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Rencher v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fifth Division

May 20, 2014

ERNESTINE RENCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
TISHAURA JONES, Appellant/Cross-Respondent and BENJAMIN PHILLIPS, HAROLD MINOR, DANIEL C. PARSONS AND HERMAN CANAMORE, JR., Respondents/Cross-Appellants,

Appeal from the Circuit Court of City of St. Louis. Hon. Joan L. Moriarty.

FOR APPELLANT: Matthew C. Hans, Doreen Dodson, St. Louis, MO.

FOR RESPONDENT: Elkin L. Kistner, St. Louis, MO.

Before Robert M. Clayton III, C.J., Robert G. Dowd, Jr., J. and James E. Welsh, Sp.J.

OPINION

Page 473

PER CURIAM

Tishaura Jones, in her capacity as Treasurer of the City of St. Louis (" Treasurer" )[1] appeals the judgment of the trial court in favor of Daniel Parsons, Benjamin Phillips, Harold Minor, and Herman Canamore (collectively " Plaintiffs" ) on the liability portion of their petition for declaratory judgment. Plaintiffs cross-appeal the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Treasurer on the issof damages. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Pursuant to Section 82.485.1 RSMo (2000),[2] Treasurer is the supervisor of parking meters for the City of St. Louis. The St. Louis City Revised Code, Section

Page 474

17.62.230 (1990), requires Treasurer to establish a Parking Meter Division (" PMD" ), which is responsible for a number of duties relating to parking meters in the City of St. Louis. Plaintiffs[3] were employees of the PMD, and their employment was terminated when Treasurer outsourced certain duties of the PMD to a private contractor. Plaintiffs filed a petition for declaratory judgment and for damages, asking that their termination be declared unlawful and that Treasurer's outsourcing of PMD functions was contrary to law. At Plaintiffs' request, the trial court bifurcated the issues of liability and damages.

Following trial on the issue of liability, the court determined Treasurer's outsourcing of the PMD's duties violated both Section 82.485, and St. Louis City Code Section 17.62.230. However, in light of the fact Plaintiffs were at-will employees, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Treasurer on Plaintiffs' claim for damages. The trial court found Plaintiffs could not prove their termination was a violation of public policy, and therefore their claim for damages failed as a matter of law. Treasurer now appeals the court's finding that the outsourcing of the duties of the PMD was unlawful. Plaintiffs cross-appeal the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Treasurer on the issue of damages.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review


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