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Jungmeyer v. City of Eldon

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

April 21, 2015

JOAN JUNGMEYER, GLEN JUNGMEYER, DENNIS KILLDAY, LINDA KILLDAY, TIMOTHY KING, KIM RUIZ-TOMPKINS, ROBERT DUNSTAN, BILL KOEBEL, and VIRGIL CLARK, Appellants,
v.
CITY OF ELDON, MISSOURI, Respondent

Page 203

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Miller County, Missouri. The Honorable Ralph H. Jaynes, Judge.

Audrey E. Smollen, Jefferson City, MO, Attorney for Appellants.

Mark G. R. Warren and Todd E. Irelan, Jefferson City, MO, Attorneys for Respondent.

Before Division III: Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge, and Gary D. Witt and Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judges. Gary D. Witt and Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judges, concur.

OPINION

Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge

Page 204

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Miller County, Missouri (" trial court" ), granting summary judgment in favor of defendant City of Eldon, Missouri (" City" ) and against plaintiffs Joan and Glen Jungmeyer, Dennis and Linda Killday, Timothy King, Kim Ruiz-Tompkins, Robert Dunstan, Bill Koebel, and Virgil Clark (" Plaintiffs" ). Because the trial court erroneously based its summary judgment on its mistaken belief that a motion to strike does not constitute a " response" to a Rule 74.04[1] motion for summary judgment, we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with our ruling today.

Facts and Procedural History

Plaintiffs filed a six-count petition against City alleging, inter alia, Hancock Amendment violations, Due Process Clause violations, and Equal Protection Clause violations, relating to allegations that City unlawfully charged " higher water and sewer rates than necessary for improvements to its waterworks and sewer treatment works." City denied the allegations and ultimately filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 74.04. Alleging that City failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of Rule 74.04 in its motion for summary judgment, Plaintiffs objected to City's motion for summary judgment by filing a motion to strike the City's motion. Pending the trial court's ruling on the motion to strike, Plaintiffs alternatively moved the trial court for leave to file their substantive response to the merits of City's motion for summary judgment in the event the trial court would overrule Plaintiffs' motion to strike.

On August 25, 2014, the trial court issued its judgment in which it expressly concluded that Plaintiffs' motion to strike did not constitute a " response" as contemplated by Rule 74.04. Thus, the trial court concluded that: Plaintiffs had not " responded" to the motion for summary judgment within the time frame required by Rule 74.04; all of the material facts set forth in City's motion for summary judgment were deemed true; [2] and City's motion for summary judgment was granted. Additionally, the trial court's judgment denied Plaintiffs' motion to strike and motion seeking leave of court to file a substantive response to City's motion for summary judgment out of time.

Plaintiffs timely appealed, asserting that the trial court erred in: (1) denying Plaintiffs' motion to strike; (2) denying Plaintiffs' motion seeking leave of court to file a substantive response to City's motion for summary judgment out of time; and (3) granting City's motion for summary judgment.

Analysis

Because our ruling on Point III dictates the outcome of the remaining points, we analyze ...


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