Property Law

Editor:
Paul F. Sherman, Esquire

Insufficient proof of damages incurred due to Defendant's failure to pay condo assessments, fees and costs results in reversal and remand. The Manors at Village Green Condominium, Inc. v. Webb, No. 95067 (Mo. App. E.D., April 26, 2011), Sullivan, P.J.

Webb owns a condo unit in The Manors, located in St. Louis County.  The Manors Association (Plaintiff) sets and levies assessments to maintain the complex.  On July 31, 2009 Plaintiff filed suit to collect from Defendant for unpaid assessments, late fees and costs.  Webb filed no answer and trial occurred May 5, 2010.  Webb had not paid since April 30, 2009.  Plaintiff's management is handled by AMC.  Webb admitted no payments made since May 2009.  The trial court awarded Plaintiff $6,575 for past assessments due, late fees and attorney fees.  Webb appeals, disputing the court's calculations and arguing they were not supported.  The court noted that Webb failed to affirmatively aver payment as a defense, however that doesn't excuse Plaintiff's duty to prove its damages.  AMC's predecessor Grier Group's failure to keep accurate records resulted in numbers that were "speculative at best."  Therefore, judgment reversed and remanded for the trial court to re-evaluate the appropriateness of damages with a new trial.

Beneficiary deed held invalid due to execution by non-owner pursuant to version of Section461.008 (8) RSMo., in effect at time of execution. Delcour,  personal  representative of the Estate of Jonathon Goodman v. Rakestraw, et al., No. 30538 (Mo. App. S.D., April 25, 2011), Scott, C.J.

This is a post-Pippin v. Pippin, 154 S.W.3d 376 (Mo.App. 2004) review of a 1998 beneficiary deed.  Missouri statute at Section 461.025.1 allows the non-probate transfer of property by deed to the beneficiary effective on death of the owner.  "Owner" was amended post-Pippin. Section 461.005(8), RSMo.  In 1998 Kenny Goodman was gifted 80 acres solely.  He and his wife Anita then recorded a beneficiary deed in favor of their two children effective on the death of the last to die of Kenny and Anita.  Kenny died intestate in 2001.  Anita survived, however, Anita was not the "owner" as defined by the statute.  To fail to follow the statute invalidates the deed.  The trial court found the beneficiary deed valid and determined Kenny's two children owned the 80 acres and Anita Goodman, now Rakestraw, appealed. 

While the statute has been amended post-Pippin, Pippin still controls and the deed does not follow the statute because by its terms the deed is ineffective until after the death of a non-owner. 

Held: Reversed and remanded.

The Missouri Bar Courts Bulletin, 11-Jun