101 South Hanley, Suite 1280 Clayton, MO 63105
314.283.8930; henry@elsterlaw.com

Legal Articles

Trust Litigation: Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Breach of Trust

Trustees are fiduciaries who must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. To win on a claim of breach of fiduciary duty or trust, a plaintiff needs to prove that there is a (1) fiduciary duty, (2) a breach of that duty, (3) causation and (4) harm/damages. Matter of Wilma G. James Trust, 487 […]

Read More

Disqualification of Counsel, Attorney; Conflict of Interest

Attorneys have a duty of loyalty to their clients and must work in the client’s best interests. For this reason, it is obvious that an attorney cannot simultaneously represent both a plaintiff and a defendant in the same lawsuit. Things become much more murky when a lawyer represents a client in one matter and then […]

Read More

Defamation: Privilege Defenses

Defamation consists of (1) publication of a (2) defamatory statement that (3) identifies the plaintiff, (4) is false, (5) that is published with the requisite degree of fault and (6) damages to the plaintiff’s reputation. Nazeri v. Missouri Valley College, 860 S.W.2d 303 (Mo. 1993). There are, among others, two prominent defenses that a defense […]

Read More

Closing Arguments

Closing arguments in a jury trial is often the best time an attorney can persuade the jury. The evidence has been heard and there is an opportunity for an attorney, unlike when examining a witness on direct or cross-examination, to directly tell the jury (or judge) why the evidence justifies a decision in one party’s […]

Read More

Option Rights and Preemptive Rights in Contracts

Contracts can have option rights or preemptive rights. An option, in the context of real estate, usually gives a person a power to compel the owner of the property to sell it at a stipulated price whether or not he or she is willing to part with ownership. Anderson v. Parker, 351 S.W.3d 82, 831 […]

Read More

Exceptions to Sovereign Immunity

In almost any lawsuit against a governmental entity, the government will argue that it is immune from the suit under sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity insulates the government from most suits for money damages. At the state level in Missouri, however, there are numerous exceptions to sovereign immunity in Section 537.600, RSMo. For instance, under Section […]

Read More

Modifying Irrevocable Trusts by Consent

When Missouri updated its trust laws in around 2005, several statutes were added that permitted irrevocable trusts to be modified. An irrevocable trust, as the name suggests, is generally not subject to amendment or change. Most revocable trusts become irrevocable and not subject to change after the settlor/trust-maker dies. The problem is that many irrevocable […]

Read More

Successor Trustee Authority, Release of Liability

The general rule in Missouri is that successor trustees, unless the terms of the trust document say otherwise, possess all of the duties and authority of the initial trustee and/or any predecessor trustee. Therefore, a successor trustee usually possesses all of the “specific powers” of a trustee articulated in Section 456.8-816, RSMo. One of the […]

Read More

Quotient Verdicts, Juries

In civil cases in Missouri, verdicts generally require nine of twelve jurors — and the verdict must be based on a preponderance of the evidence. This is in contrast to criminal jury verdicts which require unanimity — and a conclusion that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, quotient verdicts are […]

Read More

Intra-Corporate Immunity, Defamation

Defamation generally consists of a (1) publication, (2) a defamatory statement, that (3) identifies the plaintiff, that is (4) false, that is (5) published with the requisite degree of fault and (6) damages to the plaintiff’s reputation. Nazeri v. Missouri Valley College, 860 S.W.2d 303 (Mo. banc 1993). The publication must be to a third-person. […]

Read More