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U.S. Bank National Association v. Christensen

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

February 27, 2018

U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, Respondent,
v.
STEPHEN J. CHRISTENSEN, et al., Appellants.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Honorable Richard M. Stewart

          OPINION

          Angela T. Quigless, J.

         Stephen J. Christensen and Caroline L. Christensen ("Appellants") appeal from the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of U.S. Bank National Association ("Respondent") on its claim for unlawful detainer, under Section 543.030.[1] Appellants raise one point on appeal, arguing "[t]he process of requiring a separate action for claims of wrongdoing in a real estate setting is unconstitutional." We dismiss Appellants' appeal for failure to comply with the mandatory briefing requirements of Rule 84.04.[2]

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In 2007, Appellants took out a loan on their home and executed a deed of trust encumbering the property. The deed of trust was subsequently assigned to Respondent. After Appellants defaulted on their home loan, Respondent foreclosed on the property pursuant to the terms of the deed of trust. Respondent appointed a Successor Trustee to handle the foreclosure sale.

         On July 6, 2016, the Successor Trustee sent a letter by certified mail to Appellants notifying them that they were in default on the loan and demanding payment for the outstanding balance of the loan. The letter notified Appellants that Respondent had elected to foreclose on the property and a foreclosure sale would be held on July 28, 2016. Notice of the foreclosure sale was also published in the St. Louis County Legal Ledger daily from July 8, 2016 through July 28, 2016. On July 28, 2016, the foreclosure sale was held and the property was sold to Respondent as the highest bidder. On October 21, 2016, the Successor Trustee sent Appellants a letter notifying Appellants the property was sold at the foreclosure sale and demanding Appellants immediately vacate the property. Appellants refused to deliver possession of the property to Respondent upon demand, and remained in possession of the property from the date of the foreclosure sale until the filing of this case.

         On October 25, 2016, Respondent filed an unlawful detainer claim against Appellants, seeking immediate possession of the property and damages for double the fair market monthly rental value of the property since the date of the foreclosure sale. Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment arguing uncontested evidence supported every element of its claim.

         After hearing oral arguments, the circuit court granted the motion, entered judgment in favor of Respondent, and awarded Respondent immediate possession of the property, and $1, 000 per month in damages for lost rents and profits. Appellants filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied by the trial court. This appeal follows.

         Discussion

         Appellants' sole point on appeal states: "The process of requiring a separate action for claims of wrongdoing in a real estate setting is unconstitutional." The argument section of Appellants' brief appears to argue that the unlawful detainer statute, Section 543.030, is unconstitutional and violates his due process rights because "[t]he inability of a party to properly defend [by challenging the underlying foreclosure] and litigate all actions [against the foreclosing bank] in an unlawful detainer situation creates an untenable and unconstitutional situation."

         I. Failure to Comply with the Briefing Requirements of Rule 84.04

         We must first address the deficiencies contained within Appellants' brief. The facts section, point relied on, and argument section of Appellants' brief all fail to comply with the mandatory briefing requirements of Rule 84.04.

         Appellants' statement of facts is one paragraph long and does not mention a single fact pertaining to the underlying case. The only facts mentioned are the dates for certain procedural actions taken in the circuit court. This fails to comply with Rule 84.04(c)'s requirement that Appellants' brief contain a "fair and concise statement of the facts relevant to the questions presented for determination without arguments." Rule 84.04(c). Appellants do not even mention a single fact relating to the foreclosure sale or Appellants' possession of the property. An appellant's failure to provide a fair and concise statement of facts is a sufficient basis to dismiss an appeal. Brown v. Ameristar Casino Kan. City, Inc., 211 S.W.3d 145, 147 (Mo. App. W.D. 2007).

         Additionally, Appellants' point relied on states, in its entirety: "The process of requiring a separate action for claims of wrongdoing in a real estate setting is unconstitutional." This fails to comply with Rule 84.04(d)(1)'s requirement that each point relied on "(A) identify the trial court ruling or action that 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 reasons support the claim of reversible error." Rule 84.04(d)(1) (emphasis added). "The requirements of Rule 84.04(d) are mandatory and must be strictly applied." Brown, 211 S.W.3d at 147. Appellants' point fails to identify any trial court ruling, fails to mention the law that is purportedly unconstitutional, and fails to explain why that unnamed law is unconstitutional in the ...


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