Legal Memorandum: Modification of an Interlocutory Order in MO

Issue: Does a court have the authority to correct its own errors before making a final Judgment in Missouri?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Interlocutory order; Final judgment; Control of court
Jurisdiction: Missouri
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2013

State ex rel Schweitzer v. Greene 438 S.W. 2d 229, 232 (Mo. 1969).  “[A]n interlocutory order is always under the control of the court making it. At any time before final judgment a court may open, amend, reverse or vacate an interlocutory order.”  Id. (internal punctuation and citations omitted).  The rationale is simply that “[l]ogic and justice … indicate that a trial court should be permitted to retain control of every phase of a case so that it may correct errors, or, in its discretion, modify or set aside orders or judgments until its jurisdiction is extinguished by the judgment becoming final and appealable.”  Id.  

Thus, “Missouri does not follow the doctrine that a motion once ruled on cannot be reconsidered. To do so would mean that a trial court could never correct what it ultimately concludes to have been a mistaken judgment even when its jurisdiction over the case remains intact.”  Around the World Importing Inc. v. Mercantile Trust Co. N.A. 795 S.W.3d 85, 88 (Mo. App. E.D. 1990) (internal citation omitted).  In fact a refusal to modify or set aside an order in the face of an obvious error may constitute an abuse of discretion.  See Harris v. Munoz 6 SW3d 398, 402 (Mo. App. W.D. 1999).


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