United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant Richard King's Motion for
Summary Judgment, Doc. 34. For the following reasons, the
motion is granted.
August 4, 2013, Plaintiff Jennetta Curtis visited the Blue
Note in Columbia, Missouri. While walking down the stairs,
she fell and suffered a broken right ankle and badly sprained
left ankle. Curtis alleges that the Blue Note had poor
lighting, especially on the stairs, and that had there been
“efficient lighting” the injury would not have
occurred. She subsequently filed the present suit, pro se,
against Richard King and Richard King Enterprises, Inc.
Summary Judgment Standards
judgment is appropriate when the evidence, viewed in a light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows no genuine issue
of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Wierman v.
Casey's Gen. Stores, 638 F.3d 984, 999 (8th Cir.
2011). The moving party bears the burden of establishing a
lack of genuine issue of fact. Brunsting v. Lutsen
Mountains Corp., 601 F.3d 813, 820 (8th Cir. 2010). If
the movant satisfies this burden, then the non-moving party
“must set forth specific facts sufficient to raise a
genuine issue for trial and cannot rest on allegations in the
pleadings.” Ryan v. Capital Contractors, Inc.,
679 F.3d 772, 776 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting Nw. Airlines,
Inc. v. Astraea Aviation Servs., Inc., 111 F.3d 1386,
1393 (8th Cir. 1997)). The rule requires summary judgment to
be entered “against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “Summary
judgment is to be granted only where the evidence is such
that no reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party.” Smith v. Basin Park Hotel,
Inc., 350 F.3d 810, 813 (8th Cir. 2003) (citation
claim sounds in premises liability, rather than general
negligence. See Pippin v. Hill-Rom Co., 615 F.3d
886, 890 (8th Cir. 2010). “Premises liability is
triggered when the claimed cause of injury is a dangerous
condition of the property on which the injury occurred . . .
.” Id. (citing Haney v. Fire Ins.
Exch., 277 S.W.3d 789, 791 (Mo.Ct.App. 2009));
see Complaint, Doc. 4, pp. 5, 7 (“Mr.
Richard's establishment had poor lighting . . ., ”
and “had the establishment in question had efficient
lighting . . . the injury would not have happened.”).
Premises liability “generally is limited to those who
own or control the property.” Haney, 277
S.W.3d at 791.
King seeks summary judgment because he did not own the Blue
Note at the time of Curtis's injury, and because Curtis
has made no other allegation as to why he is personally
liable. In support, King submits an affidavit stating that
Richard King Enterprises owned the Blue Note on August 4,
2013, and that he merely served as President of Richard King
argues that Defendant King did own the Blue Note on the night
of her fall, and submits several documents to support her
position. Most of the documents, however, are either
dated 2014 or later, or do not have a date at all. The only
document that is dated before Curtis's fall, which is
also the only document that relates to ownership of the Blue
Note, is a general warranty deed that purports to show that
King transferred the Blue Note property to Richard King
Enterprises, Inc. in 1998. Doc. 41-1, p. 9. Thus, the only
evidence that Curtis possesses related to ownership indicates
that the Blue Note building is owned by Richard King
Enterprises. Therefore, summary judgment on Curtis's
claim against King based on ownership of the Blue Note is
also appears to argue that Defendant King is personally
liable as President of Richard King Enterprises. However, in
Missouri, “merely holding a corporate office will not
subject one to personal liability for the misdeeds of the
corporation.” Zipper v. Health Midwest, 978
S.W.2d 398, 414 (Mo.Ct.App. 1998) (citing Grothe v.
Helterbrand, 946 S.W.2d 301, 304 (Mo. App. 1997).
Rather, to be held individually liable for tortious
misconduct, a corporate officer must have “had actual
or constructive knowledge of, and participated in, an
actionable wrong.” State ex rel. Doe Run Resources
Corp. v. Neill, 128 S.W.3d 502, 505 (Mo. 2004). Curtis
makes no allegation that King had any knowledge of poor
lighting at the Blue Note, or otherwise is personally
responsible. Indeed, when asked at her deposition why she
believes King is responsible for her fall, Curtis only
responded “because he's part owner of the
business.” [Deposition of Jennetta Curtis, p. 41:23-25,
exhibit B]. Therefore, Curtis's argument that King is
personally liable because he was President of Richard King
Enterprises also fails.
fails to rebut Defendant King's contentions, or otherwise
make a showing sufficient to establish that King owned the
Blue Note on the night of her fall. She also presents no
other argument or evidence to impose liability on King
individually. Therefore, the Court grants summary judgment in
favor of Defendant Richard King. See Celotex Corp.,
477 U.S. at 322.