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Initiative Petition No. 415, State Question No. 793, proposed to amend Article 20 of the Oklahoma Constitution by adding a new Section 3. The purpose of the amendment was to merge the rights and restrictions placed on optometrists and opticians, while eliminating restraints on the ability to practice their professions in retail mercantile establishments. A protest was filed contesting the validity of the initiative petition as unconstitutional logrolling in violation of the general subject requirement mandated in Okla. Const. art. 24, sec. 1. The sole issue presented for consideration, restated, was whether Initiative Petition No. 415, State Question No. 793, satisfied the single subject requirement of article 24, section 1, of the Oklahoma Constitution. The Oklahoma Supreme Court concluded that the proposed amendment embraced one general subject and therefore complied with article 24, section 1, of the Oklahoma Constitution. View "Oklahoma Assoc. of Optometric Physicians v. Raper" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Stacy Gaasch, as personal representative for the Estate of Troy Gaasch, filed suit against St. Paul File and Marine Insurance Company, alleging the insurance company failed to timely provide reasonable and necessary medical treatment as ordered by the Workers' Compensation Court. Troy required multiple surgeries over several years due to his work-related injury. Troy was hospitalized due to his work-related injury. He allegedly became malnourished with accompanying weight loss and different physicians recommended a nutritional consult. A nurse case manager recommended monthly a nutritional consult. Troy died during his hospitalization approximately six months after the initial recommendation for a nutritional consult. Prior to his work-related injury, Troy underwent a gastric bypass surgery and allegedly suffered from a malabsorption syndrome secondary to this surgery. A disagreement arose between insurer and Troy concerning whether the insurer was required to pay for a nutritional consult. Insurer claimed Troy's nutritional problems were created prior to his work-related injury and his nutritional state in the hospital was not due to the work-related injury. The company moved for summary judgment which was granted. Plaintiff appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held: (1) Plaintiff's district court action alleging breach of contract also included a request for damages resulting from the death of the workers' compensation claimant; (2) the district court action was based upon alleged delay by a workers' compensation insurer in providing medical care as previously awarded by the Worker's Compensation Court; and (3) the district court action against the workers' compensation insurer was precluded by an exclusive remedy provided by the Workers' Compensation Act. “Plaintiff attempts to go around this procedure we classified as a ‘jurisdictional requirement’ . . .by characterizing the claim as a breach of contract and an action for damages resulting from an alleged wrongful death. The clear public policy expressed in the amended version of Art. 23 sec. 7 requires available workers' compensation remedies for any type of wrongful death claim to be pursued in the Workers' Compensation Court when required by the workers' compensation statutes.” View "Gaasch v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Elizabeth Cates was a former patient of defendant-appellee Integris Health, Inc.’s medical facility and claimed defendant wrongfully billed her, and others like her, for services. She filed this action in state court, alleging state-law claims for breach of contract, violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act, and deceit. Defendant successfully moved to dismiss these claims on the ground that they were expressly preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. On appeal, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed and held that plaintiff’s claims were not preempted. The case was returned to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Cates v. Integris Health, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Elizabeth Cates was a former patient of defendant-appellee Integris Health, Inc.’s medical facility and claimed defendant wrongfully billed her, and others like her, for services. She filed this action in state court, alleging state-law claims for breach of contract, violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act, and deceit. Defendant successfully moved to dismiss these claims on the ground that they were expressly preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. On appeal, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed and held that plaintiff’s claims were not preempted. The case was returned to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Cates v. Integris Health, Inc." on Justia Law

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The probate court disqualified one of two co-personal representatives nominated in decedent's will. The disqualified nominee had a felony conviction for DUI. The probate court ruled that this was a conviction for an infamous crime as provided in 58 O.S.2011, section 102(2), and as defined in In re Dunham's Estate, 74 P.2d 117, and Briggs v. Board of County Commissioners, 217 P.2d 827. The disqualified nominee appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court retained the appeal because the change in case law that Bishop sought could only be ordered by the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Court declined to grant her relief: “the Legislature has tacitly approved the ‘Dunham’ interpretation of infamous crime to mean a felony under Oklahoma law. [. . .] Bishop admits that she has a felony conviction under Oklahoma law for D.U.I. and thus has a conviction for an infamous crime. By the express command of statute, she is not competent to serve as an executor.” View "In the Matter of the Estate of Middleton" on Justia Law

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The probate court disqualified one of two co-personal representatives nominated in decedent's will. The disqualified nominee had a felony conviction for DUI. The probate court ruled that this was a conviction for an infamous crime as provided in 58 O.S.2011, section 102(2), and as defined in In re Dunham's Estate, 74 P.2d 117, and Briggs v. Board of County Commissioners, 217 P.2d 827. The disqualified nominee appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court retained the appeal because the change in case law that Bishop sought could only be ordered by the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Court declined to grant her relief: “the Legislature has tacitly approved the ‘Dunham’ interpretation of infamous crime to mean a felony under Oklahoma law. [. . .] Bishop admits that she has a felony conviction under Oklahoma law for D.U.I. and thus has a conviction for an infamous crime. By the express command of statute, she is not competent to serve as an executor.” View "In the Matter of the Estate of Middleton" on Justia Law

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An employee of a trucking company was killed while on the job at an oil-well site. The employee's surviving daughter brought a wrongful death action against the owner and operator of the well site, Stephens Production Company. Stephens Production Company moved to dismiss the case pursuant to 85A O.S. Supp. 2013 sec. 5(A), which provides that "any operator or owner of an oil or gas well . . . shall be deemed to be an intermediate or principal employer" for purposes of extending immunity from civil liability. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, finding that section 5(A) of Title 85A was an unconstitutional special law. The trial court certified the order for immediate interlocutory review, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court granted certiorari review. The Supreme Court concluded that the last sentence of section 5(A) of Title 85A was an impermissible and unconstitutional special law under Art. 5, section 59 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The last sentence of section 5(A) was severed from the remainder of that provision. View "Strickland v. Stephens Production Co." on Justia Law

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The question this case presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s review was whether the trial court's order declaring M.A.S. eligible for adoption without the biological father's consent, pursuant to Okla. Stat. tit. 10, sec. 7505-4.2(B)(1) and (H)(2011), was supported by clear and convincing evidence. The child’s stepfather filed an application to adopt M.A.S. without the biological father’s consent. In the application, the stepfather alleged that that Father had not substantially complied with the court's child-support order and that Father had failed to maintain a substantial and positive relationship with M.A.S. Because of this, the stepfather asserted father's consent was not required. In its order, the trial court acknowledged “there may have been some obstacles interposed to make maintaining such a relationship difficult but this court established parameters whereby visitation could occur and the Respondent / Natural Father has not taken advantage of those opportunities, which conduct this court finds to be wilful. Therefore, the Petitioner's application for an order declaring this child to be eligible for adoption without the consent of the Natural Father is sustained.” The Supreme Court found that the trial court proceedings were “extremely unusual:” no evidentiary hearing was held concerning the application for adoption without consent or the child's best interests; and thus, no evidentiary testimony was gathered concerning the father's ability or inability to comply with the court-ordered support obligation during the relevant period. Rather, the parties agreed that the trial judge's ruling would be based solely on the parties' stipulations and briefs. “That, it cannot do.” The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "In the Matter of the Adoption of M.A.S." on Justia Law

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Appellants ("Customers") requested the Oklahoma Supreme Court reverse the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's ("Commission") Order Dismissing Cause and remand the underlying application to the Commission for a full hearing. Appellants were a group of six different individuals who were customers of the Defendant, Southwestern Bell Telephone d/b/a AT&T Oklahoma ("SWBT"). Customers filed their Application in 2015, asking the Commission to vacate or modify PUD 260 entered in 1989 in order "to redress the proven bribery and corruption perpetrated by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company [SWBT] that occurred in 1989 in relation to Oklahoma Corporation Commission's . . . Cause No. PUD (Public Utility Docket) 860000260 ("PUD 260")." The then-acting public utility division director for the Commission, initiated PUD 260 to determine how SWBT should distribute or utilize SWBT's surplus cash created by federal corporate tax reforms. Two of the three Commissioners approved the 1989 Order wherein it was determined that SWBT surplus revenue should not be refunded to its ratepayers. Commissioner Hopkins ("Hopkins"), was one of the two commissioners who voted in favor of the 1989 Order. Several years after the adoption of this Order, the public learned that Hopkins had accepted a bribe in exchange for assuring his favorable vote to the 1989 Order. Hopkins was indicted in 1993 and then later convicted for his criminal act. Commissioner Anthony announced in 1992 that he had been secretly acting as an investigator and informant in an ongoing FBI investigation concerning the conduct of his fellow commissioners and of SWBT. Following Hopkins' conviction, in 1997, Anthony, pro se, filed a document titled "Suggestion to the Court," advising the Supreme Court of the criminal misconduct of Hopkins and asked it Court to recall its mandate issued in Henry v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., 825 P.2d 1305. The Supreme Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The case was remanded back to the Commission which determined the matter should be closed in its entirety. The Commission's order was not appealed. In January 2010, Anthony again filed a "Suggestion for Sua Sponte Recall of Mandate, Vacation of Opinion, and Remand of Cause to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for Want of Appellate Jurisdiction with Brief in Support of Suggested Actions." The Oklahoma Supreme Court found it was bound to uphold the findings and conclusion of the Commission where they are "sustained by the law and substantial evidence." The Commission's Order Dismissing Cause contained overwhelming evidence and legal authority supporting its Order. The Order Dismissing Cause, Order No. 655899 was thus affirmed. View "Clements v. Southwestern Bell Telephone" on Justia Law

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Appellant John Doe filed suit against appellees The First Presbyterian Church U.S.A. ("FPC"), of Tulsa, Oklahoma and its minister, James Miller, based on theories of torts and breach of contract. Doe sought damages arising out of alleged harm he incurred from Appellees' publishing notice of his baptism on the world wide web. Doe claimed that he advised Appellees of the need to keep his baptism private and as confidential as possible. Doe asserted that Appellees assured him that his conversion to Christianity would be held as confidential as possible. Doe alleged that because of Appellees' assurances, he proceeded with baptism by Appellees. Appellant alleged that Appellees' act of publishing the fact of his baptism to the world wide web resulted in his alleged kidnaping and subsequent torture by extremists while he traveled in Syria. The trial court sustained Appellees' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Oklahoma Supreme Court concluded it was error for the district court to find it had no subject matter jurisdiction to hear Doe's claims on the basis of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. "The record below is replete with contested issues of fact which must be resolved by the trier of fact in an adversarial hearing below." This matter was remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Doe v. The First Presbyterian Church U.S.A. of Tulsa" on Justia Law