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Home / Opinions / Courts / Missouri Supreme Court / Missouri Supreme Court Digest: Aug. 15, 2022

Missouri Supreme Court Digest: Aug. 15, 2022

Administrative Law

Tax Exemption

Solar Energy System

The county and its tax assessor appealed from the circuit court’s judgment finding defendant’s solar energy system to be tax exempt. After the county assessed property taxes on defendant’s solar energy system, defendant appealed to the state tax commission arguing that its system was exempt under the provision for solar energy systems not held for resale. The commission approved the exemption, and the county and assessor appealed to the circuit court, challenging the constitutionality of the statutory tax exemption. The circuit court granted judgment for defendant, upholding the constitutionality of the exemption and ruling that the assessor lacked authority to declare the statute unconstitutional.

Where solar energy systems did not fall within any of the express categories of property listed in the Missouri Constitution that the legislature could enact tax exemptions for, the statutory exemption for solar energy systems was unconstitutional.

Judgment is vacated and remanded.

Johnson v. Springfield Solar 1, LLC (MLW No. 78759/Case No. SC99441 – 8 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Russell, J.) Appealed from circuit court, Greene County, Cordonnier, J. (Aaron M. Klusmeyer and N. Austin Fax, Springfield, for appellant) (Zachary R. McMichael, St. Louis, for appellee)

https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=188454

 

Employer-Employee

Discrimination

Writ of Mandamus

The Missouri Commission on Human Rights and a law firm appealed from the circuit court’s issuance of a permanent writ of mandamus in favor of claimant, who was seeking a right-to-sue letter to pursue discrimination and retaliation claims against his employer and against the law firm. Claimant alleged that his employer retaliated against him after he opposed the discrimination of a co-worker and that the law firm, the employer’s counsel, aided and abetted by telling him to think about his career. The commission concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over the law firm because there was no employer-employee relationship between claimant and the law firm. Claimant filed a writ of mandamus to compel the commission to issue a right-to-sue letter against the law firm.

Where claimant failed to establish a clear, unequivocal, specific right to proceed with discrimination and retaliation claims against his employer’s law firm because there was no established precedent on whether an employer-employee relationship was a predicate for pursuing such claims, the circuit court erred in granting claimant mandamus relief.

Wilson, J, dissenting: “e. Article V, section 18 of the Missouri Constitution charges the legislature, primarily, and this Court, secondarily, with the responsibility for establishing the manner and means of vindicating this right. The legislature has done its part, enacting sections 536.1001 and 536.150 and related provisions, but this Court increasingly is failing to uphold its constitutional obligation to do the same. Relying on inapplicable precedent and ignoring the plain language of article V, section 18 and section 536.150, the principal opinion in this case significantly changes the law and weakens this constitutional and statutory right to judicial review of administrative decisions in noncontested cases.”

Judgment is reversed and remanded.

State ex rel. Swoboda v. Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MLW No. 78758/Case No. SC99000 – 46 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Russell, J.) Appealed from circuit court, Jackson County, Round, J. (Jeffery McPherson, Daniel K. O’Toole, Paul L. Brusati and Daniel R. O’Brien, St. Louis, Alexander Edelman, Kansas City, Kirk D. Holman and Aiman A. Dvorak, Kansas City, for appellees)

https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=188453