FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS, The
Honorable Jason M. Sengheiser, Judge
was represented by Shaun M. Falvey and Christopher S.
Saracino of Goldblatt & Singer in St. Louis, (314) 231-4100.
was represented by Edward M. Roth, Anthony S. Bruning and
Anthony S. Bruning Jr. of The Bruning Law Firm LLC in St.
Louis, (314) 735-8100.
was represented by David A. Boresi and John L. Mullen of
Franke Schultz & Mullen PC in St. Louis, (314) 455-8300.
Eden appeals the circuit courts distribution of proceeds
from Nicklaus Mackes wrongful death settlement, pursuant to
§ § 537.080, 537.090, and 537.095. The circuit court
apportioned 98 percent of the settlement to Nicklaus father,
Loren Macke, and 2 percent to Eden, Nicklaus mother. Edens
appeal argues the circuit court abused its discretion in
overruling her oral motion for a second continuance and erred
in apportioning only a small percent of the wrongful death
settlement to her. The circuit courts judgment is affirmed.
Factual and Procedural History
Nicklaus Macke (hereinafter, "Nicklaus") was the
son of Pamela Eden and Loren Macke (hereinafter,
"Macke"). Nicklaus suffered fatal injuries in a
motor vehicle collision with defendant Austin Patton in April
2017. At the time of his death, Nicklaus was 25 years old,
unmarried and had no children. Macke negotiated a settlement
with Pattons insurance company, and the insurance company
offered to pay its $500,000 policy limit in satisfaction of
Mackes wrongful death claim against Patton.
accepted the offer and filed for approval and apportionment
of the wrongful death settlement in the circuit court of the
city of St. Louis. The circuit court scheduled a hearing on
the petition for November 21, 2017. Eden, an Alabama
resident, first received notice of the hearing date on
October 26, 2017.
hours before the first scheduled hearing began, Eden
telephoned the circuit court requesting a continuance because
she was not in Missouri and did not have an attorney. The
circuit court granted a one-week continuance and reset the
hearing for November 28, 2017. At the beginning of the
hearing, Edens attorney orally requested a second
continuance, asserting the need for discovery and additional
time to prepare for the hearing. The circuit court overruled
the motion, stating:
[O]ff the record I denied the request for the continuance,
and Im going to stick with that ruling finding that Ms. Eden
had notice and we were kind enough to put it off for a week
last week, and I think eventually we just need to go forward
with this and I think that needs to happen today, partially
due to the issue of the other parties also having to travel
the hearing, the circuit court heard testimony from Macke,
Eden, Mackes sister, Mackes wife and Edens husband. The
evidence supporting the judgment was that Macke and Eden
divorced shortly after Nicklaus birth and Macke was granted
custody with supervised visitations for Eden. Macke and
Nicklaus moved into Mackes mothers house in Marshall,
Illinois, where Nicklaus
was raised primarily by Macke and Mackes mother, whom
Nicklaus called "Mom."
she lived in the area, Eden was absent from Nicklaus
childhood. On occasion, she would show up unannounced to
events in Nicklaus life, including one of his bands
concerts, his prom night, and his high school graduation
party. But she ultimately played little to no role in his
childhood and upbringing.
Nicklaus turned 18, he moved away from home. Macke stayed in
touch with Nicklaus despite the increased distance between
them. Eventually, Macke helped Nicklaus move into a St. Louis
condominium. Even though Macke lived two and a half hours
away from St. Louis, he and Nicklaus remained in touch and
Macke visited him regularly.
the hearing, the circuit court entered an order approving the
$500,000 settlement and taking the issue of apportionment and
distribution of the settlement amount under advisement.
Neither party requested specific findings pursuant to Rule
73.01(c). Several weeks later, the circuit court entered a
judgment apportioning $490,000 of the settlement to Macke and