Tag Archives: punitive damages

Curious Computation of Damages–Lane v. Newberry

Fifty grand for being locked-out of a small restaurant?  I don’t understand.  A business with curious profitability is at issue in Lane v. Newberry, 2014 WL 284536 (Mo. Ct. App. W.D.).

We’ve identified some facts in the landlord/appellant’s brief. We will proceed discussing this framing of the facts, understanding that there may be a difference between appellant’s position and the respondent’s views.

A commercial landlord changed the locks, claiming tenant being in breach (the claim of breach entitling the landlord to change the locks evidently being rejected by the trial court).  Evidently possession was restored a few days later.

According to landlord’s brief, the tenant received a judgment in $50,100 in connection with claims that the landlord had improperly interfered with possession.  Landlord claims, it appears, access was prevented for a few days, and that the interruption occasioned a few hundred dollars in damage to the premises (such as locks and an alarm).

It would seem it would be a very profitable business that would account for such large damages.  What is it?  Evidently a 670 square foot establishment, known as The Dam Bar-N-Grill.  Must be “dam” profitable.

More after the break ….

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Potential MMPA Claim Against a Public Corporation — Dunn v. Board of Curators

Though justice is supposed to be blind, perhaps it requires particular efforts to take up the charge against those the legislature has termed “heroes”.  We shall see if those in that camp are up to it.

Here we have a discussion of an interesting issue of whether the MMPA extends to–whether the defined term “person” includes–a particular “public corporation” (see State v. Long, 213 S.W. 436 (Mo. 1919) (“We judicially notice, however, that the corporation by which the University of Missouri is controlled is styled “the curators of the University of Missouri.” We notice this because such corporation is a public one, created by a public statute (section 11097, R. S. 1909), of which, and of all such statutes, we are required to take judicial notice.”).

The brief notes:

Plaintiffs have alleged that Defendants violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (“MMPA”) by misrepresenting the meaning and purpose of the Missouri Heroes’ Act by misapplying Plaintiffs’ money and “gift aid” funds.

Something of an awkward circumstance, to be sure.

The brief, in the case styled Dunn v. Board of Curators of University of Missouri, available at 2013 WL 3191817 (Mo.App. E.D.), also raises interesting issues of sovereign immunity.  A recent Pennsylvania case, Meyer v. Community College of Beaver County, 30 A.3d 587 (Commonwealth Ct. of Pa. 2011), appeal granted in part by Meyer v. Community College of Beaver County, 51 A.3d 177 (Pa. 2012), also examines whether a state consumer protection claim sounds in tort or contract.  Here’s part of what it had to say:

Moreover, we conclude that these averments sound in contract rather than tort. Clearly, the averments relate to the sale of educational services. Under these averments, the protection of bargained-for expectations is implicated.

Further, Plaintiffs brought an action under Section 9.2 of the CPL. As discussed elsewhere, such an action may be brought by a person “who purchases or leases goods or services primarily for personal, family or household purposes and thereby suffers any ascertainable loss….” 73 P.S. § 201–9.2. Thus, an action under Section 9.2 of the CPL must be transaction based. For this additional reason, we conclude Plaintiffs’ action under the CPL sounds in contract.

30 A.3d at at 599.  Of course, the MMPA allows enhanced remedies, including punitive damages.  A facile way to distinguish contract and tort is to focus on the availability of something beyond expectation damages.  But not so fast.

More after the break …

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