Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division
STEVEN S. STERLING, ET AL., Respondents,
TROY LONG, Appellant.
from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The
Honorable Kenneth R. Garrett III, Judge
Before: Mark D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge, Presiding, Thomas H.
Newton, Judge and Gary D. Witt, Judge
D. WITT, JUDGE
Lee Long ("Long") appeals the entry of judgment
against him by the Circuit Court of Jackson County in favor
of Sterling Real Estate Acquisitions, LLC ("Sterling
Acquisitions") and Steven Sterling ("Sterling"
and collectively "the Respondents") and granting
the Respondents restitution of the premises and damages. Long
raises three points on appeal. Long challenges the
court's authority to grant the judgment (Point One) and
argues that the Respondents failed to prove each element of
the unlawful detainer action (Point Two) and that the
court's decision was against the weight of the evidence
(Point Three). We affirm.
began residing at 901 SW Woods Chapel Road, Blue Springs,
Missouri ("the Property") in late 2004 or early
2005. The Property originally belonged to his grandparents,
and after their passing the Property was placed into the
Villa De Alongi Trust ("the Trust"), of which Long
was a beneficiary. Within a year of Long taking up residence
at the Property, his uncle Jerry Bridge ("Bridge")
also began periodically residing at the Property.
2010, the Property was transferred out of the Trust and to
Bridge. Following the transfer, both Long and Bridge
continued to reside at the Property. There was no lease
agreement, oral or written, between Bridge and Long at this
time. In February of 2012, Sterling purchased the Property
from Bridge through Sterling Acquisitions and leased the
Property back to Bridge, which included an option for Bridge
to re-purchase the Property. Even though the lease was
between Sterling and Bridge, Sterling knew Long continued to
reside at the Property and agreed that Long could still
reside there so long as Bridge maintained his payments
pursuant to the lease.
made payments under the lease for approximately two years.
Bridge defaulted on payments in August of 2014, and on August
5, 2014 Bridge and Long were given notice to vacate the
Property. Bridge had vacated the premises sometime in the
middle of 2014, but Long continued to reside at the Property
and still resided there at the time of trial in 2015.
Respondents filed their Petition in December of 2014 and
their Amended Petition in April of 2015 for unlawful
detainer. The cause was tried to the court. The trial court
issued its judgment against Long and in favor of the
Respondents. The court awarded restitution of the premises to
the Respondents and damages in the sum of $18, 928.00
together with continuing damages in the sum of $1, 352.00 per
month until possession of the premises is restored to the
Respondents. Long now appeals.
As in any court tried case, we review the trial court's
judgment under the standard of review established in
Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976).
[Blue Ridge Bank & Trust Co. v. Trosen, 221
S.W.3d 451, 457 (Mo. App.W.D.2007) ("Trosen I")]
"Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court will be
affirmed unless it is not supported by substantial evidence,
it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously
declares or applies the law." McNabb v.
Barrett, 257 S.W.3d 166, 169 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008)
(internal quotation omitted). "We view the evidence, and
permissible inferences therefrom, in the light most favorable
to the trial court's judgment, and we disregard all
contrary evidence and inferences." Brown v.
Mickelson, 220 S.W.3d 442, 447 (Mo. App. W.D. 2007)
(internal quotation omitted). "We defer to the trial
court's factual findings, giving due regard to the trial
court's opportunity to judge the credibility of the
witnesses." Id. (internal quotation omitted).
This court "is primarily concerned with the correctness
of the trial court's result, not the route taken by the
trial court to reach that result. Thus, the judgment will be
affirmed if cognizable under any theory, regardless of
whether the reasons advanced by the trial court are wrong or
not sufficient." Trosen I, 221 S.W.3d at 457
(internal quotation and citation omitted).
Blue Ridge Bank & Trust Co. v. Trosen, 309
S.W.3d 812, 815-16 (Mo. App. W.D. 2010). Whether the trial
court had the authority to render a judgment in a particular
case is an issue that this court reviews de novo.
See Ground Freight Expeditors, LLC v. Binder, 359
S.W.3d 123, 126 (Mo. App. W.D. 2011).
Point One, Long argues that the trial court lacked authority,
pursuant to section 534.300,  to enter its judgment against
Long because he had been in continuous, peaceful, and
uninterrupted possession and occupation of the Property for a
period of more than ...