Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Cause No.
1522-CC09759 Honorable Steven Russell Ohmer
M. GAERTNER, JR., PRESIDING JUDGE.
Lee Harrison and Jerry Lee Harrison (collectively,
Appellants) appeal the trial court's judgments denying
their respective motions to vacate and retax court costs in
their underlying suit against Volkswagen Group of America,
Inc. (Volkswagen), in which Volkswagen was the prevailing
party. Appellants argue the trial court did not have
authority to tax costs in the first instance, and that the
circuit clerk's ultimate order taxing costs is invalid
due to procedural violations. Because we find any procedural
violations leading to the circuit clerk's order did not
prejudice Appellants here, we affirm.
initiated the underlying suit against Volkswagen, and after
trial, a jury found in favor of Volkswagen on all of
Appellants' claims. The trial court entered judgment upon
the jury's verdict on October 5, 2016, ordering costs to
be taxed against Appellants.
November 4, 2016, Volkswagen filed a proposed bill of costs
and supporting exhibits, seeking costs in the amount of $77,
613.14. The trial court heard argument regarding the
requested costs and entered judgment on February 9, 2017. The
trial court found that some of Volkswagen's requested
costs were not taxable and ordered the remaining costs taxed
against Appellants, in the amount of $60, 383.14.
filed a motion to vacate this order, which the trial court
denied on April 11, 2017. Appellants filed a notice of appeal
on April 20, 2017. Appellants' stated ground for appeal
was that "the trial court's cost order contravene[d
Section] 514.260, which provides that only the circuit clerk
can tax costs."
on April 13, 2017, the Circuit Clerk for the 22nd
Judicial Circuit issued a bill of costs taxing costs against
Appellants in the amount of $60, 383.14. Appellants then
moved the trial court to retax costs, and the trial court
denied this motion on June 26, 2017. Appellants then appealed
the trial court's denial of the motion to retax costs.
This Court consolidated the appeal with Appellants' first
appeal, and we consider them together.
raise three points on appeal. First, Appellants argue that
the trial court lacked authority to enter its February 9,
2017 judgment ordering specific costs to be taxed to
Appellants because Section 514.260 provides that only the
circuit clerk may tax costs. In Point II, Appellants argue
that the trial court erred in denying Appellants' motion
to retax costs because Volkswagen waived its right to costs
by failing to make a proper timely request for costs to the
circuit clerk. In their third point, Appellants argue that
the trial court erred in denying their motion to retax costs
because the bill of costs issued by the circuit clerk failed
to itemize the costs pursuant to Section 514.310.
argue that the trial court had no authority to enter its
February 9, 2017 judgment ordering costs to be taxed to
Appellants in the amount of $60, 383.14 because Section
514.260 provides that only the circuit clerk may tax costs.
Because the circuit clerk ultimately did tax costs in this
case, we deny this point as moot.
a trial court makes a general award of costs in its final
judgment, and then specific costs are taxed thereafter by the
circuit clerk.See Riggs v. State Dept. of Soc.
Servs., 473 S.W.3d 177, 182-84 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015)
(explaining difference between trial court's function to
make general award of costs to parties and circuit
clerk's ministerial duty of calculation or taxation of
specific costs); see also Collector of Revenue v.
Wiley,529 S.W.3d 42, 46 n.5 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017).
Section 514.260 states, "The clerk shall tax and
subscribe all bills of costs arising in any cause . . .
agreeably to fees which shall, for the time being, be allowed
by law . . . ." Appellants argue this section places
authority to tax costs exclusively with the circuit clerk,