State ex rel. Gina Marie HOUSKA v. The Honorable Ray DICKHANER, No. SC 90701.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtWILLIAM RAY PRICE, JR., Chief Justice.
Citation323 S.W.3d 29
PartiesSTATE ex rel. Gina Marie HOUSKA, Personal Representative of the Estate of Jeffrey A. Houska, Deceased, Relator, v. The Honorable Ray DICKHANER, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. SC 90701.
Decision Date16 November 2010

323 S.W.3d 29

STATE ex rel. Gina Marie HOUSKA, Personal Representative of the Estate of Jeffrey A. Houska, Deceased, Relator,
v.
The Honorable Ray DICKHANER, Respondent.

No. SC 90701.

Supreme Court of Missouri,En Banc.

Oct. 5, 2010.
Rehearing Denied Nov. 16, 2010.


323 S.W.3d 30

Thomas J. Ray Jr., Ray Law offices PC, Arnold, for estate.

323 S.W.3d 31

C. Timothy Rice, St. Louis, for Panagos.

WILLIAM RAY PRICE, JR., Chief Justice.

James T. Panagos, LLC completed work for Jeffrey Houska, but Houska died without paying Panagos. Panagos first brought his claim for payment against Houska's estate two-and-a-half-years later. The trial court held that the claim was barred under sections 473.444 and 473.360, RSMo 2000. 1 Panagos filed a motion for rehearing, which was granted to determine if section 473.444 violated Panagos' due process rights.

The estate seeks an order prohibiting the trial court from reinstating the claim Panagos asserted against it. This Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition. Section 473.444 does not implicate due process because it is self-executing and does not constitute sufficient state action. The preliminary writ is made permanent.

I. Facts and Procedural History

In 2006, Panagos performed electrical contracting services and supplied electrical material for a home being built by Jeffrey Houska. Panagos furnished his invoice, in the amount of $1,498.75, to Houska on October 26, 2006. Houska died one week later, on November 2, 2006, without paying Panagos for his services. On May 11, 2007, the estate published letters of administration. Panagos brought a claim against the estate on May 5, 2009.

The trial court barred Panagos' claim under both sections 473.444 and 473.360, 2 which govern the time periods in which creditors may bring claims against estates. Panagos filed a motion for rehearing, which the trial court granted. The trial court reinstated Panagos' claim on the basis of Tulsa Professional Collection Services, Inc. v. Pope, 485 U.S. 478, 108 S.Ct. 1340, 99 L.Ed.2d 565 (1988), which held that an Oklahoma nonclaim statute violated creditors' due process rights because the trial court was intimately involved in the application of the time bar and the statute did not require the estate to give creditors actual notice. The trial court then set a hearing date to determine whether the standards in Pope had been met.

The estate petitioned this Court to prohibit the trial court from reinstating Panagos' claim, and a preliminary writ of prohibition issued. Panagos argues that section 473.444 violates due process because it bars most creditors' claims against an estate that are brought more than one year after a decedent's death and does not require the estate to give the creditors actual notice of the probate proceedings. 3

323 S.W.3d 32

II. Standard of Review

A writ of prohibition is available: (1) to prevent a usurpation of judicial power when the trial court lacks authority or jurisdiction; (2) to remedy an excess of authority, jurisdiction or abuse of discretion where the lower court lacks the power to act as intended; or (3) where a party may suffer irreparable harm if relief is not granted. State ex rel. Missouri Public Defender Comm'n v. Pratte, 298 S.W.3d 870, 880 (Mo. banc 2009). Prohibition may be appropriate to prevent unnecessary, inconvenient, and expensive litigation. State ex rel. Henley v. Bickel, 285 S.W.3d 327, 330 (Mo. banc 2009). Here, where the estate alleges that the trial court improperly reinstated Panagos' claim, a writ of prohibition is the appropriate remedy to prevent unnecessary and expensive litigation.

III. Analysis

A. Under Pope, Section 473.444 Is Self-Executing and Does Not Implicate Due Process Protections.

In response to the estate's writ, Panagos argues that section 473.444 violates the Due Process Clauses of the Missouri and United States Constitutions because the statute does not require actual notice to decedents' creditors. Section 473.444 provides:

Unless otherwise barred by law, all claims against the estate of a deceased person, other than costs and expenses of administration, exempt property, family allowance, homestead allowance, claims of the United States and claims of any taxing authority within the United States, ... shall become unenforceable and shall be forever barred against the estate ... one year following the date of the decedent's death, whether or not administration of the decedent's estate is had or commenced within such one-year period and whether or not during such period a claimant has been given any notice, actual or constructive, of the decedent's death or of the need to file a claim in any court.

(Emphasis added).

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to provide...

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19 practice notes
  • Martin v. State, WD 79460.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 9, 2017
    ...194 S.W.3d 833, 841 (Mo. banc 2006) ; Jamison v. State, 218 S.W.3d 399, 405 n. 7 (Mo. banc 2007) ; State ex rel. Houska v. Dickhaner, 323 S.W.3d 29, 33 n. 4 (Mo. banc 2010). And, "[e]ach time our courts have compared the state and federal constitutional provisions, they have concluded that ......
  • State ex rel. KCP & L Greater Missouri Operations Co. v. Cook, No. WD 73462.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • September 13, 2011
    ...power to act as intended; or (3) where a party may suffer irreparable harm if relief is not granted.” State ex rel. Houska v. Dickhaner, 323 S.W.3d 29, 32 (Mo. banc 2010). In particular, “[p]rohibition may be appropriate to prevent unnecessary, inconvenient, and expensive litigation.” Id.; ......
  • State ex rel. Dir. of Revenue v. McBeth, No. WD 74514.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 9, 2012
    ...relief is not granted.State ex rel. McKeage v. Cordonnier, 357 S.W.3d 597, 599 (Mo. banc 2012) (citing State ex rel. Houska v. Dickhaner, 323 S.W.3d 29, 32 (Mo. banc 2010)). Whether to issue a writ lies within our discretion; an extraordinary writ “does not issue as a matter of right.” Stat......
  • State v. Faruqi, No. SC 91195.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • August 30, 2011
    ...must be raised at the earliest opportunity consistent with good pleading and orderly procedure.’ ” State ex rel. Houska v. Dickhaner, 323 S.W.3d 29, 33 (Mo. banc 2010) (internal quotations omitted). “A statute is presumed to be constitutional and will not be invalidated unless it clearly an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Martin v. State, WD 79460.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 9, 2017
    ...194 S.W.3d 833, 841 (Mo. banc 2006) ; Jamison v. State, 218 S.W.3d 399, 405 n. 7 (Mo. banc 2007) ; State ex rel. Houska v. Dickhaner, 323 S.W.3d 29, 33 n. 4 (Mo. banc 2010). And, "[e]ach time our courts have compared the state and federal constitutional provisions, they have concluded that ......
  • State ex rel. KCP & L Greater Missouri Operations Co. v. Cook, No. WD 73462.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • September 13, 2011
    ...power to act as intended; or (3) where a party may suffer irreparable harm if relief is not granted.” State ex rel. Houska v. Dickhaner, 323 S.W.3d 29, 32 (Mo. banc 2010). In particular, “[p]rohibition may be appropriate to prevent unnecessary, inconvenient, and expensive litigation.” Id.; ......
  • State ex rel. Dir. of Revenue v. McBeth, No. WD 74514.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 9, 2012
    ...relief is not granted.State ex rel. McKeage v. Cordonnier, 357 S.W.3d 597, 599 (Mo. banc 2012) (citing State ex rel. Houska v. Dickhaner, 323 S.W.3d 29, 32 (Mo. banc 2010)). Whether to issue a writ lies within our discretion; an extraordinary writ “does not issue as a matter of right.” Stat......
  • State v. Faruqi, No. SC 91195.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • August 30, 2011
    ...must be raised at the earliest opportunity consistent with good pleading and orderly procedure.’ ” State ex rel. Houska v. Dickhaner, 323 S.W.3d 29, 33 (Mo. banc 2010) (internal quotations omitted). “A statute is presumed to be constitutional and will not be invalidated unless it clearly an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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