FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS The Honorable
Jason M. Sengheiser, Judge
Eden appeals the circuit court's distribution of proceeds
from Nicklaus Macke's 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. Eden's 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 court's
judgment is affirmed.
and Procedural History
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 Patton's
insurance company, and the insurance company offered to pay
its $500, 000 policy limit in satisfaction of Macke's
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, Eden's 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 I'm 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 into town.
the hearing, the circuit court heard testimony from Macke,
Eden, Macke's sister, Macke's wife and Eden's
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 Macke's mother's house
in Marshall, Illinois, where Nicklaus was raised primarily by
Macke and Macke's mother, whom Nicklaus called
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 band's
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 $10, 000 to Eden. The circuit court's judgment
included the following language relevant to this Court's
The court has considered the testimony of the witnesses, the
documentary evidence that each submitted to the court, as
well as the oral and written statements of counsel. The
court, observed first-hand and evaluated the credibility of
the witnesses and determined the weight to be accorded to the
testimony and documentary evidence of each. This Court has
apportioned the settlement proceeds as set forth in Exhibit A
hereto, in proportion to the losses suffered by each party,
as determined by the court based on the evidence and in
keeping with the factors set forth in the Missouri Wrongful
Death statute, RSMo. §§ 537.080, 537.090, 537.095.
appealed the judgment, and the court of appeals reversed in
part and remanded in a published opinion. This Court granted
transfer. Mo. Const. art. V, sec. 10.
presented two separate points relied on in this appeal. The
first argues the circuit court erred in overruling her motion
for a second continuance. The second argues the circuit
court's apportionment of only 2 percent of settlement
funds to Eden erroneously applied the law and was against the
weight of the evidence.