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Appeals and Estoppel

Estoppel is a legal theory which generally prevent litigants from taking inconsistent positions in Court. Common forms of estoppel include equitable estoppel and promissory estoppel. However, estoppel can also be used to preclude a party’s ability to appeal a judgment. Steven Family Trust v. Huthsing, 81 S.W.2d 664, 667 (Mo. Ct. App. 2002). More specifically, estoppel may consist of any voluntary act which expressly or implicitly recognizes the validity of a judgment, order or decree. Id. Therefore, it is generally recognized that when a defendant voluntarily pays a judgment rendered against him, he may not appeal from that judgment. Id. The reason for this is that when the judgment has been paid, the issue is settled and the question is moot. Id. Put differently, if the defendant’s surrender of proper is voluntary, he or she effectively concedes the correctness of the judgment, thereby rendering the appeal moot. Braveheart Real Estate Co. v. Peters, 157 S.W.3d 231, 233-34 (Mo. Ct. App. 2004).

Estoppel would not apply if there is an involuntary payment. Two Pershing Square, L.P. v. Boley, 981 S.W.2d 635, 638 (Mo. Ct. App. 1998). What constitutes an involuntary payment? Cases have given several examples: (1) a payment is involuntary when it is made to forestall collection and no supersedeas bond is posted; (2) it is involuntary when it is made after execution or writ of garnishment in aid of execution has issued because it is presumed to have been made as a result of legal coercion; and (3) it is involuntary if made to cut off the accrual of interest on a judgment.

Based on these harsh legal standards, it is important to consult legal counsel to carefully discuss how to proceed if an adverse judgment has been rendered. Contact with questions.