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Plaintiffs brought an action against the City of Oklahoma City alleging they suffered damages from a sewer backup. The jury returned a verdict for plaintiffs. The district court reduced the jury award to each couple to $25,000.00 for property damages. Plaintiffs appealed and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Plaintiffs appealed and asserted they were entitled to an additional amount per couple as awarded by the jury. The City argued a notice of claim had to specify with particularity property damages and other damages. The judge's decision in reducing the verdict was based upon two concepts: (1) a plaintiff must specify whether damages have occurred to (a) property or (b) "any other loss" as part of the pre-suit notice to the governmental entity, and (2) the absence of such specificity in the notice invalidates the notice as to either type of loss not specifically named with particularity in the notice. After review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held a claimant's notice of "property damage" without stating "any other loss" in the notice was a sufficient notice for property damage but not sufficient notice for any other loss. The Court held plaintiffs' GTCA notices of claim using the form provided by the City of Oklahoma City and claiming specific damage to their property were also required by the GTCA to provide notice of a claim for personal injuries (or "any other loss") arising from that same transaction or occurrence in order to bring their subsequent suit in District Court for both property damage and personal injury/nuisance. The Court's holding was prospective. The opinion of the Court of Civil Appeals was vacated, the judgment of the District Court was reversed, and the matter was remanded with directions to grant plaintiffs a new trial on both their property and personal injury claims. View "Grisham v. City of Oklahoma City" on Justia Law

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A workers' compensation claimant suffered a hernia and recurrent hernia due to work. He requested a contested hearing on the constitutionality of the hernia provision of the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act, 85A O.S. Supp. 2013 section 61. An administrative law judge determined 85A O.S. Supp. 2013 sec. 61 to be constitutional. Claimant appealed. The Workers' Compensation Commission affirmed the determination of the administrative law judge. The question presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court's review was whether the hernia provision was unconstitutional because: (1) it violated the due process rights of claimants guaranteed by U.S. Const. amend. XIV, sec. 1 and Okla. Const. art. 2, sec. 7; (2) it was a special law prohibited by Okla. Const. art. 5, sec. 46; and (3) it failed to provide an adequate remedy for a recognized wrong, in violation of Okla. Const. art. 2, sec. 6. The Supreme Court answered in the negative. However, in light of it's opinion in Corbeil v. Emricks Van & Storage, 2017 OK 71, ___ P.3d ___, this case was remanded for further proceedings concerning the application of 85A O.S. Supp. 2013 sec. 61. View "Graham v. D&K Oilfield Services" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Lyle Corbeil suffered bilateral inguinal hernias at work, filed for workers' compensation benefits, and asked for a contested hearing on the issue of temporary total disability. The administrative law judge determined that petitioner was limited to six weeks of temporary total disability, despite petitioner's contention he suffered two hernias and should have been eligible for twelve weeks total (six for each hernia). Petitioner appealed to the Workers' Compensation Commission, which affirmed the administrative law judge. The question presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court's review was whether the hernia provision of the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act (AWCA), 85A O.S. Supp. 2013 section 61, permitted an award of up to six weeks of temporary total disability (TTD) for each hernia suffered by a claimant, regardless of whether the hernias occurred, or were repaired, simultaneously. The Court held that it did, reversed the Commission's decision and remanded for further proceedings. View "Corbeil v. Emericks Van & Storage" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Kim Young was injured, sought workers' compensation benefits, and approximately thirteen months later her employment was terminated. Plaintiff sued, alleging she had been terminated from employment in retaliation for her workers' compensation claim. Further, she alleged her termination violated public policy and she possessed a tort claim pursuant to Burk v. K-Mart Corp., which entitled her to a jury trial in District Court. She alleged 85A O.S.Supp.2013 section 7 of the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act denied her a jury trial and violated Article 2 section19 of the Oklahoma Constitution. After review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held plaintiff's retaliatory discharge action was not a “Burk” tort, but a statutory action based upon 85 O.S.2011 section 341, which was the retaliatory discharge statute in effect when her workers' compensation injury occurred. Adjudicating the appeal did not require determining whether 85A O.S. sec. 7 violated Okla. Const. Art. 2 sec. 19; the Court’s analysis assumed 85A O.S. 7 was constitutional and thereby expressed a statutory continuation of Oklahoma's long-recognized public policy creating an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine by condemning an employer's conduct taken to retaliate for an employee's statutorily-protected actions related to a workers' compensation claim. The Court also concluded plaintiff's section 341 retaliation claim did not violate 85A O.S.Supp.2013 sec. 7. View "Young v. Station 27, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioners are a not-for-profit trade association of automobile dealers, an automobile dealer, and a prospective consumer in Oklahoma. All challenged House Bill 2433, alleging that it was a revenue bill enacted outside of the procedure mandated in Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The parties agreed the passage of HB 2433 did not comply with Article V, Section 33; so the case turned on whether HB 2433 was a "revenue bill" to which Article V, Section 33 applies. Applying the test utilized since 1908, the Oklahoma Supreme Court concluded that, HB 2433 "does not levy a tax in the strict sense" because it removed a tax exemption from an already levied tax rather than levying any new tax. As such, HB 2433 was not a revenue bill subject to Article V, Section 33's requirements. View "Oklahoma Automobile Dealers Assoc. v. Oklahoma ex rel Oklahoma Tax Comm." on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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Petitioners are manufacturers, wholesalers, and consumers of cigarettes. Collectively they challenged Oklahoma Senate Bill 845, alleging that it was a revenue bill enacted outside of the procedure mandated in Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The parties agreed that the passage of SB 845 did not comply with Article V, Section 33; so the case turned on whether SB 845 was the kind of "revenue bill" that Article V, Section 33 governed. Applying a test used since 1908, the Oklahoma Supreme Court concluded that the primary purpose of Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 was to raise new revenue for the support of state government through the assessment of a new $1.50 excise tax on cigarettes and that, in doing so, SB 845 levied a tax in the strict sense. As such, Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 comprised a revenue bill enacted in violation of Article V, Section 33 and were unconstitutional View "Naifeh v. Oklahoma, ex rel. Oklahoma Tax Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Taxpayer held stock in two Oklahoma S-corporations. He sold substantially all of the corporate assets of both companies to a third party. Following the sale, taxpayer received his proportionate share of the proceeds, and reported that sum as a net capital gain on his federal tax return. Taxpayer later sought a deduction equivalent to the net capital gain on an amended Oklahoma return. The Oklahoma Tax Commission disallowed the deduction to the extent the proceeds were derived from intangible personal property (namely goodwill). After review of the matter, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed, finding the taxpayer sold an indirect ownership interest in an Oklahoma company, and therefore, qualified for the deduction. View "In the Matter of the Income Tax Protest of Hare" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Tax Law

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Claimant sought permanent total disability benefits from the Multiple Injury Trust Fund. The Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims held that the claimant's combined injuries rendered the claimant permanently totally disabled and awarded benefits. The Multiple Injury Trust Fund appealed. On appeal, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed, finding claimant ineligible to claim benefits against the Multiple Injury Trust Fund as the claimant was not a "physically impaired person" at the time of the claimant's second on-the-job injury. The dispositive issue presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s review was whether claimant met the statutory definition of a "physically impaired person" at the time of the claimant's second on-the-job injury for purposes of determining eligibility for Multiple Injury Trust Fund benefits. As a corollary, the Court considered whether a duly-executed settlement agreement (memorialized on a form prescribed by the Workers' Compensation Court) constituted an adjudication of the claimant's disabilities. The Court answered both questions in the affirmative. View "Multiple Injury Trust Fund v. Garrett" on Justia Law

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The State filed a petition to terminate Mother's parental rights pursuant to 10A O.S.Supp.2014, section 1-4-904(B)(5), alleging Mother failed to correct the conditions that led to the deprived child adjudication of B.K. B.K. was removed from the home as the result of a delusional episode in which Mother believed the police had planted listening devices in B.K.'s ears to spy on Mother. This delusional episode was reported to police by B.K.'s seventeen-year-old brother. Both a psychologist and a psychiatrist diagnosed Mother as having a delusional persecution disorder that medication would help control. When Mother said she would not take medication for the delusional disorder, the State pursued termination of Mother's parental rights because B.K. had been in DHS foster care for over 36 months. A jury returned a verdict that found Mother failed to correct the conditions. The trial court entered judgment on the verdict and terminated Mother's parental rights. Mother appealed. Upon review, a majority of the Court of Civil Appeals reversed the judgment, finding undisputed evidence revealed Mother's mental disorder was the cause of B.K. being adjudicated deprived, not deficiencies in parenting. The majority opinion held that any termination must be based on the mental health ground found in 10A O.S.Supp.2014 sec. 1-4-904(B)(13) and, therefore, it was fundamental error to terminate pursuant to 10A O.S.Supp. 2014 sec. 1-4-904(B)(5). The State sought review from the Oklahoma Supreme Court to address whether the Legislature intended 10A O.S.2011, section 1-4-904(B)(13) to be the exclusive ground for termination in cases where a parent has a "diagnosed cognitive disorder" or can such a disorder be a "condition" leading to a deprived adjudication that a parent must correct under 10A O.S.2011, section 1-4-904(B)(5). The Supreme Court vacated the majority opinion of the Court of Civil Appeals, and held: (1) subsection 1-4-904(B)(13) did not exclusively apply, and (2) the trial court did not err in terminating Mother's parental rights based on subsection 1-4-904(B)(5). View "In the Matter of B.K." on Justia Law

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Bob Hensley (Buyer) purchased real estate by contract for deed. He sued the insurer of the property's previous owner, State Farm Fire & Casualty, alleging breach of the implied-in-law duty of good faith. Insurer filed a motion for summary judgment and argued buyer was a stranger to the insurance contract and could not bring an action against insurer. The trial court granted the insurer's motion for summary judgment. The judgment was appealed and affirmed by the Court of Civil Appeals. After review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held the buyer's action in this case for breach of the implied-in-law duty of good faith by an insurer was based upon his status as an insured or third party beneficiary; and buyer's equitable title to property arising from a contract for deed is insufficient by itself to confer upon him the status of an insured. The Court also held the buyer presented facts on the issue whether he was an intended third party beneficiary, and these facts and their inferences were disputed by insurer. Whether buyer was a third party beneficiary and an insured under the policy based upon disputed facts and inferences was a matter for the trier of fact, and summary judgment for insurer was improvidently granted. View "Hensley v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co." on Justia Law