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Schoor v. Wilson - 731 S.W.2d 308 (Mo. Ct. App. 1987)

Rule:

Whether a person has reasonable cause to apprehend that he is in danger is to be resolved upon the facts and circumstances as they appeared to the defendant at the time he committed his acts of self-defense.

Facts:

Plaintiff Shirley M. Schoor had been employed by Chuck Boyles, Inc. working in various aspects of publishing and distributing a real estate advertising magazine. In June 1981, her employment was terminated and she started her own magazine, named "Town and Country Living," in direct competition with Chuck Boyles, Inc. In Dec. 1981, Schoor was found to be in violation of a non-compete contract she had entered into with Chuck Boyles, Inc., and was enjoined from going onto the premises of certain real estate companies, including Gas Light Real Estate. In Feb. 1982, Schoor sold her business to Richard Miles. She was held in contempt by the court after it found out that RIchard Miles was Schoor's alter ego and was continuing to compete with Chuck Boyles, Inc. On March 24, 1982, Schoor accompanied Richard Miles to Gaslight Realty. She stayed in the car. defendant Philip Wilson, an employee of Chuck Boyles, Inc., was distributing magazines in the area of Gas Light Realty when he saw Schoor's car parked in the adjoining parking lot. Aware of who Schoor was and the case in court, he approached the car and began taking pictures for possible use in further contempt proceedings. The incident turned into an altercation. Schoor grabbed the camera and its strap and would not let go until Wilson hit and kicked her. Schoor filed a lawsuit against Wilson in Missouri state court for assault; Wilson filed a counterclaim for assault and malicious prosecution. A jury rendered a verdict against Schoor and in favor of Wilson. The jury awarded Wilson $1,000 actual and $3,500 punitive damages for the assault claim. On the malicious prosecution claim, the jury awarded Wilson $100 actual and $5,000 punitive damages. Schoor filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a new trial, which was denied by the court. Schoor appealed.

Issue:

Was Schoor entitled to a new trial in her assault case?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The appellate court affirmed the lower court's decision on Schoor's claim for assault. The court rejected Schoor's claims that, among other things, there was insufficient evidence: (1) to establish an offensive contact; (2) that Wilson sustained any damage, and; (3) to submit Wilson's punitive damage claim to the jury. However, the judgment of the trial court on Wilson's claim for assault was reversed and remanded with directions that the judgment be entered in favor of Wilson for $1.00 actual and $3500 punitive damages. The judgment of the trial court on Wilson's claim for malicious prosecution was reversed and remanded for a new trial.

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