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Missouri Court Records

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Contract Disputes and Property Disputes in Missouri

In Missouri, a contract is generated when individuals or entities exchange products or services of value. The contract is simply the legally enforceable agreement between these parties. This agreement could be oral or written; however, Missouri law requires that most contracts be in writing because verbal agreements may be difficult to enforce in court. When a contract is legally binding and valid, it can prevent misunderstanding between the parties. This is because a valid contract will clearly and concisely define the rights and duties of each party. However, when they disagree on the terms and conditions, then a contract dispute has occurred.

Similar to contract disputes, property disputes constitute a lack of agreement between individuals or entities. However, in this case, the discord is usually related to real property such as lands, houses, etc. Depending on the value of what is in dispute, contract and property disputes are litigated in Missouri Small Claims Court or Missouri Circuit court of the State Judiciary.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are Contract Disputes in Missouri?

A contract dispute is a situation that can be costly or disruptive to a lucrative business operation. It occurs when a party in an agreement fails to adhere to their contractual commitment as earlier agreed. Typically, a contract that is well written and obeyed creates a long-lasting and easy business relationship. However, most contract disputes in Missouri result from poorly constructed contracts or refusal to perform the terms and conditions stated therein.

Most contract disputes arise from agreements such as:

  • Sales contracts and purchase agreements
  • Residential or commercial leases
  • Construction contracts
  • Real estate agreements, etc.

In Missouri, partners in an agreement or contract are advised to use the Choice of law clause, also known as a governing law clause. This law allows the parties to choose the substantive law of Missouri that will apply to the contract. Consequently, if the parties choose and review this law together, the Missouri courts will enforce the chosen law in the event of contract disputes. The choice of law clause influences the formation, interpretation, and enforcement of the contract. It largely ensures that parties adhere to their obligations, and if there is a breach, the non-breaching party receives the necessary remedies.

What are the Most Common Contract Disputes in Missouri

There are 2 major types of contract disputes in Missouri, and most contract disputes litigated in the states fall under these categories.

  • Disputes of a party’s failure to perform: These contract disputes arise when a party fails to fulfill their contractual obligations. These obligations are usually associated with a specific action. Examples include employment contracts such as non-compete clauses, non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements, faulty construction disputes, etc.
  • Disputes of a party’s failure to pay: These types of disputes generally involve purchase and sale in which one party has refused to pay for a product or service received. Examples include disputes concerning vendor contracts, sales commission contract disputes, lease disputes, evictions, etc.

What is Missouri Contract Law?

Legal contract creation, execution, and resolution in Missouri is governed by Missouri Common Law, Title XXVIII(28) of the Missouri Revised statutes, Missouri’s Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), and other state laws.

According to these laws, a valid contract must constitute the following:

  • Competent parties
  • Subject matter
  • Consideration
  • Mutuality of agreement and obligation.

Before a contract is drafted, the parties to the contract must be competent. They must be at least 18 years and mentally able to understand the terms and conditions of the contract. The agreement must also have a legal subject matter that does not violate any state or municipal laws.

Also, a legal Missouri contract requires each party to provide the other with a benefit of either performance of some service or money. This is called “consideration.” Consideration could also require a party to refrain from performing an action or exercising a right against another party in the agreement.

Additionally, although the state recognizes verbal and written contracts, some contracts must be written to be enforceable. Under the Uniform Commercial Code in Missouri, contracts for sales of goods worth $500 or more are not enforceable unless in written form and signed by all parties involved.

In the case of resolving contract disputes, the state contract laws provide that if the breach of contract claim is seeking a remedy of $5000 or less, it should be filed in the Small claims court. If the amount in dispute is above $5000 and up to $25000, it should be filed in the associate Circuit court, and others in the Circuit court.

What is a Breach of Contract in Missouri?

A breach of contract occurs when a party in a legal agreement has failed to perform their part of the contract. In Missouri, a breach of contract could be litigated in the state court where the court can enforce the contract. However, for this to happen, the breach of contract action must include the following elements:

  • The existence of a contract
  • Proof that plaintiff performed or tendered performance according to the contract;
  • Breach of the contract by the defendant
  • Proof of damages suffered by the plaintiff.

The judge presiding over the case must determine if a contract exists, what the contract required of each party, if the contract was modified at any time, if the claimed breach of contract occurred, and what damages were caused by the breach.

Besides, a breach of contract in Missouri could be minor or material. A material breach occurs if a party’s failure to perform causes the non-breaching party to receive something significantly different from what was promised in the contract. In contrast, a minor breach usually occurs when the non-breaching party still obtains the results stated in the agreement, despite the other party’s breach.

In a material breach in Missouri, the non-breaching party is relieved of all their contractual obligations. They also have the right to be awarded remedies for the losses or damages caused by the other party’s actions.

Missouri courts determine materiality by considering:

  • If the non-breaching party can be compensated for the losses
  • If the breaching party exhibited negligent or willful behavior
  • The breaching party’s extent of performance
  • The possibility that the breaching party will fulfill the rest of the contract.

If the court determines that a breach of contract occurred, it awards remedies to the non-breaching party that suffered losses and damages.

What are the Remedies for a Breach of Contract in Missouri?

The non-breaching party has the right to request to be awarded remedies after a breach of contract has been established. Depending on the materiality of the breach and other circumstances surrounding the case, the court may award monetary or compensatory damages, or punitive damages.

  • Compensatory damages provide the monetary amount or compensation supposed to cover the non-breaching party’s loss. This remedy could be general or special. General damages cover the direct loss and are the most common remedy awarded, especially in limited jurisdiction courts. Special damages or consequential damages cover the loss incurred under special or unpredictable circumstances. However, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the breaching party knew about the special circumstances.
  • Punitive damages: The court awards this remedy to make an example of a breaching party who acted fraudulently and intentionally. While compensatory damages are designed to cover the other party’s actual loss, punitive damages aim to punish a wrongdoer and deter others from the act. Usually, when the court decides on this remedy, it is awarded in addition to compensatory damages.

What Defenses Can Be Used Against a Breach of Contract Claim in Missouri?

Under Missouri Contract laws, when a party in an agreement has the responsibility to perform fails, they are legally allowed to defend their case. In Missouri, during the proceedings of a breach of contract claim, the defense could argue that;

  • Executing the obligations identified in the contract could constitute a violation of public policy
  • Performing the contractual obligation was impossible due to circumstances beyond their control
  • The contract was unfair and did not benefit both parties
  • The contract was fraudulent or illegal
  • The contract contained terms different than what was earlier agreed
  • The party lacked the capacity to contract
  • The non-breaching party had accepted the performance as adequate (accord and satisfaction)
  • The contract was not in writing as mandated by the Statute of Frauds
  • The contract was indefinite, and the essential terms and conditions were never agreed upon.
  • The defendant was fraudulently or forcefully induced to enter into the contract.

What are Property Disputes in Missouri?

In Missouri, property disputes are largely litigation matters that involve settling disagreements between property owners, tenants, property investors, etc. They involve a wide range of land ownership issues, purchase, and sale of property, boundary and property line disputes, leasing, farming, tree damages, etc. Although these cases can be resolved in the state court, there are alternative means of resolution that do not require expensive legal fees or court costs. They include mediation, arbitration, and negotiation. Through these means, the party’s in dispute could come up with their tailored resolution with a guide’s help.

Property disputes in Missouri are extensive; hence they are addressed by different statutes in the State codes. Notwithstanding, common disputes are addressed in Section 537 for tree damages, Section 272 for boundary and fencing laws, Section 442 for Titles and Conveyance of Real Estate, etc.

What Are Some Common Types of Property Disputes in Missouri?

Common types of property disputes in Missouri include but are not limited to:

  • Lease and rental disputes
  • Property divisions
  • Adverse possession
  • Tenants rights and eviction disputes
  • Trespassing
  • Property line and boundary disputes
  • Property ownership
  • Title issues and easement disputes
  • Obtaining a court order to proceed with development on a property
  • Recovering rent arrears from a commercial leaseholder
  • Errors and omissions in contracts and deeds between property owners and property developers
  • Foreclosure issues, remedies, and procedures
  • Land use and zoning disputes
  • Breach of contract problems

How to Find Property Lines

A property line marks the discontinuation of a piece of property. That is, it indicates where a property starts and ends. In Missouri, the disputes concerning property lines, fences, and boundaries are quite common. They are addressed in Missouri Code § 971 and Missouri Code § 272.

A property owner could determine the property line by examining the title plan or deed of the property. They may also use the Missouri County Plat books collection, managed by the Missouri State Library. This collection carries details of land ownership and property maps in the state from 1875–1930. For a more recent record of ownership and plat maps or parcels in the state, they may contact the local assessor’s office.


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How do I Find a Property Dispute Lawyer Near me?

Any individual or entity in the middle of a property dispute is advised to employ a property dispute lawyer or seek legal advice concerning the situation. This decision could help fight lawsuits, avoid them altogether and ensure legally transparent and foolproof transactions in the future. The state court system provides means of obtaining legal assistance to individuals or entities that require it.

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