The next friend, guardian ad litem or guardian or conservator shall have the power and authority, subject to the approval of the court, to waive a jury and submit all issues in such action or proposed settlement to the court for determination. Mo. Rev. Stat. §507.184; Missouri Supreme Court Rule 52.02(a). The court shall have the power and authority to hear evidence on and either approve or disapprove a proposed contract to settle an action or claim of a minor, to authorize and order the next friend, guardian ad litem or guardian or conservator to execute and sign a release or satisfaction and discharge of judgment, and shall also have the power and authority to approve a fee contract between the next friend, guardian ad litem or guardian or conservator and an attorney and to order him to pay an attorney fee and to pay the expenses which have been reasonably incurred in connection with the preparation and prosecution of the action or claim and including the cost of any bonds required herein. Mo. Rev. Stat. §507.184(3).
Minors are to be considered “wards of the court and their rights are to be jealously guarded as provided by statute.” Y.W. By and Through Smith v. National Super Markets, Inc., 876 S.W.2d 785, 787 (Mo. Ct. App. 1994). Failure to follow the statutory requirements of a minor settlement will render even a parent’s release on the minor’s behalf unenforceable. Id. These statutory requirements are set out by Missouri Supreme Court Rule 52.02.
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