K.L.M. v. B.A.G., No. ED 104922

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtKURT S. ODENWALD, Judge
Citation532 S.W.3d 706
Parties K.L.M., Respondent, v. B.A.G., Appellant.
Decision Date10 October 2017
Docket NumberNo. ED 104922

532 S.W.3d 706

K.L.M., Respondent,
v.
B.A.G., Appellant.

No. ED 104922

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, DIVISION ONE.

FILED: October 10, 2017


Patricia K. Susi, 130 Bemiston Ave., Ste 200, St. Louis, MO 63105, for appellant.

Melissa Kay Griffeth, 3920 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108, for respondent.

KURT S. ODENWALD, Judge

Introduction

B.A.G. appeals the judgment of the trial court, entering a full order of protection against her under Missouri's Adult Abuse Act, Sections 455.005-455.090.1 B.A.G. argues that the trial court erred in entering a full order of protection because there was insufficient evidence to show K.L.M. was alarmed by B.A.G.'s actions. Because

532 S.W.3d 708

B.A.G.'s actions would not cause a reasonable person to fear physical harm, we hold that there was insufficient evidence to support the order of protection entered against B.A.G. Thus, we reverse the trial court's judgment.

Factual and Procedural History

K.L.M. sought an order of protection against B.A.G. for stalking, pursuant to Missouri's Adult Abuse Act, Sections 455.005-455.090. The trial court held a hearing on August 24, 2016. During the hearing, the following evidence was adduced:

B.A.G. used to date K.L.M.'s boyfriend ("Boyfriend"). B.A.G. and Boyfriend worked at the same police division, where B.A.G. was subordinate to Boyfriend. B.A.G. later attended a federal police academy, and worked for both the Department of Veterans Affairs Police Department and the Navy. B.A.G. filed an employment-related-harassment lawsuit against Boyfriend.

On April 1, 2016, K.L.M. received an anonymous seventeen-page letter in an unmarked envelope. The author of the letter said that he/she was K.L.M.'s friend and watched K.L.M. The letter also talked about Boyfriend, declaring, "[h]e just treats women horribly," and "he was mistreating one of his officers working with him recently.... [S]he had to go to make a complaint when he started treating her wrong after she turned him down when he ... tried getting with her again." Further, the letter mentioned K.L.M.'s father by name, declaring "[d]on't you want someone who will treat you the way he expects you to be treated?" The letter was typed, single spaced, and delivered to K.L.M. as well as to some of her friends and family. K.L.M. received the letter shortly after B.A.G. filed her lawsuit against Boyfriend.

Approximately one week after K.L.M. received the seventeen-page letter, she received by mail a birthday card and a two-page letter, in an envelope marked with B.A.G.'s name. Referencing the seventeen-page letter, and written in the same style, the two-page letter exclaimed, "I have unresolved issues of my own," and "[w]e will walk this journey together. I look forward to many more years of your friendship." The two-page letter attempted to persuade K.L.M. to leave Boyfriend. K.L.M. admitted during cross-examination that B.A.G. did not threaten any physical, bodily harm toward K.L.M. Instead, the two letters made K.L.M. feel "uncomfortable."

During the third week of April, K.L.M received a phone call at her work from someone who identified herself as B.A.G. and asked to speak with K.L.M. K.L.M. put the phone call on hold and then called Boyfriend. No further details to the conversation were presented. K.L.M. later testified that, prior to the hearing, she had not heard B.A.G.'s voice.

K.L.M. testified that her Facebook profile was hacked on May 25, 2016. K.L.M. maintained that someone with B.A.G.'s name used K.L.M.'s Facebook profile picture as a new profile picture associated with B.A.G.'s account. K.L.M. asserted the following: B.A.G. accessed K.L.M.'s Facebook page, "saved" K.L.M.'s profile picture onto B.A.G.'s own Facebook profile page, made K.L.M.'s profile picture B.A.G.'s profile picture, then "shared" the picture. K.L.M. was notified of this incident because the picture was "shared" to Boyfriend, who forwarded the notification to K.L.M. K.L.M. further alleged that B.A.G. sent this picture to people at a police department. K.L.M. did not independently verify the incident as she never looked at B.A.G.'s Facebook page directly.

At the end of the hearing, the trial court entered its judgment of the full order of

532 S.W.3d 709

protection against B.A.G., which expired on February 24, 2017. B.A.G. now appeals.

Point on Appeal

B.A.G.'s sole point on appeal contends that there was insufficient evidence presented to support a finding that B.A.G. purposely and repeatedly engaged in an unwanted course of conduct, which caused K.L.M. to fear physical harm.

Standard of Review

Appeals from a court-tried civil case are governed by Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30 (Mo. banc 1976) ; N.M. v. Martin, 508 S.W.3d 171, 173 (Mo. App. W.D. 2016). We affirm the trial court's judgment "unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, unless it is against the weight of the evidence, unless it erroneously declares the law, or unless it erroneously applies the law." 536 S.W.2d at 32. We view "the evidence and permissible inferences drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the judgment." Bateman v. Platte Cty., 363 S.W.3d 39, 43 (Mo. banc 2012). However, we must keep in mind that "[b]ecause of the potential stigma that may attach to an individual who is labeled a ‘stalker’ under the Missouri Adult Abuse Act, trial courts must exercise great care ... to ensure sufficient evidence exists to support all elements of the statute before entering a full order of protection." M.L.G. v. R.W., 406 S.W.3d 115, 117 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013).

Discussion

I. The Mootness Doctrine

We first note that the trial court's judgment denotes that the full order of protection expired on February 24, 2017. Hence, the full order of protection in question expired during the pendency of B.A.G.'s appeal. During oral argument, B.A.G. requested leave to supplement the record with the order from the trial court renewing the order of protection. We denied the motion to supplement the record because the renewal record is unnecessary for our determination.2

"Whether a case is moot is a legal question that the appellate court raises sua sponte on appeal." C.I.A. v. T.E., 423 S.W.3d 844, 845 (Mo. App. W.D. 2014). "Generally, an appellate court does not decide moot issues." Id."When a full order of protection has expired, any appeal of that order is moot, because there is no practical effect in vacating an order that has expired." Hail v. Hail, 380 S.W.3d 655, 656 (Mo. App. W.D. 2012) (internal quotation omitted).

However, we may consider an expired full order of protection "if it raises a recurring issue of general public interest and importance and would otherwise evade appellate review." Id. (internal quotation omitted); Section 455.007 (Supp. 2014). "Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine shall apply to an appeal of a full order of protection which has expired." Section 455.007 (Supp. 2014).3 The Western District recently

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3 practice notes
  • R.K. v. Kelly, WD 84037
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 31 Agosto 2021
    ...not address Point III—whether there was sufficient evidence to satisfy the objective alarm element of stalking. See K.L.M. v. B.A.G. , 532 S.W.3d 706, 710 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017) (declining to address the subjective component of alarm where there existed insufficient evidence of the objective ......
  • Austin v. Jarred, No. SD 35663
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 20 Giugno 2019
    ...Applying that doctrine, therefore, we proceed to hear and determine the substantive merits of this appeal. K.L.M. v. B.A.G. , 532 S.W.3d 706, 710 (Mo.App. 2017) ; C.D.R. v. Wideman , 520 S.W.3d 839, 842 (Mo.App. W.D. 2017).4 Jarred presented this claim to the trial court during his closing ......
  • E.D.H. v. T.J., No. ED 105883
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 11 Settembre 2018
    ..."cause fear of danger of physical harm." § 455.010(14)(a). Alarm has a subjective and objective component. K.L.M. v. B.A.G. , 532 S.W.3d 706, 708-09 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017). A person must subjectively fear danger of physical harm. Moreover, a reasonable person in the situation would ......
3 cases
  • R.K. v. Kelly, WD 84037
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 31 Agosto 2021
    ...not address Point III—whether there was sufficient evidence to satisfy the objective alarm element of stalking. See K.L.M. v. B.A.G. , 532 S.W.3d 706, 710 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017) (declining to address the subjective component of alarm where there existed insufficient evidence of the objective ......
  • Austin v. Jarred, No. SD 35663
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 20 Giugno 2019
    ...Applying that doctrine, therefore, we proceed to hear and determine the substantive merits of this appeal. K.L.M. v. B.A.G. , 532 S.W.3d 706, 710 (Mo.App. 2017) ; C.D.R. v. Wideman , 520 S.W.3d 839, 842 (Mo.App. W.D. 2017).4 Jarred presented this claim to the trial court during his closing ......
  • E.D.H. v. T.J., No. ED 105883
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 11 Settembre 2018
    ..."cause fear of danger of physical harm." § 455.010(14)(a). Alarm has a subjective and objective component. K.L.M. v. B.A.G. , 532 S.W.3d 706, 708-09 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017). A person must subjectively fear danger of physical harm. Moreover, a reasonable person in the situation would ......

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