Mack Motor Truck Corp. v. Wolfe

Decision Date18 June 1957
Docket NumberNo. 29503,29503
Citation303 S.W.2d 697
PartiesMACK MOTOR TRUCK CORPORATION, Respondent, v. John WOLFE, doing business as Wolfe Implement Company, et al., Appellants.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Harry J. Mitchell, Palmyra, for appellants.

Myrl B. Sterke, Palmyra, for respondent.

SAM C. BLAIR, Special Judge.

Confronting us is a motion to dismiss this appeal on the ground that it fails to comply with Supreme Court Rule No. 1.08(a)(3) and (d), 42 V.A.M.S., requiring the 'points relied on' to show what actions or rulings of the court are sought to be reviewed and requiring those points to state briefly and concisely why the court was wrong. We are cited to White v. Nelson, Mo.App., 283 S.W.2d 926, and Thrasher v. Allen Estate, Mo.App., 291 S.W.2d 630. Due to the extraordinary circumstances of this case, we believe we ought not to apply this rule, whatever may be said against or for appellants' points on this appeal. Any failure of compliance here does not require us, as it would have in the White and Thrasher appeals, and the decisions they cite, to search at large through a lengthy record to determine for ourselves what might be wrong with this judgment. For, unlike the White and Thrasher appeals, the present record consists of a mere twenty one pages and a quick and easy perusal of appellants' points and this record dispels all doubt as to what actions or rulings of the trial court appellants want reviewed and why they think they were wrong. Obviously, then, the peculiar circumstances of this case do not present us with the burden the rule was adopted to believe appellate courts from carrying, and since there is no reason for applying the rule, the motion to dismiss is overruled. This does not mean that the rule will not be enforced in other circumstances requiring its enforcement.

This is an action in replevin by Mack Motor Truck Corporation against John Wolfe, d/b/a Wolfe Implement Company, et al., for possession of a motor truck. The pleadings are not in question. The cause was submitted to the court without a jury on a stipulation of facts supplemented by undisputed evidence.

These facts are of relevance. On January 18, 1954, the Truck Corporation at Tampa, Florida, by conditional sales contract, conveyed to James H. Alvis, a Florida resident, a Mack truck. The contract secured the sum of $4,251.65 to the Truck Corporation. Subsequently, on April 14, a transfer agreement was entered between James H. Alvis, E. Crawford Jones, and the Truck Corporation, whereby Jones, a Florida resident, purchased the truck for $4,410.41 and assumed all covenants of Alvis embraced in the original contract. The original contract and the transfer agreement shortly thereafter were duly recorded in the office of the Motor Vehicle Commission of the State of Florida and the lien created by the contract and the transfer agreement was endorsed on the certificate of title issued to Jones.

Later, on May 26, Jones took the truck to the Wolfe-Moody Implement Company at Palmyra, Missouri, where repairs requiring labor and parts were made at his instance. No claim is made that Jones notified Wolfe-Moody Implement Company of the existence of the contract and transfer agreement and none is made that the latter had any actual notice from any source. Nor is there any claim that these instruments had been recorded in Missouri as provided by Missouri law relating to conditional sales contracts. Section 428.100, V.A.M.S.

Shortly after delivery of the truck for repairs, Wolfe-Moody Implement Company assigned all of its property to John Wolfe, d/b/a Wolfe Implement Company, et al., the present appellants. Subsequently, on July 14, Jones defaulted on the payments due under the contract and transfer agreement and reconveyed the truck to the Truck Corporation at its request.

On July 28, the Truck Corporation notified Wolfe Implement Company that it held a conditional sales contract and transfer agreement against the truck and demanded immediate possession of it. The Implement Company asserted a right to retain possession of the truck under a common-law artisan's lien for repairs and storage and refused to relinquish possession unless Jones or the Truck Corporation made full payment of its charges. The Truck Corporation filed a replevin suit, made bond, and took possession of the truck.

On these facts, the trial court ruled that the Truck Corporation's contract and transfer agreement, recorded in Florida prior to the repairs, but not in Missouri, gave rise to a lien which took precedence over the artisan's lien the Implement Company asserted against the truck. Judgment was rendered for the plaintiff, Truck Corporation, on its petition to replevy the truck and against the Implement Company on its counterclaim for judgment for the amount of repairs and storage and for the return of the truck to be held by it until full payment was made. With all of the facts conceded, the ruling of the trial court presents for our decision only the legal question of priority.

In 1890 Judge Ellison, writing for the Kansas City Court of Appeals, in Kirtley v. Morris, 43 Mo.App. 144, ruled that a Missouri artisan's common-law lien for repairs made on a chattel took precedence over a prior recorded Missouri chattel mortgage. In 1894, in Stone v. Kelley, 59 Mo.App. 214, the Kansas City Court of Appeals reaffirmed this ruling. In 1895, in Lazarus v. Moran, 64 Mo.App. 239, this court recognized the priority of a Missouri artisan's lien over a prior recorded chattel mortgage. Thereafter, the Kansas City Court of Appeals, in Birmingham v. Carr, 196 Mo.App. 411, 414, 197 S.W. 711, 712[1-3], line 5, did the same.

'The artisan's lien is supported on the theory that the value of the property has been enhanced by the labor and skill of the workman which has been put upon it, at least at the implied request of the owner. If an article of property left with the mortgagor becomes out of repair or unfit for the uses and purposes for which the mortgagor retains it, it may well be supposed to be within the contemplation of the parties that it will be repaired. And it has always been, and is now, well understood that people take such articles of property for repair to those who are engaged in such business, and who, from education and experience, are skilled in the business, and it is, therefore, quite a reasonable and natural implication that the mortgage should contemplate this when he accepts his security, and that he should be held by the transaction itself to consent thereto. It is thus that the artisan rests secure in the certainty and validity of his lien.' Stone v. Kelley, supra, 59 Mo.App. 219.

Our research does not disclose any criticism of the Kirtley case, or other cases cited, by any of our appellate courts. While outstate authorities are conflicting, an examination of them reveals that the Kirtley case and its prototypes are by no means unique. Blashfield, Cyclopedia of Automobile Law and Practice, Vol. 7A, Secs. 5162-5163; 61 C.J.S. Motor Vehicles Sec. 746 b, p. 891; Idem., Sec. 754 b, pp. 901-904; 14 C.J.S. Chattel Mortgages Sec. 300, p. 939; 10 Am.Jur., Chattel Mortgages, Sec. 215, p. 857; Idem., Sec. 218, p. 859; 24 Am.Jur., Garages, Parking Stations, and Liveries, Secs. 50-51, pp. 504-505; 33 Am.Jur., Liens, Sec. 33, p. 436.

Nevertheless, the Truck Corporation contends that the enactment in 1915 of Sections 430.010-430.050, V.A.M.S., destroys the effect and force of these decisions. Section 430.020 provides that 'every person who furnishes labor or material on any vehicle, part or equipment thereof, who shall obtain a written memorandum of the work or material furnished, or to be furnished, signed by the owner of such vehicle, part or equipment thereof, shall have a lien for the amount of such work or material as is ordered or stated in such written memorandum.' Enforcement of this lien is provided for by Section 430.050. Section 430.040 provides that 'such lien shall not take precedence over or be superior to any prior lien on said property, created by any chattel mortgage on the same, duly filed or recorded in accordance with the laws of this state, without the written consent of the mortgagee or the legal holder of said chattel mortgage.' We cannot agree with this contention.

These statutes did not abrogate the artisan's common-law lien for repairs. Except for the contrary ruling in Butterworth v. Soltz, 199 Mo.App. 507, 204 S.W. 50, subsequently repudiated in McCluskey v. De Long, 239 Mo.App. 1026, 198 S.W.2d 673, our three courts of appeals have unanimously held, and still do, that the enactment of Sections 430.010-430.050, V.A.M.S., a creating the statutory lien, did not destroy or affect the Missouri artisan's common-law lien. It still exists in full force, with all of its original attributes. Bostic v. Workman, 224 Mo.App. 645, 31 S.W.2d 218; State ex rel. Rueseler Motor Co. v. Klaus, Mo.App., 281 S.W.2d 543. The Supreme Court acknowledges the existence of this lien. Hughes v. Aetna Ins. Co., Mo., 261 S.W.2d 942. Therefore, the Implement Company's artisan's lien for repairs exists, notwithstanding the failure to obtain a written memorandum signed by the owner of the truck. Furthermore, the statute, Section 430.040, contains no reference to priority except its provision that the lien it creates shall not take precedence over the lien of a chattel mortgage (and, by analogy, a conditional sales contract) 'duly filed or recorded in accordance with the laws of this state, without the written consent of the mortgagee or the legal holder of said chattel mortgage.'

We are not required to decide whether the Kirtley, Stone, Lazarus, and Birmingham cases remain in such force and effect, despite Sections 430.010-430.050, V.A.M.S., creating the statutory lien, that an artisan's common-law lien for repairs is still to be granted priority over a chattel...

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