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Podhorn v. Paragon Group, Inc.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
606 F. Supp. 185 (D. Mo. 1985)


Facts

The Podhorns (plaintiffs) were tenants at an apartment building owned by Paragon Group, Inc. (defendant). Paragon Group Inc. (Paragon) filed a petition in circuit court for late rent from the Podhorns. The Podhorns did not file a counterclaim. The circuit court entered a default judgment against the Podhorns. The Podhorns then brought this suit in federal court against Paragon alleging constructive eviction, breach of implied warranty of habitability, and several other theories of liability. Paragon moved to dismiss the Podhorns’ claims, arguing that the claims were barred as compulsory counterclaims that should have been filed in the earlier law suit. The Podhorns argued that the associate circuit judge did not have jurisdiction to hear their counterclaim because the amount of the Podhorns’ claims was more than the sum an associate circuit judge has authority to hear. The federal court held that even if the Podhorns’ claim was not triable by the associate circuit judge in the earlier suit, the Podhorns were still required by statute to file the claims at that time. The claims would have then been assigned to a judge with jurisdiction to hear them. The Podhorns’ claims were barred for their failure to file them as compulsory counterclaims in the circuit court. Paragon’s motion to dismiss was granted.

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Holding and Reasoning (Hungate, J.)

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