Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Know when and how to give MAI 18.01 when authority to make a contract is at issue

Agri Process Innovations, Inc. v. Envirotrol, Inc., 338 S.W.3d 381, 388 (Mo. App. 2011):

Missouri Approved Instruction 18.01 provides that, when agency is in issue, the verdict director shall be modified to submit to the jury the question of whether the agent acted within the "scope and course of his [agency]." Though the example given by MAI 18.01 relates to a negligence case, the instruction also applies to a breach of contract case when agency is in issue. Rice, 116 S.W.3d at 609-10. Further, when agency is at issue, "scope and course of agency" shall be defined. Id.; see also MAI 13.07 (relating to apparent authority). Defining "scope and course of agency" is not all that the trial court must do: it must also actually submit the agency question in a verdict director, Galemore, 513 S.W.2d at 167-68; i.e., it must require the jury to find that the alleged agent acted within the scope and course of his agency. Accordingly, in this case, (1) the verdict director should have been modified to submit the issue of whether Hoover acted within the scope and course of his agency with Envirotrol; and (2) the term "scope and course of agency" should have been specifically defined. See Rice, 116 S.W.3d at 609-10; Galemore,513 S.W.2d at 167-68; MAI 18.01; MAI 13.07(1) & (2).
Here, the jury instructions met one of these requirements but not both. The term "scope and course of agency" was defined in a separate instruction, but the question of whether Hoover acted within the scope and course of his alleged agency with Envirotrol was not actually submitted to the jury in the verdict director. Defining a necessary term does not constitute submission of a necessary issue, Galemore, 513 S.W.2d at 167-68; and, as explained above, Missouri law requires both.

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