Howard Cnty. Ambulance Dist. v. City of Fayette, WD 80699

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtVICTOR C. HOWARD, JUDGE
Citation549 S.W.3d 1
Parties HOWARD COUNTY AMBULANCE DISTRICT, Appellant, v. CITY OF FAYETTE, Missouri, Respondent.
Decision Date20 February 2018
Docket NumberWD 80699

549 S.W.3d 1

HOWARD COUNTY AMBULANCE DISTRICT, Appellant,
v.
CITY OF FAYETTE, Missouri, Respondent.

WD 80699

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.

Opinion filed: February 20, 2018
Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied March 22, 2018
Application for Transfer Denied July 3, 2018


Frank R. Flaspohler, for Appellant.

Peter F. Rottgers, for Respondent.

Before Division One: Thomas H. Newton, Presiding Judge, Victor C. Howard, Judge and Karen King Mitchell, Judge

VICTOR C. HOWARD, JUDGE

549 S.W.3d 3

Howard County Ambulance District appeals the judgment of the trial court, following a bench trial, in favor of the City of Fayette on the Ambulance District's claim against the City for payment of a medical bill for services provided to Lance Brown while Brown was detained by a City law enforcement officer. The trial court determined that there was no written agreement between the Ambulance District and the City regarding ambulance services, as required by section 432.070.1 In its two points on appeal, the Ambulance District argues that trial court erred in making such determination because (1) section 190.060 and Howard County Ambulance District Ordinance No. 2 provides it the power to fix, charge, and collect reasonable fees and nothing in state law limits such power and (2) an exceptional circumstance exists to relieve the contractual requirement of section 432.070. The judgment is affirmed.

Background2

Howard County Ambulance District is a political subdivision organized under the Chapter 190, RSMo, to provide ambulance services within Howard County. The City of Fayette is a class four municipality organized under Chapter 79, RSMo, and located in Howard County.

On October 15, 2011, Officer Matt Jones, a reserve police officer for the City of Fayette, was dispatched on a report of a prowler and came into contact Lance Brown. After a short foot pursuit, Officer Jones took Brown into custody and placed him in handcuffs. The officer discovered that Brown was seventeen years old and very intoxicated. Concerned for his health and well-being, the officer summoned the EMS.

The Ambulance District dispatched personnel to the scene including Paramedic Frank Flaspohler. Paramedic Flaspohler initially assessed Brown, who was sitting in the police car handcuffed, with an altered level of consciousness, nauseated, and vomiting. He suspected alcohol intoxication but also knew a number of other things could cause his condition. The paramedic determined that Brown required medical attention and recommended that he be transported to the hospital.

At some point, Officer Jones called Brown's mother, Janice Brown, and told her the situation. He explained that Brown needed to be transported to the hospital and asked if she consented and to which hospital she wanted him taken. Brown's mother consented and told the officer to have him taken to Boonville. She never arrived at the scene and never offered to take her son to the hospital. Officer Jones released Brown out of custody and the handcuffs, and Brown was taken in the ambulance to the hospital.

Officer Jones did not sign anything with the Ambulance District at the scene. The

549 S.W.3d 4

City has agreements with various municipal type entities including a fire district, a rural water district, and a rural electric district. These agreements are in writing and approved by the Board of Alderman. The City does not have a written agreement with the Ambulance District. City police officers do not have authority to bind the City for medical care or ambulance transport.

In November 2011, the Ambulance District billed Janice Brown $1,266.01 for the cost of the transport of her son to the hospital. In April 2016, it filed a petition against her seeking payment of the bill. In September 2016, it amended its petition to assert a claim against the City for payment of the ambulance bill. Until the lawsuit, the Ambulance District had not made a demand to the City for the cost of the ambulance service for Brown.

Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of the City finding that there was no written agreement between the Ambulance and the City for the ambulance service as required by section 432.070. The trial court entered judgment against Janice Brown in the amount of $1,266.01. This appeal by the Ambulance District followed.

Analysis

In its two points on appeal, the Ambulance District argues that trial court erred in entering judgment in favor of the City based on the lack of a written agreement between the Ambulance District and the City regarding ambulance services, as required by section 432.070. Review of a court-tried case is governed by Murphy v. Carron , 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976). The trial court's judgment is affirmed unless it is unsupported by substantial evidence, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law. Id. ; Curry Inv. Co. , 494 S.W.3d at 24. The reviewing court views all of the evidence and the reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the judgment and disregards all contrary evidence and inferences. Curry Inv. Co. , 494 S.W.3d at 24. Questions of law are reviewed de novo . Pearson v. Koster , 367 S.W.3d 36, 43 (Mo. banc 2012).

The Ambulance District first argues that section 190.060 and Howard County Ambulance District Ordinance No. 2 provides it the power to charge and collect its reasonable fee from the City and that nothing in state law limits such power. "A municipality derives its governmental powers from the state and exercises generally only such governmental functions as are expressly or impliedly granted it by the state." City of Dellwood v. Twyford , 912 S.W.2d 58, 59 (Mo. banc 1995) (internal quotes and citation omitted). See also Abbott Ambulance v. St. Charles Co. Ambulance Dist. , 193 S.W.3d 354, 358 (Mo. App. E.D. 2006). "A...

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3 practice notes
  • Dumler v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC, WD 81446
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • July 2, 2019
    ...a court-tried case, the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the judgment." Howard Cty. Ambulance Dist. v. City of Fayette , 549 S.W.3d 1, 3 n.2 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018).3 "Whether a statute of limitations applies to a given cause of action is [ ] reviewed de novo." Davison v. Dairy ......
  • Spiegel v. Ferguson-Florissant Sch. Dist., ED 109274
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 25, 2021
    ...contracts." The Lamar Co., LLC, 512 S.W.3d at 792 (internal quotation omitted); see also Howard Cnty. Ambulance Dist. v. City of Fayette, 549 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018) (internal citations omitted). More simply stated, while the equitable remedy of promissory estoppel is a tool courts......
  • Lambley v. Diehl, WD 82645
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 9, 2020
    ...is intended.2 We state the evidence in the light most favorable to the judgment. See Howard Cnty. Ambulance Dist. v. City of Fayette , 549 S.W.3d 1, 4 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018).3 At the time of Phyllis's death, the only real property held by the Phyllis Trust was Wilson Place and a one-half undi......
3 cases
  • Dumler v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC, WD 81446
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • July 2, 2019
    ...a court-tried case, the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the judgment." Howard Cty. Ambulance Dist. v. City of Fayette , 549 S.W.3d 1, 3 n.2 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018).3 "Whether a statute of limitations applies to a given cause of action is [ ] reviewed de novo." Davison v. Dairy ......
  • Spiegel v. Ferguson-Florissant Sch. Dist., ED 109274
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 25, 2021
    ...contracts." The Lamar Co., LLC, 512 S.W.3d at 792 (internal quotation omitted); see also Howard Cnty. Ambulance Dist. v. City of Fayette, 549 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018) (internal citations omitted). More simply stated, while the equitable remedy of promissory estoppel is a tool courts......
  • Lambley v. Diehl, WD 82645
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 9, 2020
    ...is intended.2 We state the evidence in the light most favorable to the judgment. See Howard Cnty. Ambulance Dist. v. City of Fayette , 549 S.W.3d 1, 4 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018).3 At the time of Phyllis's death, the only real property held by the Phyllis Trust was Wilson Place and a one-half undi......

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