Justia Oklahoma Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court granted certiorari review for a second time in this case. Appellant Richard Dopp, appealed the trial court's dismissal of the refiling of his petition pursuant to 12 O.S. 2011, section 100, and his motion to reconsider the order of dismissal. The Appellant was an inmate, and his name appeared on the Oklahoma Registry of Frivolous or Malicious Appeals three or more times. The trial court dismissed without prejudice his first case because he had not prepaid the required filing fees pursuant to 57 O.S. 2011, section 566.2. Appellant then filed a motion to reconsider within ten days of that order, which the trial court denied. He appealed those orders to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal for failure to pay the required appellate cost deposit after the Court ordered him to pay it. Appellant refiled his petition. The trial court dismissed the petition as being untimely, finding that he did not file it within one year of the date of the order dismissing his first case. The trial court determined that his motion to reconsider was void ab initio pursuant to section 566.2. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals affirmed, finding that only a validly filed appeal would extend the time to refile a petition pursuant to section 100 and the Appellant's first appeal was not valid. The Supreme Court vacated the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals' opinion, reversed the trial court, and remanded for further proceedings, holding the Appellant's first appeal was valid and the one-year period to refile began to run the day after the first appeal was final. View "Dopp v. Kirkendall" on Justia Law

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The question presented to the Oklahoma Supreme Court in this case was whether a district court could examine the circumstances of a juror's prior litigation history for the purpose of determining whether the juror's failure to disclose this history during voir dire did not materially affect the substantial rights of a party. Francis Johnson and her sister, Omega Beyrer, visited a restaurant where Johnson fell and suffered a fractured hip. Johnson brought an action based upon premises liability against The Mule LLC (Restaurant), and a jury trial was held in February 2019. The jury returned a verdict determining Johnson was 74% negligent and Restaurant 24% negligent, and awarded no damages to Johnson. Johnson filed a motion for new trial, arguing the jury foreman, D. K., had failed during voir dire to disclose his prior involvement as a defendant in an Oklahoma County tort action in 2005. D. K. was named with his father as defendants in a 2005 action which alleged D. K. used his father's automobile which resulted in an automobile collision. The collision and 2005 action occurred when D. K. was a minor. Plaintiff argued the juror's silence denied her an opportunity to make an informed challenge to the juror and that she was entitled to a new trial. The Supreme Court concluded a trial court's adjudication of a motion for new trial may include an examination of the circumstances of the juror's litigation history when the motion is based upon a prospective juror's failure to disclose litigation history during voir dire. In this case, the Court held the juror's conduct did not rise to conduct materially affecting plaintiff's substantial rights. The district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for new trial was affirmed. View "Beyrer v. The Mule" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit certified a question of law to the Oklahoma Supreme Court on whether Progressive Northern Insurance Company's Underinsured Motorist (UM) Exclusion--which operated to deny uninsured motorist coverage to insureds who recover at least the statutorily mandated minimum in the form of liability coverage--contravened Oklahoma's Uninsured Motorist Statute, codified at 36 O.S. section 3636. The Supreme Court responded "yes:" Because of the sweeping nature of the UM Exclusion contained in the insurance policy at issue, Progressive found a way to entirely avoid providing the promised coverage. "[A]n insurer in Oklahoma cannot deprive its policyholder of uninsured-motorist coverage for which a premium has been paid through an exclusion that effectively erases its policyholder's choice to purchase that coverage in the first place. We conclude that Progressive's UM Exclusion contravenes section 3636 and is therefore void as against public policy." View "Lane v. Progressive Northern Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-appellants, Craig Immel, Terry Young, Herb Beattie, and Ray Pearcey (collectively, "Taxpayers"), sought a declaratory judgment that Defendants-appellees, Tulsa Public Facilities Authority (TPFA) and the City of Tulsa (City), could not sell 8.8 acres of park land to a private developer for the construction of a commercial shopping center because the land was held in a public trust expressly as a park for the people. All parties moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the TPFA and the City's joint motion for summary judgment as to all claims. Taxpayers appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held: (1) Taxpayers had standing; (2) the TPFA and the City could not sell the 8.8 acres of park land to a private developer for construction of a commercial shopping center because the land was indeed held in a public trust for the people, unless it was abandoned and/or was no longer fit for its intended use as a public park; (3) there were disputed material facts as to whether the TPFA and the City lawfully abandoned the 8.8 acres of park land; and (4) there were disputed material facts as to whether the expenditure met the public purpose requirement under the Oklahoma Constitution. The trial court's order granting the TPFA and the City's joint motion for summary judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Immel et al. v. Tulsa Public Facilities Authority" on Justia Law

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Appellant Iris Stacy (Mother) sought certiorari review of an unpublished opinion by the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals (COCA) that affirmed the trial court's judgment terminating her parental rights to I.T.S., I.M.S., and R.E.S. (Children). At issue was the trial court's sua sponte discharge of Mother's court-appointed counsel at the conclusion of the disposition hearing, which left her without representation until State filed its petition to terminate her parental rights over two years later. She argued the trial court's failure to provide her legal representation between the disposition and the filing of the petition to terminate her parental rights (a period of 798 days) was contrary to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Oklahoma Supreme Court granted her petition to address a question of first impression: Upon request by an Indian child's parent for counsel in a deprived child proceeding, and a finding of indigency, whether the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) required court-appointed counsel for the parent at all stages of the deprived child proceeding. The Supreme Court held that section 1912(b) of ICWA required, upon request and a finding of indigency, the appointment of counsel at all stages of the deprived child proceeding. View "In the Matter of I.T.S." on Justia Law

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Appellants Taylor Hudson (Mother) and Cody Hudson (Father) appealed a trial court's judgments terminating their parental rights to their biological children, K.H., C.H., E.H., and C.H. Both judgments were entered on separate jury verdicts finding that clear and convincing evidence supported each parent's “heinous and shocking physical abuse” on another child of Father. After review on rehearing, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held: (1) admitting evidence of State's pending criminal child abuse charges against Parents; and (2) giving a jury instruction that listed the criminal charges to support State's amended petition for immediate termination of parental rights was “so inherently prejudicial” that it violated Parents' right to a fair trial. The judgments were reversed, and the matter remanded for a new trial. View "In the Matter of K. H." on Justia Law

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A physician's professional conduct was examined by the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision. During the disciplinary proceeding a stipulated protective order was entered by the Board. The professional complaint against the physician was dismissed, and approximately two years later the physician requested the Board modify its protective order to allow the physician to use three documents in a different legal proceeding. The Board refused, and the physician appealed. After review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held: (1) the stipulated blanket protective order making all documents in the administrative proceeding subject to the order and prohibiting their use in any other legal proceeding was contrary to the public policy expressed by the Oklahoma Open Records Act and the Oklahoma Discovery Code; and (2) the physician's claim seeking access to the initial report of misconduct was not properly before the Court. View "State ex rel. Okla. St. Bd. of Medical Licensure & Supervision v. Rivero" on Justia Law

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Appellee Highpointe Energy filed a quiet title action in Oklahoma against appellants the Viersens, and others. The disputed property concerned mineral interests from two different chains of title: one chain stemmed from a bankruptcy proceeding, while the other chain arose from a mortgage foreclosure proceeding and subsequent sheriff's sale. The trial court determined that the chain resulting from the foreclosure/sheriff's sale was superior to the bankruptcy chain. The Viersens appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that because the bankruptcy purchasers could secure no greater rights in the disputed property than the bankruptcy trustee held, the purchasers from the mortgage foreclosure proceeding held the superior title. View "Highpointe Energy v. Viersen" on Justia Law

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Petitioners the Oklahoma State Medical Association, Oklahoma Dental Association, the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association, the Oklahoma Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc., and Oklahoma Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics, Inc., asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to exercise its original jurisdiction to declare the actions of Respondents Kevin Corbett, CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the State of Oklahoma ex rel. the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), to implementing a new managed care program known as SoonerSelect, was not statutorily authorized and that such actions were therefore ultra vires. In the alternative, if the Supreme Court finds statutory authorization existed, Petitioners sought a declaration that Respondents violated the non-delegation doctrine. Petitioners also asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Respondents' actions, including the request for proposal (RFP) and contract awards, because the Respondents failed to promulgate administrative rules to govern their implementation in violation of 75 O.S. 2011, sections 302(D) and (E). Finally, the Petitioners asserted the SoonerSelect program would require mandatory enrollment in violation of article II, Section 37(B) of the Oklahoma Constitution. The Petitioners requested the Supreme Court issue a writ of prohibition barring the Respondents from implementing SoonerSelect until such time as the Oklahoma Legislature has conferred the necessary authority. In the alternative, if the Court found such authority already existed in statute, then Petitioners requested the Court issue a writ of mandamus requiring the Respondents to promulgate administrative rules governing the SoonerSelect program prior to further implementation of the program. The Supreme Court agreed with Petitioners' assertion that the Legislature did not authorize the creation of the SoonerSelect program. It therefore did not find it necessary to engage in a thorough examination of the statutes to determine if there was a non-delegation doctrine violation. The OHCA did not promulgate any rules governing SoonerSelect for to review in order to weigh such a determination. To this end, the Court granted Petitioners declaratory relief; the Court deemed writs of mandamus or probation inappropriate. View "Oklahoma State Medical Association et al. v. Corbett" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s review was whether the Court of Civil Appeals properly applied the laws on parental rights in a dispute between a married couple regarding custody and visitation with a minor child who was adopted by only one of the parties prior to marriage. The Supreme Court held that it did not: the child was adopted by Respondent-Appellee Adrieanna Guzman (Adrieanna) prior to the marriage. Petitioner-Appellant Carmen Guzman (Carmen) never adopted the child. As a step-parent, Carmen had no standing to petition the court for paternity of the child. Thus, the Court of Civil Appeals' opinion was vacated, and the trial court's order granting Adrieanna's motion to dismiss was affirmed. View "Guzman v. Guzman" on Justia Law