Wright v. Martin, No. 13404

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation674 S.W.2d 238
Decision Date09 July 1984
Docket NumberNo. 13404
PartiesMarie WRIGHT and Adelbert Wright, Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. Ethel M. MARTIN, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 238

674 S.W.2d 238
Marie WRIGHT and Adelbert Wright, Plaintiffs-Respondents,
v.
Ethel M. MARTIN, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 13404.
Missouri Court of Appeals,
Southern District,
Division Two.
July 9, 1984.
Motion for Rehearing Overruled and to
Transfer to Supreme Court Denied
July 31, 1984.
Application to Transfer Denied
Sept. 11, 1984.

Page 240

Joseph A. Bohrer, Yates, Mauck, Robinett & Bohrer, Inc., Springfield, for plaintiffs-respondents.

Richard D. Crites, Springfield, for defendant-appellant.

PER CURIAM.

Plaintiffs sought to quiet title to a farm in Greene County claiming that they had record title and actual title and that defendant claimed an interest in the farm "without merit or legal validity".

Defendant answered and counterclaimed in three counts. She contended in Count One that she had title to the property because of adverse possession. In Count Two she contended that she had inherited an undivided one-half interest in the property from her deceased husband. She asserted in Count Three that while he was married to defendant her husband had "allegedly conveyed said real estate" but she had not joined in the deed and it was "in fraud of Defendant's marital rights." In that count she sought "to recover said real estate from Plaintiffs and to apply the same in payment of Defendant's share of the estate" of her deceased husband.

The trial court sustained plaintiffs' motion for judgment on the pleadings as to Count Three and defendant later dismissed Count Two without prejudice. Plaintiffs' claim and Count One of the counterclaim were submitted to a jury.

The jury rendered a verdict in favor of plaintiffs using the verdict form given it regarding plaintiffs' claim. It did not complete the form of verdict given it for Count One of defendant's counterclaim. After the verdict was received the trial judge inquired, "Is there anything further before I discharge the jury?" Counsel for both parties replied, "No." The judge discharged the jury and thereafter entered "judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs and against Defendant, in accordance with the verdict of the jury."

As her first point, defendant asserts that the trial court erred in not requiring the jury to return a verdict upon her counterclaim and by entering a "partial Judgment". She contends that the finding for plaintiffs on their claim did not necessarily carry with it a finding against her counterclaim and therefore there was no final appealable judgment. She says we should remand the case with directions that she receive a new trial upon her counterclaim.

Whether the trial judge should have sent the jury back to complete the verdict form on the counterclaim we do not decide as no request was made that he do so. He gave the parties an opportunity to make that request.

The parties agree that in order for a judgment to be final and appealable it must dispose of all parties and issues in the cause and if a counterclaim is pleaded and submitted a finding must be made disposing of the counterclaim. See Todd v. St. Ann's School Music Service, Inc., 585 S.W.2d 522, 524 (Mo.App.1979); Baumstark v. Jordan, 540 S.W.2d 611, 612 (Mo.App.1976).

It is likewise agreed that an exception to this general rule occurs when the finding for a plaintiff necessarily carries with it a finding against the defendant on the defendant's counterclaim. See Reynolds v. Briarwood Development Co., 662 S.W.2d 905, 906 (Mo.App.1983); Todd, supra, 585 S.W.2d at 524; Baumstark, supra, 540 S.W.2d at 612. See also Moore v. Luna, 626 S.W.2d 417, 418 (Mo.App.1981).

The question to be resolved here is "if a review of the whole record irresistibly compels the conclusion that the fact finder did consider and determine the issues presented by the counterclaim." Todd, supra, 585 S.W.2d at 524-525.

We conclude that the jury necessarily considered and denied defendant's counterclaim. The ultimate question presented to the jury was who had actual title to the farm. As the jury determined that plaintiffs

Page 241

did, they necessarily had to rule that defendant had not proved her claim of adverse possession.

Defendant contends that the jury may have only determined that plaintiffs had record title and did not consider defendant's claim of adverse possession. That was not what plaintiffs sought in their petition, they sought to quiet title against defendant. Plaintiffs' claim was based upon receiving actual title through valid documents which also showed record title. In defendant's count of her counterclaim which was submitted to the jury, she claimed title only through adverse possession. The jury verdict for plaintiffs establishes that the jurors found actual title in plaintiffs. If the jury was misled or confused as to what they were to do and decide regarding plaintiffs' claim that would have to have been caused by instructional or other error not pointed out to us.

Plaintiffs' submission instruction, Instruction Number 5, told the jury to find for plaintiffs if the jury believed certain matters "Unless you believe that plaintiffs are not entitled to recover by reason of Instruction Number 6." Instruction Number 5 is set out below. 1 Instruction Number 6 was tendered by defendant as both an affirmative defense and counterclaim submission instruction. It is set out below. 2 If there was any doubt that the jury had to consider whether the counterclaim was valid in order to find for plaintiffs the manner in which the jury was instructed sets that to rest.

If the jury understood the dispute and followed the instructions, as we must presume they did, they could not have found for plaintiffs without finding against defendant on her counterclaim. Point one is denied.

The second point states that the trial court erred in giving plaintiffs' instruction defining "open and notorious" rather than an instruction tendered by defendant defining "open and notorious possession". This point is premised on the contention that defendant's proposed instruction was correct and should have been given rather than plaintiffs' definition instruction. Defendant's proposed instruction was as follows:

"The phrase 'open and notorious possession' means possession opposed and antagonistic to the claims of all others and the...

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20 practice notes
  • Ethridge v. Tierone Bank, No. 27016 (MO 5/11/2006), No. 27016.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • May 11, 2006
    ...land under general conveyance to him alone cannot convey title in fee without his wife joining in the deed); see also Wright v. Martin, 674 S.W.2d 238, 243 (Mo. App. 1984); § 474.150.2 RSMo (2000) (providing that any real estate conveyance made at any time by a married person without the jo......
  • Huff Equipment Co. v. Jones, No. 14070
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • February 13, 1987
    ...under that point. "Ordinarily, a point of error unsupported by a citation of relevant authority is deemed abandoned." Wright v. Martin, 674 S.W.2d 238, 242 (Mo.App.1984). The point is not so novel that relevant authority would not be available. The point must be considered abandoned. The ju......
  • Keith v. Burlington Northern R. Co., Nos. 18959
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • November 17, 1994
    ...presents nothing for appellate review because overruling a motion in limine cannot, by itself, be reversible error. Wright v. Martin, 674 S.W.2d 238, 242 (Mo.App.1984). Because the ruling on a motion in limine is interlocutory in nature, "[i]t is a timely objection at the trial to the profe......
  • P.L.K. v. D.R.K., No. 61844
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 30, 1993
    ...55.03. However, because Mother only cites authority for her point about sanctions, she has waived her former argument. Wright v. Martin, 674 S.W.2d 238, 242 (Mo.App.1984); and Rule 84.04(d). Mother also raises for the first time a separate issue in her reply brief concerning the jurisdictio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Ethridge v. Tierone Bank, No. 27016 (MO 5/11/2006), No. 27016.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • May 11, 2006
    ...land under general conveyance to him alone cannot convey title in fee without his wife joining in the deed); see also Wright v. Martin, 674 S.W.2d 238, 243 (Mo. App. 1984); § 474.150.2 RSMo (2000) (providing that any real estate conveyance made at any time by a married person without the jo......
  • Huff Equipment Co. v. Jones, No. 14070
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • February 13, 1987
    ...under that point. "Ordinarily, a point of error unsupported by a citation of relevant authority is deemed abandoned." Wright v. Martin, 674 S.W.2d 238, 242 (Mo.App.1984). The point is not so novel that relevant authority would not be available. The point must be considered abandoned. The ju......
  • Keith v. Burlington Northern R. Co., Nos. 18959
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • November 17, 1994
    ...presents nothing for appellate review because overruling a motion in limine cannot, by itself, be reversible error. Wright v. Martin, 674 S.W.2d 238, 242 (Mo.App.1984). Because the ruling on a motion in limine is interlocutory in nature, "[i]t is a timely objection at the trial to the profe......
  • P.L.K. v. D.R.K., No. 61844
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 30, 1993
    ...55.03. However, because Mother only cites authority for her point about sanctions, she has waived her former argument. Wright v. Martin, 674 S.W.2d 238, 242 (Mo.App.1984); and Rule 84.04(d). Mother also raises for the first time a separate issue in her reply brief concerning the jurisdictio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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