Bartley v. Special School Dist. of St. Louis County, No. 63901

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtGUNN; WASSERSTROM; RENDLEN, C.J., and SEILER, Senior Judge, dissent and concur in separate dissenting opinion of WASSERSTROM; BILLINGS; BLACKMAR; WASSERSTROM
Citation649 S.W.2d 864
Parties11 Ed. Law Rep. 336 Arlene Renee BARTLEY, b/n/f Arlee Bartley, et al., Appellants, v. SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 63901
Decision Date26 April 1983

Page 864

649 S.W.2d 864
11 Ed. Law Rep. 336
Arlene Renee BARTLEY, b/n/f Arlee Bartley, et al., Appellants,
v.
SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Respondent.
No. 63901.
Supreme Court of Missouri,
En Banc.
April 26, 1983.
Rehearing Denied May 31, 1983.

Page 865

James W. Whitney, Jr., Clayton, for appellants.

Gerre S. Langton, Henry D. Menghini, Evans & Dixon, St. Louis, for respondent.

Michael A. Wolff, Stephen H. Ringkamp, Hullverson, Hullverson & Frank, Inc., St. Louis, amicus curiae, for Mo. Assoc. of Trial Attys.

Donald W. Bird, Mark G. Arnold, Husch, Eppenberger, Donohue, Elson & Cornfeld, St. Louis, amicus curiae, for Mo. Hwy. & Transp. Comm.

GUNN, Judge.

This appeal focuses on sovereign immunity as prescribed by § 537.600 and 537.610, RSMo 1978. The issue is whether sovereign immunity is waived by maintaining liability insurance. The trial court sustained defendant-respondent's motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, affirmed the trial court's action. This Court granted transfer, now considering plaintiff's appeal as originally taken here. Mo.Const. art. V, § 10. We affirm.

The facts as taken from the Eastern District's opinion written by Judge Crist are plain enough:

Appellants (plaintiffs) filed suit against respondent (defendant school) for damages allegedly resulting from injuries sustained by school bus riding students, Arlene Renee Bartley and Wendy Owens, as a result of negligence of the school in permitting another student of dangerous propensities to ride the school bus and cause harm to Bartley and Owens. Plaintiffs further alleged defendant school maintained liability insurance against all claims charged in their petition and thereby waived sovereign immunity pursuant to § 537.610, RSMo 1978.

The question posed is: did the defendant school waive its sovereign immunity by reason of maintaining liability insurance on the claims alleged? The trial court thought not; and neither do we.

In Jones v. State Highway Commission, 557 S.W.2d 225 (Mo. banc 1977), this Court abrogated the doctrine of sovereign immunity prospectively as to all claims arising on or after August 15, 1978. The legislature then disenacted the effect of Jones by the passage of §§ 537.600 and 537.610, reestablishing with some modification the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The negligence alleged in this case occurred after August 15, 1978 and after the enactment of §§ 537.600

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and 537.610. Thus, those statutes become the cynosure of this appeal.

Section 537.600 provides:

Such sovereign or governmental tort immunity as existed at common law in this state prior to September 12, 1977, except to the extent waived, abrogated or modified by statutes in effect prior to that date, shall remain in full force and effect; except that, the immunity of the public entity from liability and suit for compensatory damages for negligent acts or omissions is hereby expressly waived in the following instances:

(1) Injuries directly resulting from the negligent acts or omissions by public employees arising out of the operation of motor vehicles within the course of their employment;

(2) Injuries caused by the condition of a public entity's property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury directly resulted from the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm of the kind of injury which was incurred, and that either a negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the course of his employment created the dangerous condition or a public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition in sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.

The pertinent parts of § 537.610 provide:

1. The commissioner of administration, through the purchasing division, and the governing body of each political subdivision of this state, notwithstanding any other provision of law, may purchase liability insurance for tort claims made against the state or the political subdivision, but the maximum amount of such coverage shall not exceed eight hundred thousand dollars for all claims arising out of a single occurrence and shall not exceed one hundred thousand dollars for any one person in a single accident or occurrence, except for those claims governed by the provisions of the Missouri workmen's compensation law, chapter 287, RSMo, and no amount in excess of the above limits shall be awarded or settled upon. Sovereign immunity for the state of Missouri and its political subdivisions is waived only to the maximum amount of and only for the purposes covered by such policy of insurance purchased pursuant to the provisions of this section and in such amount and for such purposes provided in any self-insurance plan duly adopted by the governing body of any political subdivision of the state.

2. The liability of the state and its public entities on claims within the scope of sections 537.600 to 537.650 shall not exceed eight hundred thousand dollars for all claims arising out of a single accident or occurrence and shall not exceed one hundred thousand dollars for any one person in a single accident or occurrence, except for those claims governed by the provisions of the Missouri workmen's compensation law, chapter 287, RSMo.

Under § 537.600, the Missouri legislature provided that sovereign tort immunity as it existed prior to the date of the Jones decision was to remain in effect, except as modified by statute, and except for two specific areas of tort liability: 1) injuries arising out of the negligent operation of a motor vehicle by a public employee within the course of his employment, and 2) injuries caused by the dangerous condition of a public entity's property. 1

The specific extent of the waiver of sovereign immunity by §§ 537.600-.610 has not

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been decided by this Court, although in Winston v. Reorganized School District R-2, 636 S.W.2d 324 (Mo. banc 1982), it was determined that limiting the waiver to the expressly named exceptions of § 537.600 was not unconstitutional. 2

There are three variables appertaining in the statutes under consideration: 1) the two named exceptions to sovereign immunity in § 537.600--vehicle accidents and condition of property; 2) whether the governmental entity was functioning in a governmental or proprietary capacity; 3) whether the governmental entity procured insurance.

Plaintiffs argue that sovereign immunity has been waived, or abrogated, in the two named instances without regard to insurance and in all other torts when the entity has insurance without regard to the governmental/proprietary function distinction. Defendant asserts sovereign immunity is waived only in the two named instances of § 537.600 without regard to the governmental/proprietary functions distinction but only when the entity has acquired insurance.

A threshold issue is the effect of Jones and the subsequent enactment of §§ 537.600-.650, RSMo 1978 upon the construction of statutes pertaining to sovereign immunity. Denouement of the issue presented comes from following the guideposts of statutory construction.

It is, of course, aphoristic that words used in statutes are to be considered in their plain and ordinary meaning in order to ascertain the intent of the lawmakers. Beiser v. Parkway School District, 589 S.W.2d 277, 280 (Mo. banc 1979). And the legislative intent and the meaning of words used in a statute can in many instances be found in the general purposes of a legislative enactment. Bank of Crestwood v. Gravois Bank, 616 S.W.2d 505, 510 (Mo. banc 1981). The provisions of a single legislative act must be construed and considered together and, if possible, all provisions must be harmonized and every clause given some meaning. Harrison v. MFA Mutual Insurance Co., 607 S.W.2d 137, 144 (Mo. banc 1980). Further, it is presumed that the legislature does not enact meaningless provisions. City of Willow Springs v. Missouri State Librarian, 596 S.W.2d 441, 446 (Mo. banc 1980).

If the legislature enacts two laws on the same subject that are irreconcilable, the latter has the effect of repealing the former. Bullington v. State, 459 S.W.2d 334, 339 (Mo.1970). But for repeal of a statute by implication, the statutes must be so inimical to each other that both cannot stand and the legislature, in fact, intended repeal although it did not do so. Kansas City Terminal Railway Co. v. Industrial Commission, 396 S.W.2d 678, 683 (Mo.1965). And where two acts are seemingly incompatible, they must, if feasible, be so construed that the later act will not operate as a repealer by implication, since if they are not irreconcilably inconsistent, both must stand. State v. Kraus, 530 S.W.2d 684, 685 (Mo. banc 1975). Statutes must be read in pari materia, and if possible effect must be given to each clause and provision; where one statute deals with a subject in general terms and another in specific terms, the two should be harmonized when reasonable; but to the extent of any discord between them, the definite statute prevails. State ex rel. Fort Zumwalt School District v. Dickherber, 576 S.W.2d 532, 536-37 (Mo. banc 1979). It is also basic that this Court is not to make new laws, particularly when the legislature has spoken on the subject within constitutional framework. What follows, then, will track the foregoing indited rubrics of statutory construction and accomodate the history of the statutes involved.

An initial question, however, is whether after stillborn abrogation of the doctrine of

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sovereign immunity in Jones and its subsequent statutory revival, sovereign immunity is the rule or the exception, and whether waivers of the doctrine are to be construed liberally or strictly. Those in support of plaintiffs' theory...

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    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • January 14, 1986
    ...attempting to sketch the entire background and scope of that immunity, see generally Bartley v. Special School Dist. of St. Louis City, 649 S.W.2d 864 (Mo.1983) (en banc), I note simply that the City's actions which are at issue here obviously represent an exercise of its generally immunize......
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    • Supreme Court of Utah
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    ...521 S.W.2d 403, 409 (Mo.1975) (en banc), superseded by statute as stated in Bartley v. Special School Dist. of St. Louis County, 649 S.W.2d 864 (1983); Troyer, 722 P.2d at 43 See, e.g., Bell v. Chisom, 421 So.2d 1239, 1242 (Ala.1982); Bonds v. Calif. ex rel. Highway Patrol, 138 Cal.App.3d 3......
  • Ellingson v. Piercy, Case No. 2:14-cv-04316-NKL
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Missouri
    • May 10, 2016
    ...682 (citing Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.600.1). This waiver must be strictly construed. Bartley v. Special School District of St. Louis County, 649 S.W.2d 864, 870 (Mo. banc 1983). Piercy does not dispute that Plaintiffs' negligence claim involves the operation of a motorized vehicle—the patrol bo......
  • Sherrill v. Wilson, No. 64746
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 30, 1983
    ...repeated. See Jones v. State Highway Commission, 557 S.W.2d 225 (Mo. banc 1977); Bartley v. Special School District of St. Louis County, 649 S.W.2d 864 (Mo. banc The partial judgment appealed from is affirmed. RENDLEN, C.J., HIGGINS, GUNN, BILLINGS and DONNELLY, JJ., and PUDLOWSKI, Special ......
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80 cases
  • JBK, Inc. v. City of Kansas City, Mo., No. 83-1326-CV-W-0.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • January 14, 1986
    ...attempting to sketch the entire background and scope of that immunity, see generally Bartley v. Special School Dist. of St. Louis City, 649 S.W.2d 864 (Mo.1983) (en banc), I note simply that the City's actions which are at issue here obviously represent an exercise of its generally immunize......
  • Condemarin v. University Hosp., No. 20602
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • May 1, 1989
    ...521 S.W.2d 403, 409 (Mo.1975) (en banc), superseded by statute as stated in Bartley v. Special School Dist. of St. Louis County, 649 S.W.2d 864 (1983); Troyer, 722 P.2d at 43 See, e.g., Bell v. Chisom, 421 So.2d 1239, 1242 (Ala.1982); Bonds v. Calif. ex rel. Highway Patrol, 138 Cal.App.3d 3......
  • Ellingson v. Piercy, Case No. 2:14-cv-04316-NKL
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Missouri
    • May 10, 2016
    ...682 (citing Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.600.1). This waiver must be strictly construed. Bartley v. Special School District of St. Louis County, 649 S.W.2d 864, 870 (Mo. banc 1983). Piercy does not dispute that Plaintiffs' negligence claim involves the operation of a motorized vehicle—the patrol bo......
  • Sherrill v. Wilson, No. 64746
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 30, 1983
    ...repeated. See Jones v. State Highway Commission, 557 S.W.2d 225 (Mo. banc 1977); Bartley v. Special School District of St. Louis County, 649 S.W.2d 864 (Mo. banc The partial judgment appealed from is affirmed. RENDLEN, C.J., HIGGINS, GUNN, BILLINGS and DONNELLY, JJ., and PUDLOWSKI, Special ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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