Adequate Remedy at Law, Declaratory Judgments

Declaratory relief is not a “general panacea for all real and imaginary ills.” Missouri Soybean v. Missouri Clean Water, 102 S.W.3d 10, 25 (Mo. 2003). “It is not available to adjudicate hypothetical or speculative situations that may never come to pass.” Id. There are four elements: (1) a justiciable controversy that presents a real, substantial,…

Stare Decisis, Precedent

Stare decisis — “to stand by things decided” — is a legal rule. The rule is that previous cases decided are binding or persuasive on courts deciding similar subsequent cases. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the rule is of “fundamental importance,” promoting “stability, predictability, and respect for judicial authority.” Hilton v. South Carolina Public…

Question of Fact, Trial

When a “question of fact” exists, a trial is often needed. It is improper for a Court to decide factual disputes without a trial, particularly on a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment. But, when does a “question of fact” exist? It exists in one of three situations. “A factual question exists if [1]…

Merger Doctrine, Contracts

A “merger clause” is a common provision in a contract. It will usually state something along the lines of the contract being a “complete and exclusive statement of the agreement.” If a contract is a final, complete agreement, the parol evidence rule prohibits prior or contemporaneous oral agreements which vary or contradict the written terms…

Trust Language: “Necessary or Advisable” Distributions

The language of a trust is extremely important. And when a will, trust, and other estate documents form part of the same plan, they are interpreted together. Indeed, “[w]hen a trust and will form parts of the same plan, they must be construed together.” Shriners Hospital for Children v. Schaper, 215 S.W.3d 185, 189-90 (Mo….

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