The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, will hear oral arguments Wednesday in Columbia in Jennifer Henderson’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the Business Loop Community Improvement District’s 2015 sales tax election.
The case, which Henderson filed in 2016, has been slow to make it through the court system, in part because Boone County Circuit Judge Jodie Asel refused to file a summary judgment until almost three years after dismissing Henderson’s suit without prejudice. She finally did so in February 2019 after the Missouri Supreme Court ordered her to do so.
Once Asel filed her judgment rejecting Henderson’s claims, Henderson appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.
Henderson garnered national attention in 2015 after the community improvement district’s board tried to draw boundaries excluding any residents. It later learned that Henderson lived within the boundaries, and for a time, it appeared she would be in power to decide, as the district’s only resident, the fate of the board’s proposed half-cent sales tax.
At the time, Henderson was a sophomore at MU studying health sciences who was living at MU Health Care’s Wyatt Guest House. She opposed the tax, so the board opted not to have an election. When a KBIA reporter later discovered there were actually 15 registered voters who lived within the district’s boundaries, the board went ahead with the election. Voters passed the sales tax on a 4-3 vote.
Henderson later sued, saying the election lacked a secret ballot and other proper procedures and that its results should be voided.
If Henderson wins her case, the CID would be required to give the state all the money it has collected from its sales tax since April 1, 2016, her attorney, Richard Reuben, said. From fiscal years 2016 through 2019, the tax had generated a little over $1 million.
Henderson’s case, which is one of four that will be heard at the Boone County Courthouse beginning at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, will be heard by three judges. Judge Edward Ardini Jr. will preside, and Judges Mark Pfeiffer and Cynthia Martin will also hear arguments.
The other three cases that will be heard Wednesday are Stephen C. Wynn v. BNSF Railway Co., Heather Rosales v. Benjamin Equestrian Center and State of Missouri v. Jerrill A. Green.
The judges will issue no rulings Wednesday.
After it hears arguments, the court will take time to discuss the court system with the audience, explain the proceedings and take questions, according to a news release.