Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of Platte County, Missouri The
Honorable James Walter Van Amburg, Judge
Before: Mark D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge Presiding, James Edward
Welsh, and Alok Ahuja, Judges
Edward Welsh, Judge
Nicole Properties and Lyle Odo appeal the circuit court's
judgment denying their request for an award of attorney's
fees and litigation expenses in their lawsuit against Kevin
Shafinia. Finding no error, we affirm.
Odo is the president of Kristen Nicole Properties, Inc.,
("KNP"), a Missouri corporation. The underlying
conflict in this case arose over a certain parcel of land
located in Platte County, to which KNP initially acquired
title in August 2000.
2008, KNP filed a lawsuit against Kevin Shafinia and others
associated with him. It alleged that, in early 2005, without
KNP's prior knowledge or consent, the defendants entered
onto this land and began excavation, grading, and other
construction activities, causing damage to the land. KNP
sought various forms of relief for that damage.
parties eventually reached a settlement agreement, under
which Shafinia and the other defendants agreed to pay KNP the
sum of $25, 000 in exchange for KNP's agreement to
transfer title of the land to Shafinia. On July 1, 2010, Odo
executed a "Full and Final Settlement and Release"
on behalf of KNP, formalizing the parties' agreement.
Thereafter, the defendants paid KNP $25, 000, and Odo
delivered a quitclaim deed to Shafinia's attorneys
transferring title of the property to Shafinia. By agreement
of the parties, the circuit court then dismissed the lawsuit
learning that the quitclaim deed to Shafinia had not been
recorded, KNP filed it with the Recorder of Deeds in October
2010. Three months later, on January 11, 2011, Shafinia filed
a quitclaim deed with the Recorder of Deeds transferring
title to the same land to Odo, in his individual capacity.
This was done without Odo's knowledge, consent, or
involvement. Odo learned of the transfer in early November
2011 after receiving notices from the City of Kansas City
demanding that he rectify City Code violations on the
Odo (in his individual capacity) thereafter filed a lawsuit
against Shafinia. The petition asserted four counts: Count I
sought a declaratory judgment; Count II requested injunctive
relief; Count III was for specific performance; and Count IV
raised a breach of contract claim. Basically, the relief
sought was for Shafinia to void the purported title transfer
to Odo, to compel transfer of the title back to Shafinia, and
to prohibit any future title transfers to KNP, to Odo, or to
any person or entity associated with them.
circuit court granted Shafinia's motion for summary
judgment on Counts III and IV. Then, in September 2015,
Shafinia signed a document confessing judgment as to Counts I
and II and for, among other things, "plaintiffs'
reasonable attorney fees, litigation expenses, and costs
incurred in this litigation to be found by the Court, if
hearing on September 25, 2015, the parties agreed that
Shafinia's confession of judgment resolved all issues
except for the matter of attorney's fees. The Appellants
submitted an "Attorney Fee and Expense Summary" for
the court's aid in determining "what reasonable fees
might be appropriate, " and Shafinia contested the
requested fees and expenses. The court heard argument by the
parties and then took the matter under advisement.
initial Order and Judgment, the court granted the basic
relief sought in Counts I and II and awarded $422 in court
costs. The court declined to award attorney's fees and
litigation expenses, noting that, "pursuant to the
American Rule . . . each party bear[s] its own attorney's
fees." Following a hearing on KNP and Odo's motion
to amend the judgment, the court issued an Amended Judgment
denying the motion, rejecting ...