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] evidentiary issues are actually contested, are [2] subject to conflicting interpretations, or [3] if reasonable persons might differ as to their significance.” Martin v. City of Washington, 848 S.W.2d 487, 492 (Mo. 1993). What is more, a party often receives the benefit of inferences derived from the evidence.

In a motion to dismiss, the pleading party (usually the plaintiff) receives the benefit of all inferences. The non-moving party on summary judgment receives similar benefits. Similarly, a plaintiff receives the benefit of all “reasonable inferences” at the directed verdict stage. Dhyne v. State Farm, 188 S.W.3d 454, 457 (Mo. 2006); compare Aughenbaugh v. Williams, 569 S.W.3d 514, 523 (Mo. Ct. App. 2018) (directed verdict is a “drastic remedy,” but Court cannot supply missing evidence or make forced inferences).

Scroll to Top