Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
CITY OF JOPLIN, MISSOURI, and JOPLIN REDEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, INC., Plaintiffs-Respondents,
WALLACE BAJJALI DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS, L.P., and DAVID G. WALLACE, and COSTA BAJJALI, Defendants-Appellants.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF JASPER COUNTY Honorable David C.
W. SHEFFIELD, C.J.
Bajjali Development Partners, L.P. ("Wallace
Bajjali") appeals from the trial court's denial of
its Rule 74.05(d) motion to set aside a default
judgment. Wallace Bajjali argues the trial court
erred in denying its motion to set aside the default
judgment. Although framed as one point, Wallace Bajjali's
argument has two prongs. First, Wallace Bajjali claims the
trial court did not apply the correct legal standard because
it did not mention Rule 74.05(d) in its judgment. Second,
Wallace Bajjali argues the trial court did not apply the
correct legal standard because "the evidence submitted
to the trial court established good cause and a meritorious
defense[.]" We disagree and affirm the trial court's
2015, the City of Joplin and the Joplin Redevelopment Corp.,
Inc. (collectively, "Joplin") filed a lawsuit
against Wallace Bajjali, seeking relief under various legal
theories based on allegations that Wallace Bajjali had
stopped performance under two related contracts after
receiving $1, 475, 000 from Joplin. A return of service was
filed indicating that a copy of the summons and petition was
delivered to Wallace Bajjali's registered agent, CT
Corporation ("CT"). Because Wallace Bajjali had
changed its address without informing CT, CT never forwarded
the summons and petition to Wallace Bajjali. Nevertheless,
the trial court thereafter entered a default judgment against
Wallace Bajjali in the amount of $1, 475, 000.
12, 2015, Wallace Bajjali filed a motion for new
trial. Among other things, Wallace Bajjali
claimed in the motion for new trial that service was improper
because Wallace Bajjali had never actually received the
summons and petition from CT. On August 28, 2015, the trial
court entered a judgment denying Wallace Bajjali's motion
for new trial ("the 2015 judgment"). The trial
court found service was proper because it was made on Wallace
Bajjali's registered agent.
November 1, 2015, Wallace Bajjali filed a motion to set aside
the default judgment under Rule 74.05(d). In the motion to
set aside the default judgment, Wallace Bajjali pleaded it
had good cause for failing to respond to Joplin's lawsuit
because Wallace Bajjali never actually received the summons
and petition from CT. On August 18, 2016, the trial court
entered a judgment ("the 2016 judgment") denying
the motion to set aside the default judgment. The 2016
judgment incorporated the 2015 judgment but made no further
findings of fact or conclusions of law. Wallace Bajjali
sole point relied on, Wallace Bajjali claims the trial court
"failed to apply the correct legal standard and never
determined the issues of good cause and a meritorious defense
under Rule 74.05(d)" because (1) the trial court did not
mention Rule 74.05(d) in its judgment and (2) "the
evidence submitted to the trial court established good cause
and a meritorious defense to the action[.]" These
arguments fail because they ignore the application of Rule
73.01 and our standard of review.
first address Wallace Bajjali's assertion that the trial
court failed to apply the correct legal standard because the
trial court did not mention Rule 74.05(d) in its judgment.
Rule 74.05(d) permits a trial court to set aside a default
judgment "[u]pon motion stating facts constituting a
meritorious defense and for good cause shown[.]"
Brungard v. Risky's Inc., 240 S.W.3d 685, 686
(Mo. banc 2007) (quoting Rule 74.05(d)). Additionally,
"Rule 74.05 does not require the trial court to state a
reason for denying a motion to set aside a default
judgment." Court of 5 Gardens Condo. Ass'n v.
10330 Old Drive, LLC, 326 S.W.3d 834, 837 n.3 (Mo. App.
E.D. 2010). Under such circumstances, parties who want to
know how the trial court resolved various issues "have
the ability to request written findings of fact."
Herron v. Barnard, 390 S.W.3d 901, 910 (Mo. App.
W.D. 2013) (quoting Pearson v. Koster, 367 S.W.3d
36, 45 n.3 (Mo. banc 2012)). However, "[w]here neither
party in a court-tried case requests findings of fact and
conclusions of law under Rule 73.01(c), the trial court's
stated findings and conclusions for its judgment are
gratuitous only." Keefhaver v. Kimbrell, 58
S.W.3d 54, 58 (Mo. App. W.D. 2001). Moreover, "[a]ll
fact issues upon which no specific findings are made shall be
considered as having been found in accordance with the result
reached." Rule 73.01(c). "And as for the
application of the law, '[t]he trial court is presumed to
know the law.'" Herron, 390 S.W.3d at 910
(quoting In re Adoption of C.M.B.R., 332 S.W.3d 793,
822 (Mo. banc 2011)).
in the record are we able to find a request for findings
pursuant to Rule 73.01. Thus, we rely on the presumption
created by Rule 73.01(c) and the applicable case law to
determine how the trial court resolved issues which it did
not mention in its judgment. The trial court denied the
motion to set aside the default judgment, so, in accordance
with that result, the law presumes the trial court found
Wallace Bajjali failed to meet its burden.
address Wallace Bajjali's argument that the trial court
failed to apply the correct legal standard because the
evidence showed good cause and a meritorious defense. This
first reason the argument fails is that it is not preserved
for appellate review. A challenge that the judgment was not
supported by substantial evidence is distinct from a
challenge alleging that the trial court failed to apply the
correct legal principles. Interest of E.B.R. v.
E.R., 503 S.W.3d 277, 281 n.4 (Mo. App. W.D. 2016).
However, "[a] point relied on should contain only one
issue, and parties should not group multiple contentions
about different issues together into one point relied
on." Id. (quoting Miller v.
O'Brien, 168 S.W.3d 450, 453 (Mo. App. S.D. 2008)).
Points that include more than one issue are multifarious and
preserve nothing for appellate review. Doe v.
Ratigan, 481 S.W.3d 36, 43 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015). Here,
Wallace Bajjali, by including in its point relied on the
language about what the evidence showed, attempts to package
a not-supported-by-the-evidence challenge within the distinct
challenge that the trial court failed to apply the correct
legal standard. That approach renders the point multifarious.
however, in our discretion, review multifarious points ex
gratia. E.B.R., 503 S.W.3d at 281 n.4. In doing
so here, we conclude Wallace Bajjali's argument that its
evidence established good cause and a meritorious defense is
without merit because it is based on a false premise that ...