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McDowell v. Schuette

Missouri Court of Appeals
610 S.W.2d 29 (1980)


Facts

David and Donna McDowell (plaintiffs) sued to recover the full amount owed for building the Schuettes' (defendants) house. The Schuettes filed a counterclaim alleging the house's construction was defective. At trial, expert witnesses disagreed as to the alleged defects. The judge arranged for the jurors to be driven to the house by van so they could better evaluate the conflicting testimony. The judge instructed the jurors not to discuss the house during the jury view, either among themselves or with the van's driver. The judge prohibited the court reporter and the parties' lawyers from accompanying the jurors. After the jury returned a verdict for the McDowells, the Schuettes' lawyer learned the McDowells owned the van and it was driven by one of their employees. The lawyer characterized this as an impropriety, but presented no evidence that the jurors discussed the house with the driver or knew who owned the van. The judge denied the lawyer's motion for a new trial and the Schuettes appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals. The Schuettes argued the jury view constituted evidence that the court reporter could not record and to which the lawyers could not object.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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