Justia Oklahoma Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Business Law
Bird v. Pruett’s Food, Inc.
Plaintiff Steven Bird, an independent contractor hired to install a new checkout lane at Defendant Pruett's Food store, was injured after falling off a ladder Defendant had supplied to aid Plaintiff in completing the work. Plaintiff initiated a negligence action, seeking damages from his injuries and lost wages. Plaintiff presented his case at trial, after which Defendant demurred to Plaintiff's evidence. The trial court sustained the demurrer. Plaintiff appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant owed him a duty of care. View "Bird v. Pruett's Food, Inc." on Justia Law
Murrow v. Penney
Defendant-appellee Malcolm Penney left a wedding which was held at The Springs Event Venue and proceeded to drive the wrong way down a highway. He crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by Marissa Murrow, killing her. Murrows' parents sued The Springs. They did not allege that The Springs over-served Penney. Rather, they alleged The Springs had a duty to prevent Penney from leaving, and to enforce their policies which prohibited outside alcohol from being brought onto the premises. The trial court determined that the event venue had no duty to prevent harm to third-parties such as the deceased, and it granted summary judgment to The Springs. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that Oklahoma law did not recognize a duty on the part of a private event venue extending to third parties killed by a voluntarily intoxicated adult who attended, but was not "over-served" by the event venue. The trial court therefore did not err in denying the parents' Motion to Vacate/Modify. View "Murrow v. Penney" on Justia Law
TOCH, LLC v. City of Tulsa, et al.
TOCH, LLC, the owner and operator of Aloft Hotel, alleged that the Tulsa Tourism Improvement District No. 1 was allegedly improperly created because fifty percent or more of the affected hotel owners protested in writing prior to its creation. City of Tulsa and Tulsa Hotel Partners sought summary judgment on this issue and disputed this material fact by submitting affidavits to disprove TOCH's allegation. The trial court granted summary judgment to the City, but the Oklahoma Supreme Court found the trial court erred when it made a factual determination on this controverted fact. "Weighing disputed evidence is not proper on summary judgment." The trial court's decision was therefore reversed. View "TOCH, LLC v. City of Tulsa, et al." on Justia Law
MeGee v. El Patio
In January 2021, Plaintiff-appellant Nancy MeGee, as Personal Representative of and on behalf of the Estate of David MeGee, filed a wrongful death action against Defendants-appellees El Patio, LLC and Dylan Welch, an employee of El Patio. The petition alleged Welch intentionally and negligently over-served MeGee resulting in his death. It was alleged that Welch and other El Patio employees served MeGee twelve beers and five shots of tequila over the course of seven hours and then allowed him to drive. The petition further alleged several servers bet MeGee $200.00 that he would not meet them at a bar in Oklahoma City later that night. Welch and the servers knew MeGee was leaving El Patio to drive to Oklahoma City to collect on the bet. MeGee reached speeds of 97 mph on his way and collided with the rear end of a tractor-trailer on I-40 near El Reno, Oklahoma. He was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. There were two issues presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Courts review on appeal: (1) should dram shop liability be extended to create a cause of action for a voluntarily intoxicated adult patron who is injured or dies as a result of his own intoxication; and (2) does a voluntarily intoxicated adult who accepts a bet to drive a motor vehicle and injures himself as a result of his own intoxication have a cause of action against the bettor? The Supreme Court reaffirmed its holding in Ohio Casualty Insurance Co. v. Todd, 813 P.2d 508, that the commercial vendor was not liable to the voluntarily intoxicated adult patron who injures himself. The Court declined to recognized a cause of action holding a bettor liable in circumstances alleged in this case. View "MeGee v. El Patio" on Justia Law
Cherokee Nation v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al.
Cherokee Nation filed a declaratory judgment action seeking insurance coverage under the business interruption provision of a policy issued by a number of insurers for the economic losses it incurred when it temporarily closed its properties due to the threat of COVID-19. The district court granted Cherokee Nation's motion for partial summary judgment, holding the phrase "direct physical loss" in the business interruption provision of the policy included coverage for losses sustained by property rendered unusable for its intended purpose. The district court also found that none of the exclusions raised by the insurers applied to Cherokee Nation's loss. The insurers appealed, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court retained the appeal, holding that Cherokee Nation's losses were not covered under the business interruption section of the insurance policy at issue. The district court erred in finding business interruption coverage when Cherokee Nation did not sustain immediate, tangible deprivation or destruction of property. View "Cherokee Nation v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al." on Justia Law
Continental Resources v. Wolla Oilfield Services
The United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma certified two questions of law to the Oklahoma Supreme Court relating to the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act, and whether it applied to conduct outside of Oklahoma. The matter concenred a dispute between Continental Resources, Inc. (Continental), an oil and gas producer headquartered in Oklahoma, and Wolla Oilfield Services, LLC (Wolla), a North Dakota limited liability company that operated as a hot oil service provider in North Dakota. Continental alleged the parties entered into an agreement for Wolla to provide hot oil services at an hourly rate to Continental's wells in North Dakota. As part of the contract, Wolla agreed to submit its invoices through an "online billing system" and to bill accurately and comprehensively for work it performed. A whistleblower in Wolla's accounting department notified Continental about systematic overbilling in connection with this arrangement. Continental conducted an audit and concluded Wolla's employees were overbilling it for time worked. Wolla denies these allegations. The Oklahoma Supreme Court concluded: (1) the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act does not apply to a consumer transaction when the offending conduct that triggers the Act occurs solely within the physical boundaries of another state; and (2) the Act also does not apply to conduct where, even if the physical location is difficult to pinpoint, such actions or transactions have a material impact on, or material nexus to, a consumer in the state of Oklahoma. View "Continental Resources v. Wolla Oilfield Services" on Justia Law
In the matter of the Income Tax Protest of Raytheon Company
Corporate taxpayer Raytheon Company's 2012 income tax return was due on March 15, 2013. Raytheon filed its return on September 27, 2013, after securing an authorized extension of the deadline. Raytheon later discovered that the return overstated the company's annual income based upon the inadvertent inclusion of Arizona property sales. The company filed an amended 2012 return on September 27, 2016, claiming a refund of $321,444.00. The Oklahoma Tax Commission denied the refund claim, reasoning taxpayer submitted its demand more than three years after paying the taxes. An administrative law judge found the claimed refund was time barred under 68 O.S.2011, section 2373, and the Commissioners affirmed this finding. The company appealed, and after review the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed, finding the taxpayer timely brought the claim for refund, having paid taxes to the Oklahoma Tax Commission upon filing its amended original return with a proper extension. View "In the matter of the Income Tax Protest of Raytheon Company" on Justia Law
Sutton v. David Stanley Chevrolet
In 2016, plaintiff-appellee Isaac Sutton went shopping for a vehicle at the defendant-appellant David Stanley Chevrolet, Inc.'s (hereafter DSC) car dealership. He agreed to purchase a 2016 Chevy Silverado on credit and he agreed to trade-in his 2013 Challenger. He was informed by DSC that his credit was approved. In addition, he was given $22,800.00 for the Challenger for which he still owed $25,400.00. The documents for the purchase of the vehicle amounted to approximately eighty-six pages, which included a purchase agreement and a retail installment sale contract (RISC). He left the dealership that evening with the Silverado and left his Challenger. Several days later he was informed by DSC that his financing was not approved and he would need a co-signor to purchase the Silverado. Sutton visited DSC but was then told he did not need a co-signor and there was no need to return the vehicle. At the end of June his lender for his 2013 Challenger contacted him about late payments. Sutton contacted DSC who said it was not their responsibility to make those payments since they did not own the Challenger he traded-in. A few days later, he was notified by DSC that his Challenger had been stolen and the matter was not the responsibility of DSC. Sutton had to make an insurance claim on his Challenger and DSC took back the Silverado. In the meantime, Sutton continued to make payments on the Challenger. Plaintiff and his wife Celeste Sutton sued DSC over the whole transaction involving the Challenger. DSC moved to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs alleged they were fraudulently induced into entering the arbitration agreement. The trial court found there was fraudulent inducement and overruled the motion to compel arbitration. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings concerning the unconscionability of the arbitration agreement. The Oklahoma Supreme Court granted certiorari, and found the trial court's order was fully supported by the evidence. The opinion of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals was therefore vacated and the matter remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Sutton v. David Stanley Chevrolet" on Justia Law
Toch, LLC v. City of Tulsa
Defendant the City of Tulsa (City), passed an ordinance creating a tourism improvement district that encompassed all properties within City which had hotels or motels with 110 or more rooms available for occupancy. Plaintiff-appellee Toch, LLC owned Aloft Downtown Tulsa (Aloft) with 180 rooms. Toch petitioned for a declaratory judgment that the ordinance was invalid for a variety of reasons, including that the district did not include all hotels with at least 50 rooms available. The court granted summary judgment to Toch based on its determination that City exceeded the authority granted in title 11, section 39-103.1. The question before Oklahoma Supreme Court was whether section 39-103.1 granted authority to municipalities to limit a tourism improvement district to a minimum room-count of a number larger than 50. To this, the Court answered in the affirmative, reversed the trial court, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Toch, LLC v. City of Tulsa" on Justia Law
Signature Leasing, LLC v. Buyer’s Group, LLC
Plaintiff Signature Leasing, LLC requested a declaratory judgment regarding a contract containing an arbitration clause which Plaintiff alleged that Defendants Buyer's Group, LLC and Williams & Williams Marketing Services, Inc. had fraudulently induced Plaintiff to sign. Defendants filed motions to dismiss and motions to compel arbitration which the district court granted. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed and remanded to the district court. The underlying question presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court's review was whether the district court or the arbitrator determined challenges of fraudulent inducement to the entirety of a contract which contains an arbitration clause under the Oklahoma Uniform Arbitration Act (OUAA). The Court determined the arbitrator makes that determination, and affirmed the judgment of the district court compelling the matter to arbitration. View "Signature Leasing, LLC v. Buyer's Group, LLC" on Justia Law