Abandoned Pleadings

Pleadings are the main legal documents that set forth a parties claims and defenses. They “present, define, and isolate the issues, so that the trial court and all parties have notice of the issues.” Norman v. Wright, 100 S.W.3d 783, 786 (Mo. 2003). Although Missouri is a fact-pleading state, only “ultimate facts” — those the jury must find to return a verdict — must be asserted; evidentiary facts are not necessary. Schlafly v. Cori, 647 S.W.3d 570, 573 (Mo. 2022).

Pleadings are frequently amended, usually to account for evidence learned through discovery. When a pleading is amended, the prior pleading is “abandoned.” “An abandoned pleading is not considered for any purpose in the case; it becomes a mere `scrap of paper’ insofar as the case is concerned.” Thomas v. H’Doubler, 627 S.W.3d 449, 455 (Mo. App. S.D. 2021). There is, however, at least one prominent exception to this rule. “An abandoned pleading is admissible in evidence against the party in whose behalf it was originally filed if the pleading contains admissions or statements of fact against the interest of such party.” Carter v. Matthey Laundry & Dry Cleaning Company, 350 S.W.2d 786, 791 (Mo. 1961).

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