Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Amalaco, LLC v. Butero

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

November 12, 2019

AMALACO, LLC, D/B/A MJM RENOVATION, Appellant,
v.
CHRISTY BUTERO and BRIAN HOUSELY, Respondents.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County 17SL-CC04137 Honorable Stanley J. Wallach.

          OPINION

          James M. Dowd, Judge.

         This landlord-tenant dispute between Appellant Amalaco, LLC (Landlord) and Respondents Christy Butero and Brian Housely (Tenants) arose when Tenants, in violation of their leases and of a local ordinance, sublet the two rental properties at issue through the online short-term rental service Airbnb.[1] After Tenants' subletting activity triggered a municipal citation for the ordinance violation, Landlord terminated the leases, Tenants vacated both premises, and Landlord filed the present suit sounding in breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and civil conspiracy in which Landlord sought as damages the money Tenants received through the illegal subletting as well as nominal damages.

         In granting Tenants' joint motion to dismiss, the trial court held that since the money had been acquired through illegal conduct, Landlord could not recover those funds under Missouri law and therefore failed to state any claim for relief. While we affirm the dismissals of the breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and civil conspiracy claims, we do so for reasons different from the trial court. But we reverse and remand with respect to Landlord's claim for nominal damages.

         Background

         In April 2014, Tenants entered into separate leases with Landlord for two apartments in a building located in University City, Missouri. Butero leased a first-floor apartment and Housely a second-floor apartment. Both leases specified that Tenants "[s]hall not assign this lease or sublease or rent any portion of the property to anyone else[.]" The leases also stated that "Tenant[s] shall comply with all applicable laws regulating the use of the property" and that "Landlord may terminate [these leases] if Tenant[s]. . .engage in any illegal activity on or in the properties]."

         Finally, the leases provided:

In the event of default by Tenant[s] of any rent payment or in the performance of or compliance with any agreements contained herein, Landlord shall, without demand, be entitled to possession of the property. The remedies provided for in this paragraph shall be in addition to the other remedies provided for herein or as provided by law.

         Sometime after they entered into the leases and without Landlord's knowledge, Tenants subleased the apartments for short-term occupancies through Airbnb in violation of the above-quoted terms of the lease. Landlord discovered this activity when University City cited Landlord because Tenants' Airbnb activity violated a municipal ordinance. Upon receipt of this citation, Landlord terminated both leases without incident and Tenants vacated the apartments.

         Landlord then brought this action seeking the money Tenants generated through their Airbnb activity as well as nominal damages. After the trial court granted Tenants' motion to dismiss all claims, this appeal follows.

         Standard of Review

         This Court reviews the grant of a motion to dismiss de novo. Mosley v. English, 501 S.W.3d 497, 503 (Mo.App.E.D. 2016). Appellate review of the trial court's dismissal for failing to state a cause of action is solely a test of the adequacy of plaintiff s petition. State ex rel. Henley v. Bickel, 285 S.W.3d 327, 329 (Mo.banc 2009) (quoting Bosch v. St. Louis Healthcare Network, 41 S.W.3d 462, 464 (Mo.banc 2001)). It assumes all of plaintiff's averments are true, and liberally grants to plaintiff all reasonable inferences therefrom. Id. The petition is reviewed in an almost academic manner, to determine if the facts alleged meet the elements of a recognized cause of action, or of a cause that might be adopted in that case. Id.

         Discussion

         I. Tenants 'failure to plead contractual illegality as required by Rule 55.08 is inappositebecause the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.