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State ex rel. AJKJ, Inc. v. Hellmann

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

June 4, 2019

STATE ex rel. AJKJ, INC., Relator,
v.
THE HONORABLE CRAIG E. HELLMANN, Respondent.

         ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN PROHIBITION

          W. BRENT POWELL, JUDGE

         AJKJ, Inc., seeks a permanent writ of prohibition preventing the circuit court from continuing to exercise jurisdiction in the underlying case. The circuit court entered judgment in the matter but then vacated its judgment after sustaining a motion to intervene and motion to set aside filed by non-parties to the underlying action. Because the circuit court lost jurisdiction in the underlying action 30 days after entering final judgment, the court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the motions. The preliminary writ is made permanent.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         AJKJ, Inc., and New Sites, LLC, co-developed the Birch Creek subdivision in Franklin County. Sometime after the project began, AJKJ transferred its interest in Birch Creek to New Sites. New Sites subsequently transferred its interest to Legends Bank, which then conveyed its interest to Bequette Construction, Inc. The deed AJKJ conveyed to New Sites failed to specify the transfer included developer rights.[1]

         On June 1, 2018, AJKJ filed a single-count petition against New Sites, Legends Bank, and Bequette Construction seeking to reform the deed conveyed to New Sites. AJKJ sought to reform the deed to specify it did, in fact, transfer developer rights to New Sites.

         All defendants filed timely answers, and none filed any counterclaims or crossclaims. On July 13, 2018, the circuit court held a bench trial at which the court heard evidence and took the case under advisement. The circuit court entered judgment on July 19, 2018, finding AJKJ and New Sites omitted the phrase "including developer rights" from the deed by mutual mistake and reforming the deed to specify it transferred developer rights.

         On August 14, 2018, Ronald D. Ruff, along with numerous other residents of the Birch Creek subdivision ("Residents"), filed a motion to intervene and a motion to set aside the reformation judgment. The circuit court sustained the motion to intervene and the motion to set aside on September 13, 2018, vacating the reformation judgment.

         AJKJ filed a petition for writ of prohibition in the court of appeals, which denied the writ petition. AJKJ then petitioned this Court for a writ of prohibition. This Court issued a preliminary writ and, after briefing and oral argument, makes the writ permanent.

         Jurisdiction and Standard of Review

         This Court has jurisdiction to issue original remedial writs. Mo. Const. art. V, § 4. "Prohibition is an original proceeding brought to confine a lower court to the proper exercise of its jurisdiction." State ex rel. Bayer Corp. v. Moriarty, 536 S.W.3d 227, 230 (Mo. banc 2017). Prohibition is proper to prevent a circuit court from exceeding its jurisdiction. Id.

         Analysis

         The sole question in this matter is whether the circuit court possessed jurisdiction to sustain the motion to intervene and motion to set aside judgment on September 13, 2018. Pursuant to Rule 75.01, [2] AJKJ argues the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to consider these motions after August 18, 2018 - 30 days following entry of judgment reforming the deed.

         The circuit court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the ...


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