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, presently-existing controversy admitting of specific relief, (2) a plaintiff with a  legally protectable interest at stake, (3) a controversy ripe for judicial determination, and (4) an inadequate remedy at law. Id. 

Element (4) can be confusing. An “adequate remedy at law” exists for purposes of declaratory relief if there is a different statutory vehicle available. Edwards v. City of Ellisville, 426 S.W.3d 644, 657 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013) (“[t]he declaratory judgment procedure cannot be used where a different specific statutory method of review is provided.”). It cannot be used as a substitute for existing remedies. Harris v.
State Bank and Trust Company of Wellston, 484 S.W.2d 177, 178-79 (Mo. 1972).

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