Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County Honorable Travis
M. HESS, JUDGE
Lewis ("Appellant") appeals from the judgment of
the circuit court of Jefferson County, following a bench
trial, in favor of American Senior Benefits, LLC
("Respondent"). Appellant asserts six points of
error on appeal. However, Appellant's brief violates Rule
84.04 so substantially that we are unable to review any of
his points. Appeal dismissed.
is a retired insurance salesman residing in Bountiful, Utah.
Respondent is an Ohio Limited Liability Corporation
authorized to do business in the State of Missouri, and its
business primarily consists of insurance marketing. Prior to
his retirement, Appellant entered into an agency agreement
contract (the "Agreement") with Respondent in
February 2012. Section 7 of the Agreement stated that
Appellant would be paid commissions by Respondent on premiums
collected from insurance policies he sold. If the Agreement
was terminated within twenty-four months, Appellant would not
be "vested, " which meant that he would not be
entitled to further commissions. The Agreement also provided
that Appellant would have to reimburse Respondent for
commissions it paid Appellant if a policy sold by Appellant
was cancelled. Section 6 of the Agreement provided that
either party could terminate the contract "for any or no
reason at any time by either party upon written notice to the
other." Section 6 also provided that Respondent could
terminate the Agreement "for cause" immediately
upon mailing written notice to Appellant's last known
October 2012, Respondent's Chief Operating Officer
("COO") received a form requesting that
Appellant's contractor status be terminated. The COO
mailed notice to Appellant terminating the Agreement and
demanding Appellant reimburse Respondent for commissions it
had paid Appellant on a policy he sold that was cancelled
did not reimburse Respondent, and Respondent filed a petition
demanding $6, 788.40 in damages for Appellant's breach of
the Agreement, as well as attorney's fees. Following a
bench trial, the trial court ordered Appellant to pay
Respondent $6, 788.40, but declined Respondent's request
for attorney's fees. This appeal follows.
affirm the judgment in a court-tried case unless there is no
substantial evidence to support it; it is against the weight
of the evidence; it erroneously declares the law; or it
erroneously applies the law. Murphy v. Carron, 536
S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. Banc 1976). "Substantial evidence
means competent evidence from which the trial court could
reasonably decide the case." T.S.I. v. A.L.
(C.)B., 521 S.W.3d 317, 320 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017).
84.04 sets forth mandatory requirements for
appellate briefs. The requirements must be complied with
"in order to ensure that appellate courts do not become
advocates by speculating on facts and on arguments that have
not been made." Duncan v. Duncan, 320 S.W.3d
725, 726 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010) (quotations omitted). We hold
pro se appellants to the same standards as attorneys
regarding Rule 84.04's mandatory briefing rules.
Id. We acknowledge the problems faced by pro se
litigants, but we cannot give preferential treatment to
non-lawyers. Id. Appellant's brief fails to
comply with multiple Rule 84.04 requirements such that his
appeal is unreviewable.
Appellant's brief violates Rule 84.04(c) because his
statement of facts does not contain a "fair and concise
statement of the facts relevant to the questions presented
for determination without argument." Rule 84.04(c).
Appellant's statement of the facts is plainly
argumentative and repeatedly ignores unfavorable testimony.
For example, Appellant argues in his statement of facts that
"neither party ever gave or received a 'written
notice' for contract termination, " even though
Respondent's witness testified she sent a termination
letter to Appellant using first-class mail.
misconstrues the record multiple times in his statements of
facts. For example, he asserts that "[t]he court agreed
with [Appellant] that [Respondent] had defaulted on their own
contract yet still made a final judgment in favor of
[Respondent]." Appellant cites to ...