Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court entered in favor of Kohner Properties, Inc. in this rent-and-possession action, holding that circuit courts may exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis to determine whether an in custodia legis procedure is appropriate in a particular case. On appeal, Johnson argued that the circuit court erred in barring her from asserting the implied warranty of habitability as an affirmative defense and counterclaim because she remained in possession of the premises without depositing her unpaid rent to the circuit court in custodia legis. In making its ruling, the circuit court relied on the in custodia legis procedure in King v. Moorehead, 495 S.W.2d 65 (Mo. App. 1973). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that although the in custodia legis procedure in King was dicta, that was immaterial because such dicta has been “dutifully followed by our circuit courts for almost five decades” and therefore constituted the status quo in Missouri. The Court went on to hold that, given the absence of contrary authority from the Court or contrary legislation from the General Assembly, the circuit court could not be faulted for relying on King when it barred Johnson’s affirmative defense and counterclaim. View "Kohner Properties, Inc. v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Despite the recent amendments to rent and possession suits, the legislature’s removal of the right to a trial de novo with the possibility of a jury at the circuit court in rent and possession cases still results in parties having the right to a jury trial in the associate division where the suit was initially filed. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s request for a jury trial after Defendant was sued by her landlord (Plaintiff) for defaulting on rent payments. The trial court concluded that Defendant was not entitled to a jury trial in light of the 2014 statutory amendments to rent and possession suits under Mo. Rev. Stat. chapter 535. In reversing, the Supreme Court held that parties in rent and possession actions brought under Mo. Rev. Stat. 535.040 are still entitled to a jury trial even after the 2014 amendments. View "Brainchild Holdings, LLC v. Cameron" on Justia Law