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Harris v. Mortgage Prof'ls, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 23, 2015

Sherrita Richardson Harris, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Mortgage Professionals, Inc., Defendant Hartford Fire Insurance Company, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted: December 8, 2014.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City.

For Sherrita Richardson Harris, Plaintiff - Appellant: Marty W. Seaton, Christopher Paul Sweeny, John E. Turner, Turner & Sweeny, Kansas City, MO.

For Hartford Fire Insurance Company, Defendant - Appellee: Boris Alexander Kaupp, Aaron G. Weishaar, Reinert Weishaar & Associates, Saint Louis, MO.

Before WOLLMAN, COLLOTON, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 947

BENTON, Circuit Judge.

On March 11, 2004, Sherrita Richardson Harris closed on a home with a mortgage loan from Mortgage Professionals, Inc. (MPI). To be licensed in Missouri, MPI, as obligor and principal, bought two " Missouri Residential Mortgage Brokers Bonds" from Hartford Fire Insurance Company, its surety. See § 443.849 RSMo Supp. 2001. The surety bonds stated that the two parties were " jointly and severally" bound for payment to any person " who may have a claim against" MPI.

Harris later sued MPI for violating the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, sections 407.010-.1500 RSMo 2000. Harris obtained a judgment for compensatory

Page 948

damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees. Hartford had notice of the suit against MPI, but chose not to intervene. As surety, Hartford failed to pay the judgment amount due on the bonds.

On October 4, 2012, Harris sued Hartford for breach of contract, vexatious refusal to pay, and equitable garnishment. The district court granted Hartford summary judgment, rejecting the ten-year statute of limitations in section 516.110(1) RSMo 2000, in favor of the three-year statute in section 516.130(2) RSMo 2000. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court reverses and remands.

This court reviews de novo a grant of summary judgment, viewing facts most favorably to the nonmovant. Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). Summary judgment is appropriate when " the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).

Federal courts apply the law of the forum to determine statutes of limitation. Guaranty Trust Co. of N.Y. v. York, 326 U.S. 99, 108-09, 65 S.Ct. 1464, 89 L.Ed. 2079 (1945). In a diversity case, this court is bound by the opinions of the state's highest court. Owners Ins. Co. v. Hughes, 712 F.3d 392, 393 (8th Cir. 2013). In Missouri, statutes of limitation are procedural. Renfroe v. Eli Lilly & Co., 686 F.2d 642, 646 ...


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