Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable
Joan L. Moriarty
S. ODENWALD, Judge.
Scott ("Scott") appeals from the trial court's
judgment entered after a bench trial. Scott sued his
landlord, Janice King ("King"), for specific
performance to enforce a sale agreement for the leased
property. King counterclaimed for unjust enrichment and
ejectment, arguing that Scott occupied her property without
paying rent. The trial court found in King's favor on
both Scott's petition and King's counterclaims. On
appeal, all five of Scott's points on appeal fail to
comply with Rule 84.04(d)(1),  but we exercise our discretion to
review Scott's first two points ex gratia. In Point One,
Scott argues that the trial court erred in awarding King
unpaid rent for the past nine years because the relevant
statute of limitations was only five years. In Point Two,
Scott claims that the trial court's award of prejudgment
interest under Section 408.020 was improper because King's
unjust-enrichment claim was unliquidated.
Scott failed to specifically assert the relevant statute of
limitations in his motion to dismiss King's counterclaim,
he waived that defense. Further, because King's
unjust-enrichment claim for unpaid rent was liquidated, the
trial court's award of prejudgment interest was proper
under Section 408.020. Points Three, Four, and Five are
dismissed for failing to comply with Rule 84.04(d)(1).
Accordingly, the trial court's judgment is affirmed.
and Procedural History
2006, King agreed to rent a property in the City of St. Louis
to Scott. The parties' written agreement required Scott
to "pay $250.00 per month for the renting of the
property[.]" Further, the agreement required Scott to
bring the property up to code by spending an additional $250
per month on improvements. Once the property was up to code,
the agreement provided that King would sell it to Scott for
$15, 000, minus the amount of rent already paid-in other
words, the $250 monthly rental payments was to be applied
towards the purchase price of the property. The agreement
also specified how Scott would make payments. Scott was
required to send the monthly rent by a postal money order,
and King would send back a receipt for that payment.
December 2013, Scott sued King. Scott's petition outlined
the 2006 written agreement and alleged that he had spent six
years bringing the property up to code, using considerable
time, money, and "sweat equity." The petition
further alleged that Scott notified King that the property
was up to code and that he was prepared to purchase the
property by paying the outstanding balance. In July 2013,
King notified Scott that he still owed $8000 to purchase the
property, and Scott agreed to that price, according to the
petition. In August 2013, King allegedly presented Scott with
a written purchase agreement reflecting the $8000 purchase
price, but then King refused to go through with the sale.
Thus, Scott's petition sought specific performance to
force the sale.
January 2015, Scott amended his petition by consent. The
amended petition reasserted the original count for breach of
contract and added additional counts for quantum meruit and
unjust enrichment. After the denial of King's motion to
dismiss the amended petition, King filed an answer and
counterclaims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and
ejectment. The unjust-enrichment count alleged that Scott had
occupied the property from June 2006 through the present, a
period of over nine years, without paying rent. The ejectment
count sought return of the property, alleging that
Scott's occupation was unlawful.
subsequently moved to dismiss King's counterclaim. As
grounds for the motion, Scott asserted: "e. the rent
allegedly owed by Scott arose from a contract entered into
between the parties in June 2006. King failed to bring this
action in a timely manner. As such, she is permanently barred
by the statute of limitation[s] from bringing it in
2015[.]" The trial court took Scott's motion to
dismiss with the case.
case proceeded to a bench trial. At trial, the parties
disputed whether Scott had made the rental payments and had
improved the property. Scott maintained that he had paid King
$250 in rent monthly, and had paid a total of $15, 000. King
and her daughter testified that Scott made very few
payments. Regarding his duty to bring the property up to
code, Scott testified that he made many improvements, but he
admitted that he had never obtained permits or inspections
from the city to confirm that the property was up to code.
Scott provided the trial court with almost no receipts
evidencing his rental payments or the improvements he claimed
to have made to the property.
the trial court issued its findings of fact, conclusions of
law, and judgment, ruling against Scott on all counts of his
petition and for King on her counterclaims for unjust
enrichment and ejectment.
the rental payments, the trial court found Scott's
testimony to be "inconsistent, contradictory, and not
credible." The trial court found that Scott had been
unjustly enriched by occupying the property without paying
rent. The trial court determined that the rent due from June
2006 through the date of the order (November 2015) was $28,
500. The trial court further found that only three of
Scott's payment receipts, totaling $1, 000 worth of
rental payments, were credible. Subtracting the $1, 000 in
payments made by Scott, the trial court concluded that Scott
owed $27, 500 in back rent.
the improvements to the property, the trial court found that
Scott had "presented no credible evidence that he
brought the Property up to code." Scott, according to
the trial court, failed to produce any documents evidencing
money spent on the property. The trial court dismissed
Scott's evidence supporting his improvements to the
property as "inconsistent, unsupported, and/or
contradicted by his own 'receipts' and not
credible." This appeal follows.
raises five points on appeal. First, Scott argues that the
trial court erred in awarding nine years of unpaid rent to
King on her counterclaim for unjust enrichment. Scott posits
that this award exceeds the five-year statute of limitations.
Second, Scott asserts trial-court error in awarding King
prejudgment interest because her counterclaim for unjust
enrichment was not liquidated. Scott also alleges trial-court
error in Points Three, Four, and Five. However, we dismiss
those points for the reasons stated below.
Compliance with Rule 84.04
we address the merits of Scott's claims, King argues that
each of Scott's five points on appeal fails to comply
with Rule 84.04. Rule 84.04(d)(1) requires each point relied
on to: "(A) Identify the trial court ruling or action
that the appellant challenges; (B) State concisely the legal
reasons for the appellant's claim of reversible error;
and (C) Explain in summary fashion why, in the context of the
case, those legal ...