Ruby v. Troupe, WD 82014

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtAlok Ahuja, Judge
Citation580 S.W.3d 112
Decision Date13 August 2019
Docket NumberWD 82014
Parties Cory RUBY and Mindi Ruby, Respondents, v. Benjamin TROUPE and Sherley Troupe, et al., Appellants.

580 S.W.3d 112

Cory RUBY and Mindi Ruby, Respondents,
v.
Benjamin TROUPE and Sherley Troupe, et al., Appellants.

WD 82014

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.

Filed: August 13, 2019


James R. Brown, Kearney, MO Counsel for Appellant.

Conrad Miller, Jr., Overland Park, KS Counsel for Respondents.

Before Division Four: Karen King Mitchell, C.J., and Alok Ahuja and Cynthia L. Martin, JJ.

Alok Ahuja, Judge

580 S.W.3d 114

Benjamin and Sherley Troupe appeal the judgment of the Circuit Court of Clay County quieting title to a 0.9-acre tract of land in favor of the Troupes' neighbors, Corey and Mindi Ruby. Although the Rubys hold legal title to the disputed property, the Troupes contended that they acquired the property by adverse possession. The circuit court rejected the Troupes' adverse possession claim following a bench trial. On appeal the Troupes claim that, under the evidence presented at trial, they established all of the elements of an adverse possession claim. Because we conclude that substantial evidence supports the circuit court’s finding that the Troupes did not exercise exclusive possession over the disputed property, we affirm the circuit court’s rejection of their adverse possession claim.

The Troupes' arguments on appeal are highly fact-specific, and a published opinion addressing the merits of their claims would have no precedential value. Pursuant to Rule 84.16(b), we have instead provided the parties an unpublished memorandum setting forth the reasons for our affirmance of the circuit court’s judgment. This published opinion addresses only a threshold issue: whether this Court has jurisdiction over the Troupes' appeal.

Neither party raised an issue concerning our appellate jurisdiction. Nevertheless, "the Court has an obligation, acting sua sponte if necessary, to determine its authority to hear the appeals that come before it." Glasgow Sch. Dist. v. Howard Cnty. Coroner , 572 S.W.3d 543, 547 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

"A prerequisite to appellate review is that there be a final judgment." Gibson v. Brewer , 952 S.W.2d 239, 244 (Mo. banc 1997) (quoting Boley v. Knowles, 905 S.W.2d 86, 88 (Mo. banc 1995) (citing § 512.020, RSMo )). "If the trial court’s judgment is not final, the reviewing court lacks jurisdiction and the appeal must be dismissed." Glasgow Sch. Dist. , 572 S.W.3d at 547 (citation omitted). "A final, appealable judgment resolves all issues in a case, leaving nothing for future determination." Archdekin v. Archdekin , 562 S.W.3d 298, 304 (Mo. banc 2018) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

A finality issue arises in this case because the prayer for relief in the Rubys' petition asked the circuit court to "[a]ward [the Rubys] their costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees for defense of the title to the property. " (Emphasis added.) The circuit court’s judgment did not address the Rubys' entitlement to attorney’s fees.

An unresolved claim for attorney’s fees can arrest the finality of a judgment, and defeat appellate jurisdiction.1 Although the judgment in this case did not address the attorney’s fee issue, we conclude for two independent reasons that the circuit court’s judgment is final and appealable.

First , the Rubys did not properly plead a claim for attorney’s fees against the Troupes. Although the prayer for relief of the Rubys' petition requested an award of attorney’s fees,

[a] prayer for relief, considered in isolation, is not a claim for relief. "Although it is sometimes said that the prayer is no part of the petition, it is more accurate to state that the relief prayed for is no part of plaintiff’s cause of action or
580 S.W.3d 115
claim for relief. " In other words, the prayer for relief against the [defendants] only has meaning when considered in context with the cause of action asserted by the [plaintiff] against the [defendants] in the ... Petition.

State ex rel. Moore v. Ligons , 532 S.W.3d 719, 723 (Mo. App. S.D. 2017) (quoting Wear v. Walker , 800 S.W.2d 99, 102 (Mo. App. S.D. 1990) ; emphasis added by Ligons ); see also State ex rel. Hammerstein v. Hess , 472 S.W.2d 362, 364 (Mo. 1971) ; HFC Invs., LLC v. Valley View State Bank , 361...

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6 practice notes
  • Hendrix v. City of St. Louis, ED 108858
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 9 Noviembre 2021
    ...receive them. Scheck Indus. Corp. v. Tarlton Corp. , 435 S.W.3d 705, 732 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) (emphasis added); accord Ruby v. Troupe , 580 S.W.3d 112, 115 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019) ; Lau v. Pugh , 299 S.W.3d 740, 751 (Mo. App. S.D. 2009). This is true even when a statute provides the basis for ......
  • Cupit v. Dry Basement, Inc., WD 82683
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 28 Enero 2020
    ...all parties involved in a case.").3 "An unresolved claim for attorney’s fees can arrest the finality of a judgment...." Ruby v. Troupe , 580 S.W.3d 112, 114 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019) (emphasis omitted) (citing State ex rel. Kinder v. Dandurand , 261 S.W.3d 667, 671 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008) ; Jones v......
  • Cox v. Grady Hotel Invs., LLC, WD 83097
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 28 Julio 2020
    ...Union Manor v. Missouri Dep't of Health and Senior Servs. , 596 S.W.3d 673, 677 n.2 (Mo. App. W.D. 2020) (quoting Ruby v. Troupe , 580 S.W.3d 112, 114 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019) ). A trial court's "failure to address an attorneys’ fees issue will impact the finality of the judgment only when the ......
  • Schmidt v. Dart Bein, LC, WD 84253 (
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 26 Abril 2022
    ...)."An unresolved claim for attorney's fees can arrest the finality of a judgment, and defeat appellate jurisdiction." Ruby v. Troupe , 580 S.W.3d 112, 114 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019). "The general rule in Missouri is that attorneys’ fees are only recoverable when a statute specifically authorizes ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Hendrix v. City of St. Louis, ED 108858
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 9 Noviembre 2021
    ...receive them. Scheck Indus. Corp. v. Tarlton Corp. , 435 S.W.3d 705, 732 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) (emphasis added); accord Ruby v. Troupe , 580 S.W.3d 112, 115 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019) ; Lau v. Pugh , 299 S.W.3d 740, 751 (Mo. App. S.D. 2009). This is true even when a statute provides the basis for ......
  • Cupit v. Dry Basement, Inc., WD 82683
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 28 Enero 2020
    ...all parties involved in a case.").3 "An unresolved claim for attorney’s fees can arrest the finality of a judgment...." Ruby v. Troupe , 580 S.W.3d 112, 114 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019) (emphasis omitted) (citing State ex rel. Kinder v. Dandurand , 261 S.W.3d 667, 671 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008) ; Jones v......
  • Cox v. Grady Hotel Invs., LLC, WD 83097
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 28 Julio 2020
    ...Union Manor v. Missouri Dep't of Health and Senior Servs. , 596 S.W.3d 673, 677 n.2 (Mo. App. W.D. 2020) (quoting Ruby v. Troupe , 580 S.W.3d 112, 114 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019) ). A trial court's "failure to address an attorneys’ fees issue will impact the finality of the judgment only when the ......
  • Schmidt v. Dart Bein, LC, WD 84253 (
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 26 Abril 2022
    ...)."An unresolved claim for attorney's fees can arrest the finality of a judgment, and defeat appellate jurisdiction." Ruby v. Troupe , 580 S.W.3d 112, 114 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019). "The general rule in Missouri is that attorneys’ fees are only recoverable when a statute specifically authorizes ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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