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Car Wash. Specialties, LLC v. Turnbull

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division

June 2, 2015

CAR WASH SPECIALTIES, LLC, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
HAROLD L. TURNBULL AND ELSIE W. TURNBULL, Defendants/Respondents

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lincoln County. Honorable Chris K. Mennemeyer.

FOR APPELLANT: Lee Reneau Elliott, Troy, Missouri.

FOR RESPONDENT: Joel David Brett, St. Charles, Missouri.

OPINION

Lisa S. Van Amburg, J.

INTRODUCTION

Car Wash. Specialties, LLC (" CWS" ) appeals the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Harold and Elsie Turnbull (" Landlords'" ) on CWS's petition for declaratory judgment regarding the extension of a lease agreement. CWS contends the trial court erred in interpreting the terms of the lease agreement, because it: (1) determined as a matter of law that the lease required CWS to notify Landlords that it intended to extend the lease term another five years; (2) failed to consider parol evidence and construe allegedly ambiguous language in the lease against Landlords; and (3) interpreted the lease to require CWS to forfeit a $200,000 payment owed to it by Landlords. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The undisputed facts are that CWS, by virtue of an assignment (the " Assignment" ) of a prior commercial lease (the " Lease" ), entered into an agreement with Landlords to lease a tract of land for a term of five years, for the purpose of conducting business as a carwash. The term of the assigned Lease ran from December 1997 to December 2002.[1] The Lease, however, provided CWS with an option to renew " for four (4) consecutive additional terms of five (5) years each . . ." if CWS notified Landlords in writing at least 90 days before the end of each term that it intended to renew the Lease. Upon renewal, the monthly rental rate would increase as follows:

" [1] Initial five year term . . . $670.00[,] First renewal term beginning December 2002 . . . $737.00[,] Second renewal term beginning December 2007 . . . $811.00[,] Third renewal term beginning December 2012 . . . $892.00[,] Fourth renewal term beginning December 2017 . . . $985.00 . . . ."

CWS timely renewed the Lease for the " First Renewal Term," running from December 2002 to December 2007. CWS also timely renewed the Lease for the " Second Renewal Term," running from December 2007 to December 2012.

Before the " Second Renewal Term" began, however, a dispute arose between the parties over access to the leased premises, culminating in litigation. In 2009, the parties resolved this prior dispute by entering into a written settlement agreement (the " Settlement" ).[2] The Settlement provided, in relevant part:

1. Within 30 days [Landlords] will pay [CWS] $201,000.00.
2. [CWS] will immediately agree to a change in access to their property . . . .
3. [CWS] will continue to pay rent to [Landlords] until such time [CWS] are [sic] notified that [Landlords] have entered into a contract with a third party to develop the carwash tract with [Landlords]' surrounding ground south of Jason Drive and west of Turnbull Trail. At such time [Landlords] will pay to [CWS] ...

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