Douglass v. Safire

Decision Date17 June 1986
Docket NumberNo. 67778,67778
Citation712 S.W.2d 373
PartiesGlenda Mae DOUGLASS (now Richey), Plaintiff-Respondent, v. George SAFIRE, Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Michael RICHEY, Third Party Defendant-Respondent.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

James C. Johns, William J. Cason, Michael X. Edgett, Fred R. Bunch, Clinton, for defendant/third party plaintiff-appellant.

Stanley Brian Cox, Sedalia, for plaintiff-respondent.

BLACKMAR, Judge.

Glenda Mae Douglass (now Richey) sued George Safire on account of injuries she sustained in a collision between his automobile and the motorcycle on which she was riding. Safire brought a third-party action against Michael Richey, the operator of the motorcycle, and now Glenda's husband. She then amended her complaint to seek a judgment against Michael.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of Glenda and against Safire and Michael, signed by nine jurors and reading as follows:

VERDICT A

Note: Complete this form by writing in the name required by your verdict.

On the claim of plaintiff Glenda Mae Douglas Richey against defendant George Safire we, the undersigned jurors, find in favor of:

/s/ Glenda Mae Douglas Richey

---------------------------------------------------

(Plaintiff Glenda Mae or (Defendant George Safire)

Douglas Richey) Note: Complete the following paragraph only if the above finding is in favor of plaintiff Glenda Mae Douglass Richey.

We, the undersigned jurors, find the damages of plaintiff Glenda Mae Douglas Richey to be as follows:

For personal injuries $60,000.00 (stating the amount or, if none, write the word, 'none').

Note: Complete by writing in the percentage of fault you assess to each of those named below. If you believe any of those named below is not at fault, write in 'zero' for that percentage. The total of the percentages you assess must be 100%.

We, the undersigned jurors, assess the percentages of fault as follows:

                Glenda Mae Douglas Richey    0%
                                           ----
                George Safire               85%
                                           ----
                Michael Richey              15%
                                           ----
                Total                      100%
                                           ----
                

On Safire's third party claim, a verdict signed by all 12 jurors was returned, in the following terms:

VERDICT B

Note: Complete this form by writing in the name required by your verdict.

On the claim of Third Party Plaintiff George Safire for property damage against Third Party Defendant Michael Richey, we, the undersigned jurors, find in favor of:

Michael Richey

Third Party Plaintiff Third Party Defendant

George Safire Michael Richey

Note: Complete the following paragraphs only if the above finding is in favor of Third Party Plaintiff George Safire.

We, the undersigned jurors, find the total property damages of Third Party Plaintiff George Safire to be $__________ (stating the amount).

Note: Complete by writing in the percentage of fault you assess to each of those named below. If you believe any of those named below is not at fault, write in 'zero' for that percentage. The total of the percentages you assess must be 100%.

                Third Party Plaintiff George Safire    ___%
                Third Party Defendant Michael
                  Richey                               ___%
                                                TOTAL  100%
                

There was no request that the jury be returned for further consideration. The verdicts were duly recorded and the court entered judgments on them. Defendant Safire appealed, raising a total of nine points. The Court of Appeals, Western District, reversed and remanded for new trial by a divided vote, considering only the point that the verdicts were inconsistent. We granted transfer and now retransfer the case under guidance of this opinion.

We now hold that a claim that a verdict is inconsistent to the point of being self-destructive must be presented to the trial court before the jury is discharged. Otherwise the claim of inconsistency will be held to have been waived. The reason is that, if the point is raised as soon as the verdict is returned, any error is capable of correction by ordering the jury to return for further deliberation. Our holding is in accord with the usual rule that the trial court must be given the opportunity to correct error while correction is still possible.

Safire cites cases in which it is apparently held that error may be predicated on an inconsistent verdict even though the appealing party made no request that the jury be returned. 1 He would place the entire burden on ...

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49 cases
  • State v. Pierce
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • June 24, 2014
    ...with the usual rule that the trial court must be given the opportunity to correct error while correction is still possible.” Douglass v. Safire, 712 S.W.2d 373, 374 (Mo. banc 1986) (emphasis added). The purpose of the constitutional deadline for timely retrials under article I, section 19, ......
  • Combs v. Hahn
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • June 11, 1999
    ...20 Cal.3d 512, 522, 143 Cal.Rptr. 247, 253, 573 P.2d 465, 471 (1978); Hamilton v. Wrang, 221 A.2d 605, 606 (Del.1966); Douglass v. Safire, 712 S.W.2d 373, 374 (Mo.1986); Eberhard Mfg. Co. v. Baldwin, 97 Nev. 271, 273, 628 P.2d 681, 682 (1981); Dunn v. Moss, 193 A.D.2d 983, 985-86, 598 N.Y.S......
  • Pollard v. Whitener, WD
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • February 10, 1998
    ...stands for "the usual rule that the trial court must be given the opportunity to correct error while correction is still possible." 712 S.W.2d 373, 374 (Mo. banc 1986). Appellant in that case did not object until after the jury was discharged. The Supreme Court held that appellant's claim o......
  • Ross v. Ford Motor Credit Co.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • October 12, 1993
    ...submission. It made no claim for inconsistency after the verdicts were returned and before the jury was discharged. See Douglass v. Safire, 712 S.W.2d 373, 374 (Mo. banc 1986); Edna Enters., Inc. v. Spirco Envtl., Inc., 853 S.W.2d 388, 391 As to the conversion count, the judgment is affirme......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Section 19 Unliquidated Claims
    • United States
    • The Missouri Bar Damages Deskbook Chapter 24 Special Problems
    • Invalid date
    ...must be brought to the trial court’s attention before the jury is discharged or the claim of inconsistency is waived. Douglass v. Safire, 712 S.W.2d 373, 374–75 (Mo. banc 1986). Once waiver occurs, it is not error for the trial court to treat the jury’s verdict awarding zero damages as a ve......

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