Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fifth Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Charles County Cause No.
1911-AC04226 Honorable Matthew E. P. Thornhill
COLLEEN DOLAN, CHIEF JUDGE.
Robben and David Kullberg (collectively,
"Appellants") appeal the judgment entered by the
associate civil division of the Circuit Court of St. Charles
County on Keith Reynolds's ("Respondent")
landlord-tenant action against Appellants. However, we find
that we must dismiss the appeal because we lack jurisdiction
to consider it, pursuant to § 512.180. There have been
three different versions of § 512.180.1 effective since
2014; the resulting confusion as to what procedural remedies
are available to aggrieved parties under the current version
of § 512.180 has been so significant that clarification
regarding those procedural remedies is necessary.
Factual and Procedural Background
20, 2019, Respondent filed his landlord-tenant action against
Appellants before an associate circuit judge of the Circuit
Court of St. Charles County. Respondent asserted that
Appellants had failed to pay rent, utilities, and expenses
for the property that Appellants leased from Respondent, and
that Respondent was entitled to possession of the property.
The record before us does not reflect that the associate
circuit judge who heard the case was sitting in the probate
division or had been assigned to hear the case on the record
under procedures applicable before circuit judges. On July
29, 2019, the associate circuit judge held a hearing on the
case where evidence was presented. That same day, the
associate circuit judge entered judgment in favor of
Respondent, awarding Respondent possession of the property at
issue and damages for unpaid rent and utilities, plus costs.
Appellants thereafter filed their notice of appeal. This
Court issued an order directing Appellants to show cause why
the appeal should not be dismissed for lack of authority.
Appellants subsequently filed their answer.
obligated to examine, sua sponte, whether we have
jurisdiction to consider an appeal. Walker v.
Brownel, 375 S.W.3d 259, 260-61 (Mo. App. E.D. 2012);
Mo. Bond Co. LLC v. Devore, 580 S.W.3d 653, 656 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2019). If we lack jurisdiction to entertain an
appeal, we must dismiss it. Walker, 375 S.W.3d at
261; Edwards v. Zweifel, 498 S.W.3d 860, 861 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2016).
Remedies for Chapter 535 Landlord-Tenant Actions under §
case, Respondent filed his "Notice to Quit,"
seeking possession of the premises and unpaid rent from
Appellants. Chapter 535 of the Missouri Revised Statutes
(entitled "Landlord-Tenant Actions") prescribes the
procedures for such a rent-and-possession action. Section
535.110 states that "[a]pplications for trials de novo
and appeals shall be allowed and conducted in the manner
provided in chapter 512…." Section 512.180
(entitled "Appeals from cases tried before associate
circuit judge") establishes the procedural remedies for
aggrieved parties in actions tried before an associate
circuit judge. The original language of § 512.180.1
(effective until August 27, 2014) stated:
Any person aggrieved by a judgment in a civil case tried
without a jury before an associate circuit judge, other than
an associate circuit judge sitting in the probate division or
who has been assigned to hear the case on the record under
procedures applicable before circuit judges, shall have the
right of a trial de novo in all cases tried before municipal
court or under the provisions of chapters 482, 534, and
under the original version of the section, the procedural
remedy for aggrieved parties in actions tried without a jury
before an associate circuit judge that were tried before
municipal court or under Chapters 482 (entitled "Small
Claims Courts"), 534 (entitled "Forceful Entry and
Unlawful Detainer"), or 535 was trial de novo.
See Fannie Mae v. Truong, 361 S.W.3d 400, 405 (Mo.
banc 2012) (applying the then-applicable version of §
512.180.1 and dismissing the appeal of a Chapter 534 unlawful
detainer action that was tried without a jury before an
associate circuit judge, reasoning that § 512.180.1
required the appellant to instead apply for trial de
novo). Section 512.180.2, which has not been amended
since the section's enactment, instructs that:
In all other contested civil cases tried with or without a
jury before an associate circuit judge or on assignment under
such procedures applicable before circuit judges or in any
misdemeanor case or county ordinance violation case a record
shall be kept, and any person aggrieved by a judgment
rendered in any such case may have an appeal upon that record
to the appropriate appellate court…. Therefore, under
all versions of § 512.180, the procedural remedy for all
other contested civil cases tried before an associate circuit
judge not expressly included in § 512.180.1 was and is
direct appeal to the appropriate appellate court, pursuant to
512.180.1 was amended (with the changes in effect from August
28, 2014 to August 27, 2018) by the Missouri legislature so
as to omit express reference to Chapters 534 and
The result of this amendment was that the procedural remedy
for actions under Chapters 534 and 535 tried before an
associate circuit judge was changed to direct appeal to the
appropriate appellate court, as cases under those chapters
fell within § 512.180.2 during that applicable time
Missouri legislature amended § 512.180.1 yet again