☰ Revisor of Missouri


Chapter 536

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  536.050.  Declaratory judgments respecting the validity of rules — fees and expenses — standing, intervention by general assembly. — 1.  The power of the courts of this state to render declaratory judgments shall extend to declaratory judgments respecting the validity of rules, or of threatened applications thereof, and such suits may be maintained against agencies whether or not the plaintiff has first requested the agency to pass upon the question presented.  The venue of such suits against agencies shall, at the option of the plaintiff, be in the circuit court of Cole County, or in the county of the plaintiff's residence, or if the plaintiff is a corporation, domestic or foreign, having a registered office or business office in this state, in the county of such registered office or business office.  Nothing herein contained shall be construed as a limitation on the declaratory or other relief which the courts might grant in the absence of this section.

  2.  Any person bringing an action under subsection 1 of this section shall not be required to exhaust any administrative remedy if the court determines that:

  (1)  The administrative agency has no authority to grant the relief sought or the administrative remedy is otherwise inadequate; or

  (2)  The only issue presented for adjudication is a constitutional issue or other question of law; or

  (3)  Requiring the person to exhaust any administrative remedy would result in undue prejudice because the person may suffer irreparable harm if unable to secure immediate judicial consideration of the claim.  Provided, however, that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any matter covered by chapters 288, 302, and 303; or

  (4)  The party bringing the action is a small business claiming a material violation of section 536.300 or 536.303 by the state agency requiring the small business impact statement for the amendment or rule.

  3.  A nonstate party who prevails in an action brought pursuant to subsection 1 of this section shall be awarded reasonable fees and expenses, as defined in section 536.085, incurred by that party in the action.

  4.  A nonstate party seeking an award of fees and other expenses shall, within thirty days of a final disposition of an action brought pursuant to subsection 1 of this section, submit to the court which rendered the final disposition or judgment an application which shows that the party is a prevailing party and is eligible to receive an award pursuant to this section, and the amount sought, including an itemized statement from any attorney or expert witness representing or appearing in behalf of the party stating the actual time expended and the rate at which fees and other expenses are computed.

  5.  A prevailing nonstate party in an agency proceeding shall submit an application for fees and expenses to the court before which the party prevailed.  The filing of an application shall not stay the time for appealing the merits of a case.  When the state appeals the underlying merits of an adversary proceeding, no decision on the application for fees and other expenses in connection with that adversary proceeding shall be made pursuant to this section until a final and unreviewable decision is rendered by the court on the appeal or until the underlying merits of the case have been finally determined pursuant to the appeal.

  6.  The court may either reduce the amount to be awarded or deny any award, to the extent that the prevailing nonstate party during the course of the proceedings engaged in conduct which unduly and unreasonably protracted the final resolution of the matter in controversy.

  7.  The decision of a court on the application for reasonable fees and expenses shall be in writing, separate from the judgment or order of the court which determined the prevailing party, and shall include written findings and conclusions and the reason or basis therefor.  The decision of a court on the application for fees and other expenses shall be final, subject respectively to appeal or judicial review.

  8.  If a party or the state is dissatisfied with a determination of fees and other expenses made in an action brought pursuant to subsection 1 of this section, that party or the state may, within the time permitted by law, appeal that order or judgment to the appellate court having jurisdiction to review the merits of that order or judgment.  The appellate court's determination shall be based solely on the record made before the court below.  The court may modify, reverse or reverse and remand the determination of fees and other expenses if the court finds that the award or failure to make an award of fees and other expenses, or the calculation of the amount of the award, was arbitrary and capricious, was unreasonable, was unsupported by competent and substantial evidence, or was made contrary to law or in excess of the court's jurisdiction.  Awards made pursuant to this section shall be payable from amounts appropriated therefor.  The state agency against which the award was made shall request an appropriation to pay for the award.

  9.  The general assembly or its designee shall have standing, in law or equity, to intervene in any existing action involving such challenge to agency action.  Unless otherwise provided by resolution, the general assembly's designee is the joint committee on administrative rules who may, upon a concurrence of a majority of the committee's members, intervene in the name of the members of the committee in their representative capacity.  Nothing in this section shall confer upon the committee any duty to so act or intervene.


(L. 1945 p. 1504 § 5, A.L. 1978 S.B. 661, A.L. 1996 S.B. 720, A.L. 1997 H.B. 850, A.L. 2005 H.B. 576)

(1982) Statutory provisions which purport to authorize the Administrative Hearing Commission to render declaratory judgments are unconstitutional as violative of Section 1, Article V of the Missouri Constitution. State Tax Commission v. Administrative Hearing Commission (Mo.banc), 641 S.W.2d 69.

(1993) Where action is based on specific facts involving named entities and is a challenge to an agency decision, jurisdiction to challenged decision is vested in the administrative hearing commission under section 208.156, RSMo.  Because action challenged an agency decision and not an agency rule, this section does not allow a declaratory judgment action to be brought in the circuit court.  Missouri Health Care Association, EBG III, Inc. v. Missouri Department of Social Services, 851 S.W.2d 567 (Mo. App. W.D.).

---- end of effective  28 Aug 2005 ----

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