Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
MARY J. MOORE, Appellant,
BI-STATE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY D/B/A METRO, Respondent.
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable
Christopher E. McGraugh.
S. Odenwald, Judge.
Moore ("Moore") appeals the trial court's
amended judgment reducing her personal injury award against
Bi-State Development Agency d/b/a Metro
("Bi-State") from $1, 878 million to $420, 606.00
pursuant to the statutory cap set forth for sovereignly
immune public entities in Section 537.610. Moore argues the
trial court misapplied the law when granting the remittitur
because Section 70.429 mandates that Bi-State comply with all
federal safety rules and regulations, including 49 C.F.R.
Part 387,  which requires Bi-State to satisfy
judgments up to five million dollars for personal injuries
caused by the negligent operation of its buses carrying
sixteen or more passengers. Because Section 70.429 supersedes
the statutory cap on damages imposed by Section 537.610, we
reverse the judgment of the trial court granting
Bi-State's motion for remittitur and remand for the trial
court to enter judgment consistent with this opinion.
and Procedural History
personal injury suit arose following a motor vehicle accident
involving a Bi-State Call-A-Ride bus and a school bus.
Bi-State's Call-A-Ride bus seats sixteen to eighteen
passengers. At the time of the accident, Moore was driving
the school bus. The Bi-State Call-A-Ride bus collided with
the side of the school bus. The collision seriously injured
Moore, who brought a personal injury suit against Bi-State.
case proceeded to trial on May 7, 2018. The jury returned a
verdict in favor of Moore and awarded her $1.878 million in
damages. Bi-State moved for remittitur of the damages award,
arguing both that the award was excessive and that the award
should be reduced pursuant to the liability limitations for
public entities set forth in Section 537.610. The trial court
granted Bi-State's motion for remittitur in part, ruling
that the liability limitations set forth in Section 537.610
controlled. The trial court entered an amended final judgment
in accord with the 2018 statutory cap of Section 537.610 and
reduced the jury's award to $420, 606.00 plus interest at
the rate of 6.25 percent per annum and taxable costs. Moore
sole point on appeal, Moore argues the trial court erred in
granting Bi-State's motion for remittitur and reducing
her personal injury award pursuant to Section 537.610 because
Section 70.429, incorporating 49 C.F.R. Part 387, requires
Bi-State to satisfy in full the judgment award to her for
personal injuries caused by Bi-State's negligent
operation of its Call-A-Ride bus.
review a question of statutory interpretation de novo.
Newsome v. Kansas City, Mo. Sch. Dist, 520 S.W.3d
769, 780 (Mo. banc 2017) (internal citation omitted);
Brancati v. Bi-State Dev. Agency, 571 S.W.3d 625,
636 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) (internal citation omitted).
"The primary rule of statutory interpretation is to
ascertain the intent of the legislature from the language
used, to give effect to that intent if possible, and to
consider the words in their plain and ordinary meaning."
S. Metro. Fire Prot. Dist. v. City of Lee's
Summit, 278 S.W.3d 659, 666 (Mo. banc 2009) (internal
quotation omitted); see Newsome, 520 S.W.3d at 780
(internal citation omitted).
review of Moore's appeal requires that we interpret and
apply two distinct statutes enacted by the Missouri
Legislature. We consider legislation specifically drafted to
address the Legislature's concerns regarding the safety
of public transit systems in light of the Legislature's
concurrent desire to limit the scope of financial
responsibility by public entities in civil litigation.
and Illinois jointly created Bi-State in 1949 through an
interstate compact. See Section 70.370, RSMo 1949;
45 Ill.Comp.Stat. 100/1 (1949); Jordan v. Bi-State Dev.
Agency, 561 S.W.3d 57, 59-60 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018). The
purpose of creating Bi-State was to "provide a unified
mass transportation system" benefitting both Missouri
and Illinois. Id. (internal citation omitted).
Bi-State is a public entity for purposes of sovereign
immunity from tort liability. See Section 537.600.3 (defining
"public entity" to include "any multistate
compact agency created by a compact formed between this state
and any other state which has been approved by the Congress
of the United States"). While the current Section
537.600.3 unambiguously defines "public entity" to
include interstate compact agencies like Bi-State, prior
versions of the statute did not. However, in 1988, the
Supreme Court of Missouri held Bi-State was a public entity
falling under the liability protections of Section 537.600,
RSMo 1986. State ex rel. Trimble v.Ryan,
745 S.W.2d 672, 674 (Mo. banc 1988) (citing Section ...