FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF GREENE COUNTY The Honorable Jason
R. Brown, Judge
W. DRAPER III, CHIEF JUSTICE.
Grove Farms, LLC, Leon Rinehart, Ted Dahlstrom, Carol
Dahlstrom, Curtis Hall, Lisa Hall, and Kyle Bounous
(hereinafter, and collectively, "Maple Grove")
sought to appeal the circuit court's order overruling
their "Motion for Order Revoking, or in the Alternative,
Modifying and Changing Interlocutory Order Appointing
Receiver." The Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern
District, dismissed Maple Grove's appeal because the
order was not denominated a judgment pursuant to Rule
74.01(a). This Court holds the circuit court's order was
appealable pursuant to sections 515.665 and 512.020(2), RSMo
2016. This Court further holds the circuit
court's order did not have to be denominated a judgment
pursuant to Rule 74.01(a) for an appeal to be taken because
it was an interlocutory order that did not fully resolve at
least one claim and did not establish all of the rights and
liabilities of the parties with respect to that claim. The
case is retransferred to the Southern District for it to
review the underlying merits of the circuit court's order
as asserted in Maple Grove's remaining points on appeal.
and Procedural History
October 2011, Maple Grove was formed for the purpose of
owning and operating a dairy farm in Barry County, Missouri.
Meadowfresh Solutions USA, LLC (hereinafter,
"Meadowfresh") was formed simultaneously to own a
majority membership in Maple Grove. Meadowfresh subsequently
sued Maple Grove and sought the appointment of a receiver for
Maple Grove. The circuit court sustained Meadowfresh's
motion. Maple Grove filed a "Motion for Order Revoking,
or in the Alternative, Modifying and Changing Interlocutory
Order Appointing Receiver." The circuit court issued an
order overruling Maple Grove's motion. This order was not
denominated a judgment.
Grove filed a timely notice of appeal, relying on section
515.665, which provides, "Orders of the court pursuant
to sections 515.500 to 515.665 are appealable to the extent
allowed under existing law, including subdivision (2) of
section 512.020." Section 512.020(2) explicitly permits
an aggrieved party to appeal any "[o]rder refusing to
revoke, modify, or change an interlocutory order appointing a
receiver …." The Southern District dismissed
Maple Grove's appeal, finding the circuit court's
order overruling Maple Grove's motion to revoke the
receivership appointment was not denominated a judgment
pursuant to Rule 74.01(a). The Honorable Nancy Steffen
Rahmeyer dissented and certified this case for transfer to
this Court pursuant to Rule 83.03.
Court has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over certain
cases. See Mo. Const. art. V, sec. 3. This Court
also has authority to "finally determine all causes
coming to it from the court of appeals, whether by
certification, transfer or certiorari, the same as on
original appeal." Mo. Const. art. V, sec. 10. Hence,
this Court must determine whether the circuit court's
order overruling a motion to revoke a receivership
appointment is an appealable order to invoke appellate
all appeals, this Court is required to examine its
jurisdiction sua sponte." In re Marriage of
Werths, 33 S.W.3d 541, 542 (Mo. banc 2000). "In
Missouri, the right to appeal is purely statutory, and
'where a statute does not give a right to appeal, no
right exists.'" Fannie Mae v. Truong, 361
S.W.3d 400, 403 (Mo. banc 2012) (quoting Farinella v.
Croft, 922 S.W.2d 755, 756 (Mo. banc 1996)). This Court
has long held "[a]ppeals are favored in the law and
statutes granting appeals are liberally construed."
O'Malley v. Cont'l Life Ins. Co., 75 S.W.2d
837, 839 (Mo. banc 1934); Ins. Co. of State of Pa. v.
Dir. of Revenue, 269 S.W.3d 32, 37 (Mo. banc 2008).
Grove argues the circuit court's order overruling its
motion to revoke the receivership appointment was an
appealable, interlocutory order that did not have to be
denominated a judgment before it could be appealed. Maple
Grove urges this Court to adopt a "substance over
form" analysis that would require an examination of the
content, substance, and effect of the circuit court's
order to determine whether it constitutes a judgment before
requiring it to be denominated as such for purpose of appeal.
Maple Grove maintains such an examination reveals the circuit
court's order was interlocutory and, therefore, did not
need to be denominated a judgment before an appeal could be
taken pursuant to sections 515.665 and 512.020(2).
Court recently clarified the "persistent confusion
surrounding the issues of what a judgment is, what form it
takes, and when it is entered." State ex rel.
Henderson v. Asel, 566 S.W.3d 596, 598 (Mo. banc 2019).
In Henderson, the relator sought to compel a circuit
court to denominate its dismissal order as a judgment so the
relator could appeal. Id. at 598. This Court found
"[a] judgment is a legally enforceable judicial order
that fully resolves at least one claim in a lawsuit and
establishes all the rights and liabilities of the parties
with respect to that claim." Id.
"Judgments are a subset of orders generally."
Id. at 599. "[B]ecause the foregoing definition
of judgment depends upon the court's purpose and intent,
a judgment must be denominated 'judgment' and signed
by the judge to avoid any confusion about whether the court
intended to enter a judgment." Id. This Court
found, because the circuit court's dismissal order
intended to resolve all of the relator's claims against
all of the defendants, it was a judgment and must be
denominated as such. Id.
Court applied these same concepts in cases prior to
Henderson. In Sanford v. CenturyTel of Missouri,
LLC, 490 S.W.3d 717, 722 (Mo. banc 2016), this Court
held an order denying arbitration did not constitute a final
judgment because the order did not present a final
determination of the rights of the parties or dispose of all
of the issues. Similarly, in Ndegwa v. KSSO, LLC,
371 S.W.3d 798, 801 (Mo. banc 2012), this Court stated a
circuit court's determination that an order constituted a
judgment for purpose of appeal was "not dispositive;
instead it is the content, substance, and effect of the order
that determines finality and appealabilty." (quoting
Gibson v. Brewer, 952 S.W.2d 239, 244 (Mo. banc
1997)) (internal quotation and alterations omitted)). In
Lake v. McCollum, 257 S.W.3d 614, 616 n.5 (Mo. banc
2008), this Court admonished, "In order to avoid
confusion, circuit courts should reserve the terms
'judgment' and 'decree' for those rulings or
orders intended to be final appealable
judgments" in which they no longer wish to retain
jurisdiction over the issue or claim. (Emphasis added).
contrast, an interlocutory order "is an order that is
not final and decides some point or matter between the
commencement and the end of a suit but does not resolve the
entire controversy." Buemi v. Kerckhoff, 359
S.W.3d 16, 20 (Mo. banc 2011). "[A]n interlocutory order
is, by definition, not 'final' because Rule 74.01(b)
provides that it remains modifiable and, therefore, '[a]t
any time before final judgment a court may open,
amend, reverse, or vacate an interlocutory order."
Sanford, 490 S.W.3d at 719-20 (quoting Nichols ...