Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

by
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

by
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

by
Plaintiff-appellee Elizabeth Cates filed on her behalf and a putative class asserting claims against the defendant-appellee INTEGRIS Health, Inc. for breach of contract, violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act, deceit, specific performance, and punitive damages. INTEGRIS successfully moved to dismiss the claims based on the ground that they are all preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Cates appealed. Because the trial court in this matter did not take into consideration the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Salzer v. SSM Health Care of Oklahoma Inc., 762 F.3d 1130 (10th Cir. 2014), which was factually similar to the facts of this case and found that the plaintiff’s claims were not preempted, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed and remanded the trial court in this matter for reconsideration in light of Salzer. View "Cates v. Integris Health, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Parents sued medical providers for injuries sustained during their child's birth, alleging negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment to defendant Mercy Health Center. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing the trial court did not apply a correct standard for causation and failed to recognize the testimony from their expert witnesses. Mercy argued the trial court correctly sustained a motion for summary judgment which relied in part on a “Daubert” motion filed by Mercy. Mercy also argued plaintiffs failed to show causation, as required in a negligence action by an expert opinion. After review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed the summary judgment because plaintiffs' materials used to object to summary judgment showed expert opinions on causation sufficient to create a question of fact. The Court also explained a Daubert adjudication may not be applied retroactively to support a prior judgment. View "Andrew v. Depani-Sparkes" on Justia Law

by
The trial court granted the request of a wholesaler of veterinary prescription drugs to set aside a final order of the Oklahoma Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (“Vet Board”) wherein the Board ordered the wholesaler to produce certain requested documents and fined it $25,000 for failure to do so. The Supreme Court found nothing in the Vet Act made wholesale distributors of veterinary prescription drugs, who are licensed and regulated by the Pharmacy Board through the Pharmacy Act, subject to the Vet Act and its investigative power. As such, the Vet Board was without statutory authority to investigate or sanction wholesalers who fell under the regulation of the Pharmacy Board, let alone fine a wholesaler $25,000 for failure to produce records that the Vet Board could have inspected in the regular course of the wholesaler's business. View "Farmacy, LLC v. Kirkpatrick" on Justia Law

by
Shonda Brisco entered into an employment agreement with Oklahoma State University, which provided that she would be reappointed contingent on her job performance. She was not reappointed and successfully brought suit for breach of contract. After trial, the district court awarded Brisco attorney fees under 12 O.S. 2011 section 936. The State appealed the award of fees, and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to address whether fees were authorized under 12 O.S. 2011 section 936, and held they were not. View "Brisco v. Oklahoma ex rel Bd. of Regents Agricultural & Mechanical Colleges" on Justia Law

by
Employee-appellant Tracy Meeks sued an insurer for bad faith refusal to timely comply with several orders of the Workers' Compensation Court awarding employee temporary total disability benefits after the insurer, without good cause, withheld employee's benefits on twenty-six separate occasions. Insurer moved for dismissal, asserting employee failed to obtain a certification order from the Workers' Compensation Court (a jurisdictional prerequisite for commencing a bad-faith action in district court). The District Court granted insurer's motion, but the Supreme Court reversed. Because the certification requirements were met here, employee was free to proceed in district court on his bad-faith claim against insurer for insurer's alleged bad faith refusal to provide temporary total disability benefits as ordered by the WCC. View "Meeks v. Guarantee Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
The question presented to the Oklahoma Supreme Court by this case was whether the district court abused its discretion when it denied Appellant's (Biological Mother) second motion for reconsideration. In 2013, the district court terminated Biological Mother's parental rights to K.S. In 2015, Biological Mother filed a petition for guardianship over Child in Oklahoma County District Court. The district court denied the petition for guardianship without prejudice. The court noted Biological Mother's failure to serve or notify the proper parties and inability to do so in the future due to the confidentiality of adoption proceedings. The same day, Biological Mother filed a motion for reconsideration of the petition for guardianship and a motion asking the court to grant time to provide notice. The district court denied the motions for reconsideration and to grant time. The court noted that the motions were incoherent and stated that the court felt the petition contained circumstances such that the motions should be decided without a hearing under Rule 4(h) of the Rules for District Courts of Oklahoma. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's ruling, finding the district court was correct that notifying Parents of the guardianship proceeding was “an insurmountable hurdle” to Biological Mother and that it was allowed to deny the motion without a hearing. There was no abuse of discretion. View "In the matter of K.S." on Justia Law

by
Appellants Bruce Schultz and Jared Bruce mutually sought to vacate their adult adoption granted ten years prior. The issue in this case was whether the trial court lacked authority to vacate an adult adoption where both parties sought the termination of parental rights as competent adults. The trial court opined that because the Oklahoma Adoption Code, 10 O.S. 2011, section 7507-1.1, neither authorized nor prohibited the vacation of adult adoptions, it lacked authority to vacate the existing order. Appellants appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court directly, and the Supreme Court retained the first impression matter. Based on the Legislature's provisions in granting adult adoptions, parallel provisions for vacating adoptions of minor children, and the overall intent of the Adoption Code, the Supreme Court found an error warranting remand to the trial court to rehear Appellants' petition. As the trial court correctly found consent and competency of the parties, upon remand it needed only conduct a best-interest determination in deciding the matter. "With neither bad faith nor fraudulent motive of the parties, we find no evidence to suggest that the termination of rights herein would not serve their best interests." View "In the Matter of the Termination of Parental Rights of Schultz" on Justia Law

by
The Workers' Compensation Court issued two orders in two proceedings in 2008 and two orders in two proceedings in 2009. These four orders in four different proceedings required the Multiple Injury Trust Fund (Fund) to make periodic payments to injured workers and their lawyers for attorney's fees. The four claimants in these proceedings died, and the Fund stopped making payments to their lawyers upon determining an amount equal to eighty (80) weeks of compensation had been paid or tendered to the lawyers. Claimants' lawyers sought a determination the Fund had failed to make payments as required by the orders issued in 2008 and 2009. The Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims directed the Fund to pay attorneys' fees in each of the four proceedings as provided in the original orders. The Fund sought review of these orders before a three-judge panel of the Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims, and the panel affirmed the four orders of the trial judge. The Fund sought review from the Oklahoma Supreme Court. After its review, the Supreme Court held: (1) it had jurisdiction to review a decision of the Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims when a party aggrieved by that decision has filed a timely petition for review by the Supreme Court in accordance with the law in effect prior to February 1, 2014; (2) The Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims had jurisdiction to determine if the Fund made payments as required by the court's previous orders; (3) The Multiple Injury Trust Fund's liability for attorney's fees in these cases was determined by the specific statute concerning payment of attorney's fees by the Fund, 85 O.S.Supp.2005 section 172(H); and (4) 85 O.S.Supp. 2005 section 172(H) was not an unconstitutional special law. View "Multiple Injury Trust Fund v. Coburn" on Justia Law