State v. Mo. Comm'n On Human Rights, WD 81135

CourtMissouri Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtAlok Ahuja, Judge
Citation561 S.W.3d 48
Parties STATE of Missouri, EX REL. James NAUGLES, Appellant, v. MISSOURI COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, B.A. and Alisa Warren, Respondents.
Docket NumberWD 81135
Decision Date21 August 2018

561 S.W.3d 48

STATE of Missouri, EX REL. James NAUGLES, Appellant,
v.
MISSOURI COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, B.A. and Alisa Warren, Respondents.

WD 81135

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.

Filed: August 21, 2018
Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied September 25, 2018
Application for Transfer Denied December 4, 2018


Brendan D. Roediger, Joan M. Hoyt (Rule 13 student), Jenna Scott (Rule 13 student), St. Louis for appellant.

Mandolin Jackson, Jefferson City for respondent.

R. Travis Willingham, Kansas City, for Jackson County, Missouri as Amicus Curiae.

Before Division Four: Mark D. Pfeiffer, P.J., and Alok Ahuja and Edward R. Ardini, Jr., JJ.

Alok Ahuja, Judge

James Naugles is currently an inmate at the Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Care Center in St. Joseph, a prison facility operated by the Department of Corrections. The Commission on Human Rights refused to investigate Naugles' complaint that the Department was discriminating against him on the basis of his disability by failing to provide handicap-accessible facilities at the prison. Naugles then filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Circuit Court of Cole County, to force the Commission to investigate his complaint. The court denied the writ, finding that the Commission lacked statutory authority over Naugles' claim because prisons are not "places of public accommodation" within the meaning of the Missouri Human Rights Act, § 213.010 et seq.1 Naugles appeals. We affirm.

Factual Background

Naugles is presently in the custody of the Department of Corrections. On July 7,

561 S.W.3d 50

2016, he was transferred to the Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Care Center in St. Joseph. Naugles is paraplegic, and has had both of his feet amputated while he has been incarcerated. He is wheelchair-bound. Naugles alleged that the Correctional Center lacks handicap-accessible facilities for dining, worship, recreation, and education, and that he has accordingly been confined to the hospital wing of the facility, where he does not have access to the full range of services offered to able-bodied inmates. Prior to being transferred to St. Joseph, Naugles alleged that he was able to exercise and participate in daily activities at other Department facilities. Naugles alleged that, at the time his petition was filed, he had not been outdoors for almost a year. Naugles claimed that he and his attorney had made multiple requests to be transferred to a handicap-accessible facility, but that Department officials ignored those requests.

On December 15, 2016, Naugles filed an official Intake Questionnaire with the Commission on Human Rights, complaining that the Department of Corrections was discriminating against him based on his disability. On January 11, 2017, his attorney received a letter from the Commission, stating that the Commission "does not have jurisdiction over institutional situations or court issues."

Naugles filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus against the Commission and its Executive Director, Dr. Alisa Warren, seeking an order directing the respondents to investigate his complaints of disability-based discrimination. The circuit court issued preliminary orders in mandamus directing the respondents to answer the petition. Following respondents' filing of an answer, and briefing and argument by the parties on the merits of Naugles' petition, the circuit court entered its judgment denying Naugles relief. The court concluded that, as with private parties, the MHRA only provides a remedy for discrimination by State entities in employment, housing, or places of public accommodation. The court also concluded that "[p]risons are not places of public accommodation under the MHRA because the private nature of the prisons counteracts their public character."

Naugles appeals.

Jurisdiction and Standard of Review

"When a circuit court ‘issues a preliminary order and a permanent writ later is denied, the proper remedy is an appeal.’ " Curtis v. Mo. Democratic Party , 548 S.W.3d 909, 914 (Mo. banc 2018) (quoting State ex rel. Ashby Rd. Partners, LLC v. State Tax Comm'n , 297 S.W.3d 80, 83 (Mo. banc 2009) ); see also , e.g. , State ex rel. Robison v. Lindley-Myers , No. SC96719, 2018 WL 2927735, at *1 n.1 (Mo. banc June 12, 2018) ; U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs v. Boresi , 396 S.W.3d 356, 358 (Mo. banc 2013). In this case, the circuit court denied Naugles permanent relief based on its assessment of the merits of his claims, after issuing preliminary orders in mandamus to the respondents and receiving merits briefing. Naugles is accordingly entitled to appeal the circuit court’s judgment.2

561 S.W.3d 51

Where an appeal is appropriate, "this Court ‘reviews the denial of a petition for a writ of mandamus for an abuse of discretion.’ " Curtis , 548 S.W.3d at 914 (quoting Boresi , 396 S.W.3d at 359 ). "An abuse of discretion ‘occurs when the circuit court misapplies the applicable statutes.’ " Id. (quoting Boresi , 396 S.W.3d at 359 ). "[W]here ‘the foundation of the writ is based upon interpretation of a statute,’ our review of the statute’s meaning is de novo. " State ex rel. Washington Univ. v. Richardson , 396 S.W.3d 387, 391 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013) (citation omitted).

The primary goal of statutory interpretation is to give effect to legislative intent, which is most clearly evidenced by the plain text of the statute. The legislature is presumed to have intended every word, provision, sentence, and clause in a statute to be given effect. The plain and ordinary meaning of the words in a statute is determined from the words' usage in the context of the entire statute.

State ex rel. Goldsworthy v. Kanatzar , 543 S.W.3d 582, 585 (Mo. banc 2018) (citations omitted).

Analysis

I.

In his first Point, Naugles argues that the Commission has statutory authority to investigate his discrimination complaint because prisons are "places of public accommodation" within the meaning of the MHRA. We disagree.3

The MHRA created the Commission on Human Rights to "encourage fair treatment for and to foster mutual understanding and respect among, and to discourage discrimination against any racial, ethnic, religious or other group protected by this chapter, members of these groups or persons with disabilities." § 213.020.2. The Commission is authorized

[t]o receive, investigate, initiate, and pass upon complaints alleging discrimination in employment, housing or in places of public accommodations because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age as it relates to employment, disability, or familial status as it relates to housing and to require the production for examination of any books, papers, records, or other materials relating to any matter under investigation....

§ 213.030.1(7).

Section 213.065 prohibits discrimination in "places of public accommodations." It provides:

1. All persons within the jurisdiction of the state of Missouri are free and equal and shall be entitled to the full and equal use and enjoyment within this state of any place of public accommodation, as hereinafter defined, without discrimination or segregation because of
561 S.W.3d 52
race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, or disability.

2. It is an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from or deny any other person, or to attempt to refuse, withhold from or deny any other person, any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services, or privileges made available in any place of public accommodation, as defined in section 213.010 and this section, or to segregate or discriminate against any such person in the use thereof because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, or disability.

"Places of public accommodation" is defined in § 213.010(16) to mean:

all places or businesses offering or holding out to the general public, goods, services, privileges, facilities, advantages or accommodations for the peace, comfort, health, welfare and safety of the general public or such public places providing food, shelter, recreation and amusement, including, but not limited to:

....

(e) Any public facility owned, operated, or managed by or on behalf of this state or any agency or subdivision thereof, or any public corporation; and any such facility supported in whole or in part by public funds....

Although "places of public accommodation" is defined in § 213.010(16), § 213.065.3 recognizes an exception to the prohibition on discrimination in "places of public accommodation." Section 213.065.3 provides that the prohibition on public-accommodation discrimination

shall not apply to a private club, a place of accommodation owned by or operated on behalf of a religious corporation, association or society, or other establishment which is not in fact open to the public....

Missouri prisons plainly constitute "facilit[ies] ... operated ... by or on behalf of this state or any agency or subdivision thereof" within the meaning of §...

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5 practice notes
  • Letray v. N.Y.S. Div. of Human Rights, 134
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • March 20, 2020
    ...are "properly viewed as the antithesis of a ... ‘public accommodation’ " ( State ex rel. Naugles v. Missouri Commn. on Human Rights , 561 S.W.3d 48, 54 [Mo. Ct. App. 2018] ; see Skaff v. West Virginia Human Rights Commn. , 191 W. Va. 161, 163–164, 444 S.E.2d 39, 41–42 [1994] ; Blizzard v. F......
  • Mo. Landowners Alliance v. Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC, WD 81269
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • August 21, 2018
    ...action to grant permission to Grain Belt was readily apparent in the published minutes. The published minutes were sufficient to put a 561 S.W.3d 48reasonable person on notice that one or more Sunshine Law violations may have occurred, and a reasonable person would have undertaken to ascert......
  • McDonald v. Chamber of Commerce of Independence, WD 81938
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 21, 2019
    ...is a precondition to the filing of an MHRA claim in the circuit court." State ex rel. Naugles v. Mo. Comm'n on Human Rights, B.A. , 561 S.W.3d 48, 56 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018) (citing Farrow , 407 S.W.3d at 591 ). " ‘[W]ithout the right to sue letter, the claimant cannot bring a MHRA claim in ci......
  • State ex rel. Swoboda v. Mo. Comm'n On Human Rights, WD83556
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • January 12, 2021
    ...of discretion 'occurs when the circuit court misapplies the applicable statutes.'" State ex rel. Naugles v. Mo. Comm'n on Hum. Rts., 561 S.W.3d 48, 51 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018) (quoting Curtis v. Mo. Democratic Party, 548 S.W.3d 909, 914 (Mo. banc 2018)). "[W]here the foundation of the writ is b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Letray v. N.Y.S. Div. of Human Rights, 134
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • March 20, 2020
    ...are "properly viewed as the antithesis of a ... ‘public accommodation’ " ( State ex rel. Naugles v. Missouri Commn. on Human Rights , 561 S.W.3d 48, 54 [Mo. Ct. App. 2018] ; see Skaff v. West Virginia Human Rights Commn. , 191 W. Va. 161, 163–164, 444 S.E.2d 39, 41–42 [1994] ; Blizzard v. F......
  • Mo. Landowners Alliance v. Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC, WD 81269
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • August 21, 2018
    ...action to grant permission to Grain Belt was readily apparent in the published minutes. The published minutes were sufficient to put a 561 S.W.3d 48reasonable person on notice that one or more Sunshine Law violations may have occurred, and a reasonable person would have undertaken to ascert......
  • McDonald v. Chamber of Commerce of Independence, WD 81938
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 21, 2019
    ...is a precondition to the filing of an MHRA claim in the circuit court." State ex rel. Naugles v. Mo. Comm'n on Human Rights, B.A. , 561 S.W.3d 48, 56 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018) (citing Farrow , 407 S.W.3d at 591 ). " ‘[W]ithout the right to sue letter, the claimant cannot bring a MHRA claim in ci......
  • State ex rel. Swoboda v. Mo. Comm'n On Human Rights, WD83556
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • January 12, 2021
    ...of discretion 'occurs when the circuit court misapplies the applicable statutes.'" State ex rel. Naugles v. Mo. Comm'n on Hum. Rts., 561 S.W.3d 48, 51 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018) (quoting Curtis v. Mo. Democratic Party, 548 S.W.3d 909, 914 (Mo. banc 2018)). "[W]here the foundation of the writ is b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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