McGuire v. Edwards, No. ED 106860

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtKURT S. ODENWALD, Presiding Judge
Citation571 S.W.3d 661
Decision Date02 April 2019
Docket NumberNo. ED 106860
Parties Dr. Patt MCGUIRE, Appellant, v. Jerry EDWARDS, Scott Briete, St. Louis County, State of Missouri, Office of the State Court Administrator, and Genevieve Frank, Respondents.

571 S.W.3d 661

Dr. Patt MCGUIRE, Appellant,
v.
Jerry EDWARDS, Scott Briete, St. Louis County, State of Missouri, Office of the State Court Administrator, and Genevieve Frank, Respondents.

No. ED 106860

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, DIVISION FOUR.

FILED: April 2, 2019
Rehearing Denied April 29, 2019


Dr. Patt McGuire, 10164 Ventura Dr., St. Louis, MO 63136, for appellant.

Robert J. Isaacson, PO Box 861, St. Louis, MO 63188, Priscilla F. Gunn, 41 South Central Ave., 9th Fl., Clayton, MO 63105, for respondents.

KURT S. ODENWALD, Presiding Judge

Introduction

Dr. Patt McGuire ("Dr. McGuire") appeals from the circuit court’s dismissal of her amended petition regarding a clerical error on Case.net for failure to state a claim. We dismiss Dr. McGuire’s appeal for failure to comply with the mandatory appellate briefing standards of Rule 84.04.1 Even had Dr. McGuire’s brief complied with the requirements of Rule 84.04, her amended petition creates no cognizable legal cause of action and is thus meritless.

Factual and Procedural History

Dr. McGuire filed an employment discrimination claim against her former employer. During the course of her suit, Dr. McGuire noticed when she looked at Case.net online that the system had removed two of the defendants on her case ("the Change").2 Specifically, after the Change, Case.net showed that two parties had an "end date" of November 21, 2017 and showed the "party end reason" as "Party Released/Ended."

Dr. McGuire sought to speak about the Change with the judge assigned to her employment discrimination case. The judge’s clerk ("Clerk") attempted to answer Dr. McGuire’s questions regarding the Change on Case.net. Clerk stated that she was unfamiliar with the Change and asked Dr. McGuire to wait while Clerk spoke with the judge. After a few minutes, Clerk returned to Dr. McGuire and told her "the judge said he did not do that." Dr. McGuire requested that Clerk ask a manager how and why the Change appeared on Case.net. Clerk sent Dr. McGuire to the Circuit Clerk’s Office. Once there, Dr. McGuire insisted on speaking with the lead manager. However, he was unavailable at the time.

The following day, Dr. McGuire returned to the Circuit Clerk’s Office. Jerry Edwards ("Edwards"), the director of the Circuit Clerk’s Office, assisted Dr. McGuire. Edwards reviewed Case.net and

571 S.W.3d 665

corrected the Change to reflect that no party had been formally dismissed from Dr. McGuire’s employment discrimination case. Dr. McGuire asked how the Change occurred and who changed the information, among other questions. Edwards was unable to answer and referred Dr. McGuire to the legal department. The Change was viewable on Case.net for a total of six days.

Dr. McGuire then filed a claim against Edwards and St. Louis County for tampering, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dr. McGuire sought $35,000,000 in compensatory damages and another $35,000,000 in punitive damages. Edwards removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. McGuire v. Edwards, No. 4:18-CV-71 CAS, 2018 WL 783064 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 8, 2018). The United States District Court remanded the case to St. Louis County because even though Dr. McGuire asserted a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, her "claims [were] so completely devoid of merit as to not involve a federal controversy." Id. After the case was remanded to St. Louis County, Dr. McGuire filed an amended petition, asserting claims against Edwards, Scott Briete—Edwards’s immediate supervisor—the State of Missouri, St. Louis County, and the Office of the State Court Administrator (collectively, "Respondents"). Respondents moved to dismiss Dr. McGuire’s petition for failure to state a claim. The circuit court granted Respondents' motion and dismissed Dr. McGuire’s petition with prejudice. Dr. McGuire now appeals.

Standard of Review

We review a trial court’s grant of a motion to dismiss de novo. Metro. St. Louis Sewer Dist. v. City of Bellefontaine Neighbors, 476 S.W.3d 913, 915 (Mo. banc 2016) (quoting Lynch v. Lynch, 260 S.W.3d 834, 836 (Mo. banc 2008) ). We "treat[ ] the facts contained in the petition as true and in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Id. Further, "[i]f the petition sets forth any set of facts that, if proven, would entitle the plaintiff[ ] to relief, then the petition states a claim." Id.

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim tests the adequacy of a plaintiff’s petition. When considering whether a petition fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, this Court must accept all properly pleaded facts as true, giving the pleadings their broadest intendment, and construe all allegations favorably to the pleader. The Court reviews the petition to see if the facts alleged, given their broadest intendment, meet the elements of a cause of action that is recognized or that might be adopted.

Peters v. Wady Indus., 489 S.W.3d 784, 789 (Mo. banc 2016) (internal quotations omitted).

Discussion

I. Dr. McGuire Submitted an Insufficient Appellate Brief under Rule 84.04.

Dr. McGuire is a pro se appellant. We hold pro se appellants to the same standards as attorneys, including considerations for compliance with Supreme Court of Missouri Rules. See Carlisle v. Rainbow Connection, Inc., 300 S.W.3d 583, 584 (Mo. App. E.D. 2009). Although "[w]e are mindful of the problems that a pro se litigant faces[,] ... judicial impartiality, judicial economy, and fairness to all parties necessitate that we do not grant a pro se appellant preferential treatment with regard to complying with the rules of appellate procedure." Id. at 584–85 ;

571 S.W.3d 666

Midtown Home Improvements, Inc. v. Taylor, No. ED106721, ––– S.W.3d ––––, ––––, 2019 WL 1029609, at *2 (Mo. App. E.D. Mar. 5, 2019). Under the clear mandate of Rule 84.04, "[w]hile we prefer, whenever possible, to dispose of a case on the merits, we must dismiss the appeal if the deficiencies in the brief are such that no claims are preserved for appellate review." Taylor, ––– S.W.3d at ––––, 2019 WL 1029609, at *5 (citing Hamilton v. Archer, 545 S.W.3d 377, 379 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018) ); see also Carden v. Mo. Intergovernmental Risk Mgmt. Ass'n, 258 S.W.3d 547, 557 (Mo. App. S.D. 2008) ("This [C]ourt is under no obligation to review briefs which do not conform to the rules of procedure.").

An appellate brief must contain:

1) a detailed table of contents and an alphabetically-arranged table of cases and other authorities cited, all with corresponding page references, 2) a concise statement of the jurisdictional grounds, 3) a statement of facts, 4) a "Point Relied On" for each issue on appeal, 5) an argument that substantially follows the corresponding "Point Relied On," and 6) a statement of the precise relief sought.

Porter v. Div. of Emp't Sec., 310 S.W.3d 295, 296 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010) ; Rule 84.04(a). As an appellate court, we should not speculate as to the parameters of the appellant’s argument because doing so would improperly cast the court in the role of the appellant’s advocate. Porter, 310 S.W.3d at 296.

Dr. McGuire’s appellate brief violates Rule 84.04 in several respects, leaving nothing for appellate review. See Carden, 258 S.W.3d at 557.

Beginning with Dr. McGuire’s jurisdictional statement, her brief is insufficient under Rule 84.04. See Taylor, ––– S.W.3d at ––––, 2019 WL 1029609, at *2. A jurisdictional statement must "set forth sufficient factual data to demonstrate the applicability of the particular provision or provisions of article V, section 3 of the [Missouri] Constitution upon which jurisdiction is sought to be predicated." Rule 84.04(b). Dr. McGuire’s jurisdictional statement, however, notes only a brief summary of her original suit. Specifically, the jurisdictional statement provides:

Appellant’s civil case, filed with the circuit clerk’s office data was intentionally tampered with, Section 537-050, RSMo, and hence remained for six (6) days until the appellant questioned the falsified data with the active presiding judge clerk on the case and management, management without an Order accessed the appellant’s case for a second time, without authorization and made further changes.

The jurisdictional statement does not refer to the constitutional basis for this Court’s jurisdiction. Unifund CCR Partners v. Myers, 563 S.W.3d 740, 742 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018). Instead, Dr. McGuire’s jurisdictional statement is an argumentative statement of facts. See Porter, 310 S.W.3d at 297. Dr. McGuire’s jurisdictional statement fails to establish this Court’s jurisdiction and thus merits dismissing the appeal. See Carden, 258 S.W.3d at 554.

Additionally, although Dr. McGuire included a section entitled "Points on Appeal," this section is woefully inadequate under the criteria set forth under Rule 84.04(d). Each of Dr. McGuire’s points on appeal fail to clearly and concisely state a claim of error. The deficiencies of Dr. McGuire’s Points on Appeal are exemplified in Point Three:

The [circuit] court erred in denying Dr. McGuire’s claim to establish the right to Accurate Entries because this decision was contrary to Judicial Personnel responsibilities, not supported by the substantial evidence and against the weight of the
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9 practice notes
  • Gill v. City of St. Peters, ED 109658
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 1, 2022
    ...We affirm.Facts and Procedural BackgroundViewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and taken as true, McGuire v. Edwards , 571 S.W.3d 661, 665 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019), the facts in the petition are as follows. Amanda Gill began working for the City of St. Peters ("City") as a dispatc......
  • Hendrix v. City of St. Louis, ED 108858
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • November 9, 2021
    ...Relied On alert the opposing parties of all matters in dispute and inform the Court of the issues we must review. McGuire v. Edwards , 571 S.W.3d 661, 667 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019), reh'g denied (Apr. 29, 2019). Rule 84.04(e) then outlines the specific requirements that parties must follow in th......
  • Gill v. City of St. Peters, ED109658
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 1, 2022
    ...We affirm. Facts and Procedural Background Viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and taken as true, McGuire v. Edwards, 571 S.W.3d 661, 665 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019), the facts in the petition are as follows. Amanda Gill began working for the City of St. Peters ("City") as a dispat......
  • Carmen v. Olsen, No. ED 108505
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 20, 2020
    ...to review an appeal ex gratia when the failure does not substantially prevent meaningful review. 611 S.W.3d 371 McGuire v. Edwards , 571 S.W.3d 661, 667–68 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019). "However, if the brief is so deficient that we cannot competently rule on the merits without first reconstructing......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Gill v. City of St. Peters, ED 109658
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 1, 2022
    ...We affirm.Facts and Procedural BackgroundViewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and taken as true, McGuire v. Edwards , 571 S.W.3d 661, 665 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019), the facts in the petition are as follows. Amanda Gill began working for the City of St. Peters ("City") as a dispatc......
  • Hendrix v. City of St. Louis, ED 108858
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • November 9, 2021
    ...Relied On alert the opposing parties of all matters in dispute and inform the Court of the issues we must review. McGuire v. Edwards , 571 S.W.3d 661, 667 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019), reh'g denied (Apr. 29, 2019). Rule 84.04(e) then outlines the specific requirements that parties must follow in th......
  • Gill v. City of St. Peters, ED109658
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 1, 2022
    ...We affirm. Facts and Procedural Background Viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and taken as true, McGuire v. Edwards, 571 S.W.3d 661, 665 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019), the facts in the petition are as follows. Amanda Gill began working for the City of St. Peters ("City") as a dispat......
  • Carmen v. Olsen, No. ED 108505
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 20, 2020
    ...to review an appeal ex gratia when the failure does not substantially prevent meaningful review. 611 S.W.3d 371 McGuire v. Edwards , 571 S.W.3d 661, 667–68 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019). "However, if the brief is so deficient that we cannot competently rule on the merits without first reconstructing......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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