's home. Despite the sale, Truong continued to maintain possession of his home. Fannie Mae filed a petition for unlawful detainer. The circuit court granted Fannie Mae's motion for summary judgment and awarded Fannie Mae $6,000 in damages. Truong appealed, challenging the constitutional validity of Mo. Rev. Stat. 534.010, among other things. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that Truong's failure to apply for a trial de novo pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 512.180.1, prior to seeking relief in the Supreme Court, deprived the Court of the authority to adjudicate his claims. View "Fannie Mae v. Truong" on Justia Law

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Insured appealed the circuit court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to Broker on Insured's claims that Broker violated a fiduciary duty of loyalty to Insured by not disclosing that Broker received contingent commissions from Insurers for directing Insured's business to them and that Broker kept all interest earned on the premiums Insured sent it between the time Broker received them and the time they were forwarded to the Insurers. In addition, Insured argued that Broker breached a duty to find it the least costly policy possible. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) brokers do not have a duty to find insureds the lowest possible cost insurance available to meet their needs; (2) Missouri law specifically authorizes a broker to receive commissions from the insurer and to deposit premiums in an account pending their payment to the insurer or refund to the insured; but (3) the trial court erred by dismissing the petition because it could not be said as a matter of law that Emerson could not recover on one or more of its claims. Remanded. View "Emerson Elec. Co. v. Marsh & McLennan Cos." on Justia Law

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Max and Glenna Overbey recovered judgments against Chad Franklin National Auto Sales North, LLC (National) and Chad Franklin (Franklin) for fraudulent representations in violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act made in connection with National's sale of a vehicle to the Overbeys. Franklin appealed, and the Overbeys appealed the trial court's reduction of the punitive damage verdict as required by statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the award against Franklin was fully supported by the evidence; and (2) the limit of punitive damages did not violate the Overbeys' constitutional rights or the separation of powers doctrine. View "Estate of Overbey v. Chad Franklin Nat'l Auto Sales N., LLC" on Justia Law

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Robert and Janet McKeage (Relators) sued Bass Pro Outdoor World in a five-count petition for charging a document preparation fee for purchasing a boat. Relators subsequently sought class certification of both in-state and out-of-state customers based upon the purchase agreement's choice of law provision, which required the application of Missouri law to all transactions. The circuit court certified a class that was limited to contracts entered into within the state. Relators sought relief by way of a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion by limiting the putative class members to only those whose transactions occurred in Missouri where the class of plaintiffs that Relators sought to certify was limited to those who were charged a document preparation fee and whose contracts contained the Missouri choice of law provision. View "State ex rel. McKeage v. Circuit Court (Cordonnier)" on Justia Law

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CACH, LLC, a debt collector, brought an action against Jon Askew for an alleged outstanding debt owed by Askew. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of CACH and against Askew. Askew appealed, contending that CACH did not properly demonstrate that it had been assigned the debt in question and that the circuit court improperly admitted an exhibit based on the business records exception to the hearsay rule. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the disputed exhibit was erroneously admitted into evidence by the circuit court under the business records exception; (2) without admission of the exhibit into evidence, CACH failed to provide any competent evidence of the alleged assignment of Askew's account to CACH; and (3) without evidence of the validity of this assignment, CACH did not demonstrate it had standing to pursue the claim. View "CACH, LLC v. Askew" on Justia Law

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JLB Corporation, a mortgage brokering service, entered into an agreement with Bonnie Hargis to refinance her home. JLB then prepared Hargis's loan application and other financial disclosure documents. JLB alleged it played no role in drawing the note or deed of trust, which were prepared by third parties, and it did not charge for their preparation. Hargis, however, filed a three-count petition against JLB, alleging, inter alia, that JLB engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of JLB on all counts. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the grant of summary judgment to JLB as to the first two counts relating to the unauthorized practice of law where the record showed that JLB assisted Hargis only in preparing financial documents and did not show that JLB procured or assisted in the drawing of Hargis' note, deed of trust, or other legal documents; and (2) reversed the grant of summary judgment to JLB on the third count alleging unjust enrichment, as JLB's summary judgment motion failed to negate any element of Hargis' unjust enrichment claim. Remanded. View "Hargis v. JLB Corp." on Justia Law