Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COLE COUNTY. THE HONORABLE PATRICIA S. JOYCE, JUDGE.
John M. Albright, Poplar Bluff, MO, for appellant.
Robert L. Presson, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.
BEFORE DIVISION ONE: THOMAS H. NEWTON, PRESIDING JUDGE, LISA WHITE HARDWICK AND ANTHONY REX GABBERT, JUDGES. ALL CONCUR.
Lisa White Hardwick, Judge
Amanda Pryor, as next friend for the four minor children of Zachary Snyder, appeals the circuit court's judgment dismissing her petition for a writ of mandamus against Douglas E. Nelson, the Commissioner of the Office of Administration of the State of Missouri, and Chris Koster, the Attorney General of the State of Missouri (collectively, " Respondents" ). Pryor sought the writ to compel Respondents to issue checks from the State Legal Expense Fund (" the Fund" ) to satisfy a judgment entered by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (" federal court" ) against a Department of Corrections employee for Snyder's wrongful death. On appeal, Pryor contends she stated a claim for mandamus relief. For reasons explained herein, we affirm.
Factual and Procedural History
Steven Julian was a Department of Corrections employee with the Fugitive Apprehension Unit when he attempted to apprehend Snyder, a parolee who was subject to electronic monitoring and had missed a curfew. In the course of returning Snyder to custody, Julian shot Snyder, who was unarmed, in the back, killing him.
Pryor, as next friend for Snyder's minor children, filed suit against Julian in federal court. The Attorney General provided Julian's defense, and Julian cooperated in his defense. The jury returned a verdict of $1 million in favor of the minor children and against Julian. The clerk of the court memorialized the jury's verdict in a judgment on August 15, 2012. After ruling on the parties' post-trial motions, the federal court entered a judgment on the verdict on August 8, 2013. In the judgment, the federal court apportioned the $1 million verdict between the minor children and ordered the children's attorney's fees paid out of the judgment. On August 13, 2013, Pryor made demand on Respondents, seeking the issuance of checks from the Fund to satisfy the judgment.
When Respondents failed to pay the judgment within ten days, Pryor filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Cole County Circuit Court. In her petition, Pryor alleged that, because the Attorney General had tendered a defense on behalf of Julian, a State employee, for conduct arising out of and performed in connection with his duties, the State was required under Section 105.711, RSMo Cum. Supp. 2013, to satisfy the verdict with money from the Fund. Pryor requested a preliminary order in mandamus commanding Respondents to file an answer and a judgment compelling Respondents " to complete the ministerial act of issuing payments against the [Fund]" on behalf of the minor children to satisfy the federal court's judgment.
The court entered a preliminary order in mandamus and directed Respondents to file a responsive pleading to Pryor's petition. Respondents filed an answer in which they asserted, among other things, that Julian shot and killed Snyder only after he " perceived a sudden, threatening motion from Snyder" and that the Attorney General had filed an appeal from the federal court's judgment.
Respondents also filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for judgment on the pleadings. They asserted that the petition failed to state a claim for mandamus relief because under Section 105.711.2, money in the Fund is available to pay only amounts required by " any final judgment." Respondents noted that the petition alleged only that the federal court entered a " judgment" and ignored the fact that that the Attorney General had filed an appeal from that judgment. Alternatively, Respondents argued that they were entitled to judgment on the pleadings because they alleged in ...