Barber v. M. F. A. Milling Co.

Decision Date15 April 1976
Docket NumberNo. 9622,9622
Citation536 S.W.2d 208
PartiesBenny BARBER and Dixie Barber, Plaintiffs-Respondents. v. M. F. A. MILLING COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Donald E. Bonacker, Springfield, for plaintiffs-respondents.

O. J. Taylor, Ronald Baird, Taylor, Stafford & Gannaway, Springfield, for defendant-appellant.

Before BILLINGS, C.J., and TITUS and FLANIGAN, JJ.

TITUS, Judge.

Defendant compounded cattle feed which plaintiffs bought and fed to their bovines. Thereafter plaintiffs claimed that the feed contained an excessive amount of lead which caused death and sickness to their animals. A jury resolved the issues by awarding plaintiffs damages in the sum of $15,000.

The first point relied on by defendant is: 'The trial court erred in permitting the plaintiffs to read certain portions of the deposition of witness Edward E. Pickett into evidence over defendant's objections, in that the admission of such evidence had no probative force and was erroneously prejudicial to defendant.' This point preserves nothing for appellate review because it wholly ignores the directions of Rule $84.04(d), V.A.M.R., which are mandatory. M & A Electric Power Co-operative v. Nesselrodt, 509 S.W.2d 468, 470(1) (Mo.App.1974). It is impossible to ascertain from reading the point what parts of the deposition defendant is claiming were inadmissible (Nibler v. Coltrane, 275 S.W.2d 270, 274(5) (Mo.1955); Lawson v. Cooper, 475 S.W.2d 442, 447(7) (Mo.App.1972); City of St. Louis v. Cook, 405 S.W.2d 545, 549(1) (Mo.App.1966); Beasley v. Hull, 400 S.W.2d 423, 425(1) (Mo.App.1966)), and while the point asserts that admission of the unspecified deposition testimony was error, the reasons given therefor are unadulterated abstractions which do not explain 'why' such evidence allegedly had no probative force and was erroneously prejudicial. Abstract statements purporting to be reasons for averred trial court error do violence to the rule which requires a point to be specific. Adams v. White, 488 S.W.2d 289, 294(13) (Mo.App.1972); Boyd v. Boyd, 459 S.W.2d 8, 12(10) (Mo.App.1970). The court of appeals is not obliged to search either the transcript on appeal or the argument portion of an appellant's brief to come by the meaning of a point on appeal. Butterbaugh v. Public Water Supply Dist. No. 12, 512 S.W.2d 445, 447(3) (Mo.App.1974); In re Estate of Barks, 488 S.W.2d 928, 930(5) (Mo.App.1972). The only manner in which we could ascertain what parts of the deposition are intended to be included in the point or 'why' it is contended their admission into evidence lacked probative force and was erroneously prejudicial, would be to resort to the transcript and to the argument section of the brief. Therefore, the deficiency of the point becomes self-evidence and the merit of its substance, if any, will be passed to another day when the point may be presented in acceptable form.

Plaintiffs' damage instruction charged the jury to measure plaintiffs' damages, if awarded, by 'the difference between the fair market value of the cattle before they were damaged and their fair market value after they were damaged.' Defendant, while conceding the instruction was in the language of MAI 4.02 except for changes necessary to adapt it to this particular case, nevertheless claims under Point II of its brief that the charge was erroneous because it 'did not require the jury to determine the difference between the fair market value of the property immediately before and immediately after the alleged damage.' As defendant's citations attest, the general rule is that evidence measuring damages for injury to personalty should relate to the difference between the reasonable or fair market value of the personalty immediately before the injury and immediately thereafter. Hood v. M. F. A. Mutual Insurance Company, 379 S.W.2d 806, 812(9) (Mo.App.1964). However, it does not follow that every evidentiary element necessary to be proved to authorize the submission of a particular instruction must be repeated in the charge to make it proper. Brittain v. Clark, 462 S.W.2d 153, 158--159 (Mo.App.1970), and cases there cited.

Rule 70.01(b), V.A.M.R., requires that an applicable MAI 'shall be given to the exclusion of any other on the same subject' (DeArmon v. City of St. Louis, 525 S.W.2d 795, 800 (Mo.App.1975); Goodwin v. S. J. Groves & Sons Company, 525 S.W.2d 577, 851 (Mo.App.1975)), and Rule 70.01(c) states 'The giving of an instruction in violation of the provisions of this rule shall constitute error . . ..' These rules were strictly applied in State ex rel. State Highway Commission v. Beaty, 505 S.W.2d 147, 153--154(5--7) (Mo.App.1974) where the court erred in giving MAI 4.01 instead of MAI 4.02. There is no doubt that since plaintiffs sought only property damages, MAI 4.02 was the proper measure of damage instruction to be given. Holt v. Myers,494 S.W.2d 430, 443 (Mo.App.1973). See also Rotert v. Peabody Coal Company, 513 S.W.2d 667, 676--677(5) (Mo.App.1974), where the court of appeals directed that upon retrial plaintiffs' damage instruction should follow MAI 4.02 rather than MAI 9.02 which employs the 'immediately before' and 'immediately after' wording. We find no error in giving the instruction, and moreover observe that if defendant feared the measure of damage instruction was susceptible to misunderstanding because of its general scope, it was incumbent upon defendant to submit an explanatory or modifying instruction before it can be heard to complain. Defendant offered no such instruction. Bunge Corp. v. Valley Line Supply & Equipment Co., 480 S.W.2d 859, 864 (Mo.1972); Miller v. Ranson and Company, 407 S.W.2d 48, 54--55(11) (Mo.App.1966); Hough v. Jay-Dee Realty and Investment, Inc., 401 S.W.2d 545, 551(14) (Mo.App.1966); Samuels v. Illinois Fire Ins. Co., 354 S.W.2d 352, 362(20) (Mo.App.1961).

Point III in defendant's brief asseverates the 'trial court erred in overruling defendant's motion for directed verdict in that plaintiffs' evidence as to damages did not establish the fair market value of the plaintiffs' cattle immediately before and immediately after the alleged injury.' Ignoring the obvious...

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