Hayes v. Hatfield, WD

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Citation758 S.W.2d 470
Docket NumberNo. WD,WD
PartiesJames R. HAYES, Sr. and Pauline Hayes, Appellants, v. Howard HATFIELD and Shirley S. Hatfield, Respondents. 40523.
Decision Date27 September 1988

Kranitz & Kranitz, P.C., St. Joseph, for appellants.

Thomas R. Bellmann, Jeans & Bellmann, Kansas City, for respondents.

Before COVINGTON, J., Presiding, and NUGENT and GAITAN, JJ.


James R. Hayes, Sr., and Pauline Hayes appeal from the entry of summary judgment against them by the trial court. The judgment is affirmed.

On July 29, 1985, Howard Hatfield filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, individually and as general partner of Corby Grove, Limited, a Missouri limited partnership, alleging that the City of St. Joseph, Missouri, and three of its officials caused compensable injury to Mr. Hatfield by their violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and certain state law torts. His wife, Shirley, was also named as plaintiff. After discovery, the Hatfields were granted leave of court to file a First Amended Complaint, in which they put forth additional theories of recovery and added additional party defendants, including Mr. Hayes. Counsel who had originally answered filed an answer to the first amended complaint on behalf of the additional defendants, including Mr. Hayes. Counsel for the named defendants had been retained by National Union Fire Insurance Company, insurer for the City.

The Hatfields filed a motion for summary judgment on liability only on January 12, 1987. Four days later, all defendants, including Mr. Hayes, through counsel jointly filed a formal Offer of Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 to permit judgment "to be taken and entered against them jointly for the sum of Fifty Thousand One Dollars ($50,001.00)." Plaintiffs timely filed a written acceptance as required by the rule, and, on February 10, 1987, the court executed a federal court judgment entry which stated in part: "Judgment shall be entered in favor of plaintiffs and against defendants, and each of them jointly for all of those claims alleged in the First Amended Complaint. It is therefore ordered: I. That plaintiffs, Howard Hatfield and Shirley Hatfield, have judgment in the sum of $50,001.00, jointly from defendants ... James R. Hayes, ... jointly, for which let execution issue. II. That plaintiffs may submit a Motion for Costs and Fees for consideration by the court within 30 days of the date of this order."

Mr. Hayes maintained that he did not concur in the offer of judgment. Prior to the making of the offer, Mr. Hayes insisted the offer was improper as to his interests. By letter dated February 13, 1987, to counsel retained by the insurer for the City, Mr. Hayes protested the settlement and denied liability.

On February 18, 1987, the Hatfields moved for statutory attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 alleging that they were the prevailing parties. The motion was opposed by counsel of record for the defendants, including Mr. Hayes. The federal court conducted a hearing on the matter in June of 1987. On September 9, 1987, the federal court entered an order which held that there was no dispute that Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield were indeed the prevailing parties since the defendants tendered and the plaintiffs accepted an offer of judgment on all claims alleged in the plaintiffs' first amended complaint.

Counsel of record for all defendants, including Mr. Hayes, filed a notice of appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on September 18, 1987. Thereafter, however, the defendants stipulated to withdrawal of the appeal and paid the previously ordered prevailing parties' attorney's fees into the court treasury for release to Mr. Hatfield.

On February 24, 1987, before the time to appeal the federal judgment had expired and before the Hatfields' motion for attorney's fees was decided, Mr. and Mrs. Hayes filed a malicious prosecution suit against Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield and the National Union Fire Insurance Company in the Circuit Court of Buchanan County. Among other allegations, Mr. and Mrs. Hayes alleged that the federal complaint filed by Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield was terminated in favor of Mr. Hayes on or about February 10, 1987.

National Union and the Hatfields each filed a motion for summary judgment. Each motion was denied. Both National Union and the Hatfields filed motions to reconsider the denial of their requests for summary judgment, both of which were denied. Thereafter, Mr. and Mrs. Hayes settled with National Union, after which the Hayeses filed a second amended petition which dismissed National Union as a co-defendant. Only the claims against the Hatfields remained, with Mr. and Mrs. Hayes continuing to allege that the federal suit had terminated in favor of Mr. Hayes on or about February 10, 1987. With National Union dismissed, the Hatfields again filed for summary judgment with respect to the second amended petition.

On February 3, 1988, nearly one year after the joint judgment against all defendants was entered, the Hayeses moved for relief from the federal judgment in the United States District Court under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). The motion for relief was denied on March 21, 1988. The Hayeses did not appeal the denial of the motion for relief.

On April 8, 1988, the trial court heard oral argument on the Hatfields' motion for summary judgment with respect to the Hayeses' second amended petition and subsequently sustained the Hatfields' motion for summary judgment.


In their first point, Mr. and Mrs. Hayes contend that the trial court erred in entering summary judgment on the ground of an amendment to Rule 74.04. The point is directed toward what appellants regard as the lack of significance of the deletion of (h ) from the Rule, effective January 1, 1988, and its consequent effect on the quantum of proof required to support summary judgment. Mr. and Mrs. Hayes assert that a movant for summary judgment must continue to show by unassailable proof that there is no genuine issue of fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. It is no longer necessary for a movant to show by unassailable proof that he is entitled to a summary judgment. See Laughrey, Judgments--The New Missouri Rule, 44 J.Mo.B. 11, 14 (1988). Moreover, Mr. and Mrs. Hayes do not specify in this point any genuine issue of material fact which they allege to exist in the case and, more significantly, they do not specify how the trial court's alleged misunderstanding of the quantum of proof required under Rule 74.04 affected its ruling. The point is thereby rejected. Rule 84.04(d); Thummel v. King, 570 S.W.2d 679, 686-87 (Mo. banc 1978).


Mr. and Mrs. Hayes next assert trial court error in entering summary judgment because the termination of the federal suit was not on the merits, was tantamount to a consent judgment, and, thus, was not a termination in favor of Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield so as to bar an action by Mr. and Mrs. Hayes for malicious prosecution or so as to support a defense of either res judicata or collateral estoppel. They assert that they did not agree to settle the federal case and that they did not authorize the defendants' attorney to do so in their behalves.

Review of summary judgment is equivalent to review of a court-tried case and, if, as a matter of law the judgment is sustainable on any theory, the judgment of the trial court will be sustained. Review is made of the entire record in a light most favorable to the party against whom summary judgment is entered. The reviewing court first determines whether there is any genuine issue of material fact requiring trial and then determines whether the judgment is correct as a matter of law. The moving party has the burden to show that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 74.04; Roberts Fertilizer, Inc. v. Steinmeier, 748 S.W.2d 883, 886 (Mo.App.1988). "Summary judgment is not precluded if the 'facts' alleged to be in dispute are actually differing opinions of the parties of the legal effect of documents or actions which determine their respective rights." Steinmeier, 748 S.W.2d at 887.

The dispute alleged to exist is the differing opinions of the parties of the legal effect of the federal court judgment. The Hayeses contend that the federal court judgment is tantamount to a state court consent judgment, and, because the judgment was not entered after a trial on the merits, the federal suit terminated in favor of the Hayeses.

If the judgment entered in the federal suit were subject to collateral attack, the Hayeses' assertion that a factual dispute exists would arguably be of merit. The federal court judgment, however, is not subject to collateral attack. The judgment was entered subsequent to the defendants of record having made an offer of judgment pursuant to Federal Rule 68 which provides that at any time more than ten days before a trial begins, a party defending against a claim may serve upon the adverse party an offer to allow a judgment to be taken against the defending party for the money or property or to the effect specified in the offer, with costs then accrued. If timely accepted, either party may then file the offer and notice of acceptance together with proof of service after which the clerk shall enter judgment. The purpose of the rule is to encourage settlement and avoid protracted litigation. 7 J. MOORE, J. LUCAS, & K. SINCLAIR, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE 68.02 (2D ED.1988).

Although Missouri courts have not addressed directly the question of whether a federal judgment entered pursuant to Rule 68 is subject to collateral attack, our courts have addressed analogous issues. In Vorhauer v. Sweeney, 217 S.W.2d 985 (Mo.App.1949), the judgment was entered by consent. An individual against whom judgment was entered filed a motion to quash execution and alleged that she did not sign the stipulation for judgment and did...

To continue reading

Request your trial
30 cases
  • Y.G. v. Jewish Hosp. of St. Louis
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • July 12, 1990
    ...166 (1983).2 Since January 1, 1988 a motion for summary judgment need no longer be supported by "unassailable proof." Hayes v. Hatfield, 758 S.W.2d 470, 472 (Mo.App.1988). Rule 74.04 as now constructed and Federal Rule 56 are nearly identical. When a Missouri rule tracks a federal rule we m......
  • Muza v. Missouri Dept. of Social Services
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 28, 1989
    ...subject matter is open to collateral attack in a subsequent state court proceeding to give effect to that judgment. Hayes v. Hatfield, 758 S.W.2d 470, 472 (Mo.App.1988). More specifically, Muza argues that the voluntary withdrawal of the complaint in the federal court deprived that judge of......
  • Ogg v. Mediacom, L.L.C.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 22, 2004
    ...judgment process. It was Mediacom's burden to demonstrate its undisputed right to judgment as a matter of law. Hayes v. Hatfield, 758 S.W.2d 470, 472 (Mo.App. W.D.1988). In this court, it is the Oggs' burden, as appellants, to show that the circuit court erred when deciding that pure issue ......
  • Hatfield v. Hayes
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • July 13, 1989
    ...state court ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of the Hatfields, and the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed. Hayes v. Hatfield, 758 S.W.2d 470 (Mo.Ct.App.1988). On February 3, 1988, nearly one year after the federal judgment against all defendants had been entered, Hayes filed in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT