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Presson v. Presson

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

April 10, 2018

DENNIS L. PRESSON AND THERESA MELTON, Appellants,
v.
BRIDGET A. PRESSON, Respondent.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Francois County Honorable Shawn R. McCarver

          Philip M. Hess, Judge

         Introduction

         Dennis L. Presson and Theresa Melton (collectively "Appellants"), appeal the judgment of the Circuit Court of St. Francois County granting Bridget A. Presson's ("Respondent") motion to dismiss their petition. Appellants are the children of Warner Lee Presson ("Decedent"), and Respondent was Decedent's wife at the time of his death. Appellants argue two points on appeal: 1) the trial court erred in finding that Appellants' claims were compulsory counterclaims that should have been raised in prior litigation; and 2) the trial court erred in finding Appellants' claims were barred by § 473.360.[1] Finding no error, we affirm.

         Factual Background

         In September 2007, Decedent married Respondent. At the time of the marriage, Decedent was the owner of multiple real estate properties (the "Property"). In December 2007, Decedent conveyed the Property to himself and Respondent as tenants by the entirety via a general warranty deed ("Deed I").[2]

         In April 2010, Respondent attempted to convey the Property back to Decedent as the sole legal owner via a general warranty deed ("Deed II") waiving her marital, dower, and homestead rights in the Property.

         In April 2013, Decedent attempted to convey the Property to Appellants as joint tenants via a general warranty deed ("Deed III"). Decedent died a few months later.

         Respondent, individually and as personal representative of Decedent's estate, filed a petition for discovery of assets against Appellants ("Case I"). Respondent then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Deeds II and III were nullities, [3] and therefore she was the sole owner of the Property. Appellants filed no response to Respondent's motion for summary judgment. Instead, Appellants communicated to the probate court that summary judgment should be granted in favor of Respondent.

         On June 24, 2016, the probate court entered its final order and judgment, declaring that Respondent was the sole owner of the Property, and that Deeds II and III were nullities.

         After the judgment became final, Appellants filed a petition ("Case II") claiming that from April 2013 until June 2016, they performed services necessary to maintain the Property, including paying the real estate taxes and utility bills (the "Services"). Appellants asserted that Respondent had been unjustly enriched because she refused to compensate Appellants for their Services.

         Respondent motioned to dismiss Appellants' petition. Following a hearing, the trial court granted Respondent's motion to dismiss, because Appellants' claims in their petition were compulsory counterclaims under Rule 55.32(a)[4] that should have been filed in Case I. This appeal follows.

         Standard of Review

         We review a trial court's order granting a motion to dismiss de novo. Gibbons v. J. Nuckolls, Inc., 216 S.W.3d 667, 669 (Mo. banc 2007). We assume the factual allegations in the petition are true and do not try to weigh their credibility or ...


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