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Posted in In the News on January 15, 2017   |  by Gary Burger

2016 - Five of This Year's Most Significant MO Supreme Court Findings

1. State v. Bazell - Due to a legislative blunder from the 2002 Criminal Code, the Supreme Court of Missouri overturned the felony convictions of a Defendant for stealing as the charges should not have been classified as felonies. It turned out that the legislative definition of "stealing" did not include "value of property or services" as an element, and therefore the Defendant's charges should have been misdemeanors. Consequently, this decision called into question thousands of criminal convictions that involved stealing since the 2002 code was enacted.

2. State ex rel. Heartland Title Services, Inc. v. Honorable Kevin D. Harrell - In a matter of the first impression, the Missouri Supreme Court examined Missouri's venue statute and whether an injury for a malpractice tort which occurred outside the state could be brought in Missouri. The Court ruled that venue was proper in any county in Missouri as long as both subject matter and personal jurisdiction are met.

3. Pestka v. State - Back in 2015, the Missouri General Assembly passed House Bill 150 (HB 150) which placed limitations on Missouri's unemployment benefits. Subsequently, Governor Nixon vetoed the Bill from being signed into law. When the Assembly voted to override the veto, they did so during the September 2015 veto session. The Missouri Supreme Court tossed the override because only bills returned by the Governor on or after the fifth day before the end of the regular legislative session can be taken up during a September veto session.

4. Mo. Petroleum Storage Tank Ins. Fund Bd. Of Directors v. Conoco Phillips Co. - In a significant State civil procedure decision, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that a potential intervenor does not have a right to an immediate appeal from an interlocutory order denying a motion to intervene as a matter of right. This was contrary to prior appellate court decisions which held that this type of intervention is immediately appealable.

5. Mickels v. Danrad - When a patient died of a terminal brain tumor, the family sued the defendant physician for negligently failing to diagnose the tumor on a prior date. When the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the physician for wrongful death under Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.080.1 the Missouri Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The Court stated that the same allegations were sufficient to state a cause of action under Missouri's survivorship statute (Mo. Rev. Stat 537.020) despite being insufficient for a wrongful death claim.