Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable
Joan L. Moriarty
Nelson, Commissioner of the Missouri Office of
Administration, ("Appellant") appeals from the
trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of
Michael Holmes ("Respondent") in Respondent's
action for a declaratory judgment to determine whether the
State of Missouri ("State") or the City of St.
Louis must pay the $2.5 million in damages awarded in his
federal civil suit against two St. Louis police officers,
Shell Sharp ("Sharp") and Bobby Garrett
("Garrett"). We affirm.
case began in December 2003, when Respondent was arrested in
St. Louis by City of St. Louis police officers Sharp and
Garrett. Respondent was then convicted of federal drug crimes
in June 2006, and because he had previously been convicted on
separate drug charges several years earlier, he was sentenced
to twenty years in prison. But that was not the end of the
story. After Respondent's conviction, Sharp and Garrett
were investigated for multiple alleged instances of
misconduct. Eventually Garrett was federally
prosecuted for numerous crimes, convicted, and sentenced to
28 months in prison. Sharp resigned from the St. Louis
Metropolitan Police Department ("SLMPD").
Sharp and Garrett's misconduct was discovered, Respondent
moved to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28
U.S.C § 2255. In 2011, the Federal District court for
the Eastern District of Missouri ("District Court")
granted this motion because Sharp and Garrett, who testified
at Respondent's trial, had been discredited and the
government would have failed to meet its burden of proof with
the remaining evidence. In December 2012, Respondent sought a
certificate of innocence under 28 U.S.C § 2513, which
the District Court denied because of his failure to show
actual innocence. Simultaneously but separately, Respondent
filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against the mayor of St. Louis, the St. Louis Board of Police
Commissioners ("the Board"), and Sharp and Garrett.
The District Court granted summary judgment for all
defendants except Sharp and Garrett, and sent the case to
trial where Sharp and Garrett were represented by the
Missouri Attorney General's Office. On March 4, 2016, the
jury found in favor of Respondent and awarded him $2.5
million ("the Award").
discussing Respondent's declaratory judgment action that
is the subject of this appeal, it is important to note some
of the legislative developments setting the background to
this case. The State Legal Expense Fund ("SLEF")
statute was enacted by the Missouri Legislature
("Legislature") to replace the Tort Defense Fund.
The statute has been amended multiple times since it was
enacted, but the most important amendment for purposes of
this case came in 2005, in response to the Missouri Supreme
Court's decision in Smith v. State, 152 S.W.3d
275, 278-80 (Mo. banc 2005). In Smith, the court
found the Board and its police officers were entitled to
coverage under the SLEF because the Board was an agency of
the state and its officers were officers of the state.
Smith, 152 S.W.3d 275 at 280 Under the amended
version from 2005, the SLEF was only liable to reimburse the
Board for claims, and only up to $1 million. Section
105.726.3. On November 6, 2012, Missouri voters passed
Initiative Proposition A ("Proposition A") which
led to the enactment of Section 84.344 allowing the City of
St. Louis ("the City") the right to establish its
own police force free from state control. State ex rel.
Hawley v. City of St. Louis, 531 S.W.3d 602, 604 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2017). Before Proposition A was passed, the SLMPD
was under state control. Id. Section 84.344 also
directed the state-controlled Board to transfer title and
ownership of all its indebtedness and assets to the City.
Id. Proposition A also resulted in the amendment of
Section 105.726, stating that only the Board's
successor-in-interest, the City, was entitled to
reimbursement through the SLEF. Id. All of these
developments occurred after Respondent's arrest in 2003.
March 10, 2016, Respondent requested payment of the Award
from the State through the SLEF, which the State denied,
leading to his filing the declaratory judgment at issue in
this appeal. After limited discovery in the declaratory
action, both parties filed motions for summary judgment. The
trial court found the issue to be determined was whether
"the [SLEF] covers [the Award] that was entered in 2016,
after the SLMPD was no longer under state control, but arose
from police officer conduct that occurred in 2003 while the
SLMPD was under state control." On May 3, 2018, the
trial court granted Respondent's motion for summary
judgment, finding the State is required to indemnify Sharp
and Garrett through the SLEF. This appeal follows.
raises two points on appeal. First Appellant argues the trial
court erred when it found that the 2005 amendment to the SLEF
statute (1) did not exclude officers and (2) did not apply to
exclude payment of the Award against Sharp and Garrett
because the claims against them did not accrue until 2011,
well after the SLEF statute was amended.
second point argues the trial court erred in finding that the
State was required to provide reimbursement in the amount of
$2.5 million dollars through the SLEF for Respondent's
claims because (1) reimbursement is not applicable to this
situation, and (2) reimbursement is contrary to the clear and
unambiguous terms of the statute, in that there is no
evidence that the Board made a payment to Respondent in
satisfaction of his claims or that the SLEF is required to
reimburse the Board that amount.
Standard of Review
review the grant of summary judgment de novo.
Crawford v. Distrib. Operations, Inc., 561 S.W.3d
463, 466 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) (citing ITT Commercial Fin.
Corp. v. Mid-Am. Supply Corp., 854 S.W.2d 371, 376 (Mo.
banc 1993). The record is viewed "in the light most
favorable to the party against whom judgment was
entered," and we "accord [that party] all
reasonable inferences from the record." Stoesz v.
Wright, 541 S.W.3d 718, 722 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018). A
party is entitled to summary judgment where there is "no
genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. . . ."
Rule 74.04(c); ITT Commercial Fin. Corp., 854 S.W.2d