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blood draw.jpgMissouri House Bill 1695, which allows the police to draw blood from a driver suspected of driving under the influence, has moved one step closer to law after passing in the House. The bill states that any person operating a motor vehicle is deemed to consent to the testing of his breath, blood, urine or saliva for purposes of determining if he is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

House Bill 1695 makes many changes to DWI laws in Missouri. The bill proposes tougher penalties for drivers driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more. The bill also addresses communication between various police agencies, so that different agencies can be made aware of DUIs a person has received in other jurisdictions.

Missouri Senate Bill 880 is currently working its way through the Senate, and has many of the same provisions.

gavel.jpgIn Hightower v. Myers, No. 89951 (Mo. banc March 9, 2010), the Missouri Supreme Court considered issues relating to subject matter jurisdiction in a Missouri child custody case that spanned 3 states. The father lived in Missouri, the mother, who had custody of the child, in New Jersey. Over time, the mother had moved within New Jersey several times without proper notification to the father. She then intended to move to Georgia, and did so. The father filed for custody of the child in Missouri. In 2007, the trial court granted the transfer of custody to the father and ordered the mother to pay child support. The mother appealed, arguing that the Missouri court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. She also argued that there was not a continuous and substantial change in circumstances that warranted the transfer of custody.

The Missouri Supreme Court held that the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, which sets forth 4 circumstances where a court has the jurisdiction to hear a child custody case, is not a matter of subject matter jurisdiction, and can be waived. Subject matter jurisdiction can never be waived and can be raised at any time. Subject matter jurisdiction is vested in Missouri courts by the Missouri Constitution, not by statute, and because this was a civil case, the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction. Mother did not argue lack of jurisdiction under the UCCJA, so therefore, she waived it. The court further found that because the mother had moved without notification to the father, had moved to Georgia, and had not allowed the father to have proper visitation he was entitled to, the transfer of custody was warranted.

UniversityHospital4.jpgThe Missouri Court of Appeals held in a medical malpractice case that the Curators of the University of Missouri did not waive sovereign immunity by purchasing liability insurance.

In Hendricks v. Curators of the University of Missouri, No. WD70398 (April 27, 2010), the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, holding that it was entitled to sovereign immunity under Section 537.600 RSMo. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the defendant had waived sovereign immunity by purchasing liability insurance. Section 537.610.1 RSMo, states that a sovereign body may waive immunity by purchasing liability insurance.

The Missouri Court of Appeals held that an express provision in the insurance policy stating that the University of Missouri was not waiving sovereign immunity was valid. This was in line with previous decisions, including State ex rel. Board of Trustees of City of North Kansas City Memorial Hospital v. Russell, 843 S.W.2d 353 (Mo. banc 1992), and Langley v. Curators of the Univ. of Mo., 73 S.W.3d 808, 811 (Mo. App. W.D. 2002).