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….

Aggrieved Party, Right to Appeal

Any “aggrieved” party to a final judgment may appeal. Section 512.020, RSMo. To be “aggrieved,” certain requirements must be present. The judgment must “operate prejudicially and directly on the party’s personal or property rights or interests, and such effect must be immediate, not merely a possible remote consequence.” Bi-State Development Agency of Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan Dist….

Contracts: Terminating Third-Party Beneficiary Rights

Certain third-party beneficiaries to a contract may sue for breach of contract. This is true even though they are not a signer to the contract. There are three types: donee, creditor, and incidental. Donee and creditor beneficiaries may sue as a third-party for breach of contract, but incidental beneficiaries cannot. There are certain situations when…

Gratuitous Services & Family Relationship Defense

A “family relationship” is an affirmative defense to certain claims. It is rare. It can arise as a defense to claims of unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, or adverse possession. The defense is that services were rendered out of love and affection and that one was not necessarily trying to seek money. “The existence of a…

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