State ex rel. Young v. Wood, No. SC 88840.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtWilliam Ray Price, Jr.
Citation254 S.W.3d 871
PartiesSTATE ex. rel. A. Carlton YOUNG, and Arline E. Young, Relators, v. The Honorable Gael D. WOOD, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. SC 88840.
Decision Date10 June 2008
254 S.W.3d 871
STATE ex. rel. A. Carlton YOUNG, and Arline E. Young, Relators,
v.
The Honorable Gael D. WOOD, Respondent.
No. SC 88840.
Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc.
June 10, 2008.

[254 S.W.3d 872]

David P. Bub, Jennine D. Adamek Moore, Kenneth R. Goleaner, Brown & James, St. Louis, MO, for Relators.

P. Dennis Barks, Hermann, Sam P. Rynearson, David A. Fletz, Michael P. Gunn, St. Louis, MO, for Respondent.

WILLIAM RAY PRICE, JR., Judge.


I. Introduction

Relators seek a writ of mandamus ordering dismissal of a wrongful death claim brought by the decedents of a man killed while hunting on Relators' property. Because Relators are entitled to immunity under Missouri's Recreational Use Act ("RUA"),1 the alternative writ of mandamus is made peremptory.

II. Facts

Relators, the Youngs, gave permission to James Shaw and John Hartnagel to enter their farm for the purpose of hunting wild turkeys. Neither man knew the other was on the farm. While hunting, Hartnagel thought he heard a wild turkey and discharged his weapon in the direction of the sound. Unfortunately, the source of the noise was Shaw, who was struck by the shots fired and died from the injuries.

Plaintiffs sued Relators as well as Hartnagel for wrongful death, alleging that Relators were negligent in failing to warn Shaw that other hunters were or might be nearby. Relators filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing immunity from suit under the RUA. The motion was denied. Relators ask this Court to issue a writ of mandamus directing Respondent to vacate denial of Relators' motion to dismiss, and to enter an order dismissing Plaintiffs' claim against Relators.

III. Standard of Review

A litigant seeking mandamus must "allege and prove that he has a clear, unequivocal, specific right to a thing claimed." Furlong Companies, Inc. v. City of Kansas City, 189 S.W.3d 157, 166 (Mo. banc 2006). A court will only issue the writ if the "ministerial duty sought to be coerced is definite, arising under conditions admitted or proved and imposed by law." Id. This Court reviews the circuit court's actions for an abuse of discretion, including failure to follow applicable statutes. State ex rel. City of Jennings v. Riley, 236 S.W.3d 630, 631 (Mo. banc 2007). "A defendant who is clearly entitled to immunity should not be required to proceed through trial and appeal in order to enforce that protection." State ex rel. Mo. Highway & Transp. Comm'n v. Dierker, 961 S.W.2d 58, 60 (Mo. banc 1998).

IV. Analysis
A.

The primary rule of statutory interpretation is to give effect to legislative intent as reflected in the plain language of

254 S.W.3d 873

the statute. State ex rel. Burns v. Whittington, 219 S.W.3d 224, 225 (Mo. banc 2007). When the statute's language is unambiguous, a court must give effect to the legislature's chosen language. Kerperien v. Lumberman's Mut. Cas. Co., 100 S.W.3d 778, 781 (Mo. banc 2003). "A court may not add words by implication to a statute that is clear and unambiguous." Asbury v. Lombardi, 846 S.W.2d 196, 202 n. 9 (Mo. banc 1993).

B.

The key portion of the RUA, section 537.346, states:

Except as provided in sections 537.345 to 537.348, an owner of land owes no duty of care to any person who enters on the land without charge to keep his land safe for...

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15 practice notes
  • Roesing v. Dir. Revenue, No. SC 97165
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 30 d2 Abril d2 2019
    ...the right to "twenty minutes in which to attempt to contact an attorney." § 577.041.1; see also State ex rel. Young v. Wood , 254 S.W.3d 871, 873 (Mo. banc 2008) ("When the statute’s language is unambiguous, a court must give effect to the legislature’s chosen language."......
  • Treasurer of State v. Witte, Nos. SC 92834
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 12 d2 Novembro d2 2013
    ...2004)). If the language is unambiguous, this Court “must give effect to the legislature's chosen language.” State ex rel. Young v. Wood, 254 S.W.3d 871, 873 (Mo. banc 2008). Only where the language is ambiguous will the Court resort to other rules of statutory construction. Goerlitz v. City......
  • Leblanc v. Research Belton Hosp., No. WD 69248.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 9 d2 Dezembro d2 2008
    ...the meaning of a statute, we look to the plain language to ascertain the legislature's intent. See State ex rel. Young v. Wood, 254 S.W.3d 871, 872-73 (Mo. banc 2008). We will "not add words by implication to a statute that is clear and unambiguous." Id. at 873 (internal quotation......
  • State ex rel. Valentine v. Orr, No. SC 92434.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 12 d2 Junho d2 2012
    ...must “allege and prove that he [or she] has a clear, unequivocal, specific right to a thing claimed.” State ex rel. Young v. Wood, 254 S.W.3d 871, 872 (Mo. banc 2008) (quoting Furlong Cos., Inc. v. City of Kansas City, 189 S.W.3d 157, 166 (Mo. banc 2006)). “Ordinarily, mandamus is the prope......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Roesing v. Dir. Revenue, No. SC 97165
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 30 d2 Abril d2 2019
    ...the right to "twenty minutes in which to attempt to contact an attorney." § 577.041.1; see also State ex rel. Young v. Wood , 254 S.W.3d 871, 873 (Mo. banc 2008) ("When the statute’s language is unambiguous, a court must give effect to the legislature’s chosen language."......
  • Treasurer of State v. Witte, Nos. SC 92834
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 12 d2 Novembro d2 2013
    ...2004)). If the language is unambiguous, this Court “must give effect to the legislature's chosen language.” State ex rel. Young v. Wood, 254 S.W.3d 871, 873 (Mo. banc 2008). Only where the language is ambiguous will the Court resort to other rules of statutory construction. Goerlitz v. City......
  • Leblanc v. Research Belton Hosp., No. WD 69248.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 9 d2 Dezembro d2 2008
    ...the meaning of a statute, we look to the plain language to ascertain the legislature's intent. See State ex rel. Young v. Wood, 254 S.W.3d 871, 872-73 (Mo. banc 2008). We will "not add words by implication to a statute that is clear and unambiguous." Id. at 873 (internal quotation......
  • State ex rel. Valentine v. Orr, No. SC 92434.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 12 d2 Junho d2 2012
    ...must “allege and prove that he [or she] has a clear, unequivocal, specific right to a thing claimed.” State ex rel. Young v. Wood, 254 S.W.3d 871, 872 (Mo. banc 2008) (quoting Furlong Cos., Inc. v. City of Kansas City, 189 S.W.3d 157, 166 (Mo. banc 2006)). “Ordinarily, mandamus is the prope......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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