Articles Posted in Oklahoma Supreme Court

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Claimant Barton J. Rodr was a full-time computer programmer employed by Yzer, Inc. He suffered a heart attack while doing lawn work for his employer on the employer's premises. He was not paid anything additional for the lawn work. Claimant sought workers' compensation benefits, which were denied: the employer denied that he was working as an employee at the time of injury and claimed that the injury was not incurred during the course and scope of his employment. Employer asserted that the claimant was acting as a volunteer when injured. The workers' compensation court awarded benefits, determining that Claimant was not acting as a volunteer arising out of and in the course of his employment. The three-judge panel unanimously affirmed. The employer appealed, asserting that Claimant did not meet the statutory definition of an employee under the workers' compensation act and that the accidental injury did not occur in the course and scope of employment. The Court of Civil Appeals vacated the order, finding it to be against the clear weight of the evidence and contrary to law because Claimant's performance of lawn work at the time of his injury was outside his employment and was not related to or incidental to his computer programmer job, and was therefore not compensable. Claimant timely appealed. The Supreme Court found that the test here was whether the work was necessary for the benefit of the employer: "Here, the employer specifically asked for volunteers to help with the yard work to make the grounds look nice for the grand reopening of Automobile Alley. The claimant and his thirteen-year-old son performed those duties. The employer then hired claimant's thirteen-year-old son to continue the yard work. . . . The employer's yard crew had quit and the claimant was performing that task to help out the employer, at the employer's request. The yard work was for the benefit of the employer and was not in furtherance of a personal mission. The facts reflect that the claimant was performing a special task for his employer and that his accidental injury arose out of and was within the course of his employment." The Court vacated the appellate court's decision and sustained the award entered by the workers' compensation court. View "Yzer, Inc. v. Rodr" on Justia Law

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This case concerned a summary judgment granted by the district court in favor of the Plaintiff-Appellee RAHI Real Estate Holdings, LLC, against the Defendants-Appellants Vincent and Leslie Adams. The original plaintiff, Residential Funding Real Estate Holdings, LLC, filed a petition to foreclose in 2009, claiming Appellants defaulted on their note. Residential attached a copy of the subject note and mortgage to the petition. The note has a special indorsement from Gateway which states "Pay to The Order Of: Option One Mortgage Without Recourse." Also attached to the note was a blank indorsement by Option One Mortgage Corporation. The district court granted a motion to substitute RAHI as plaintiff in place of Residential in this foreclosure action and ordered that the caption be modified to reflect RAHI as plaintiff. One day after the order granting substitution, Residential as plaintiff filed its first amended petition. Defendants filed their answer admitting that a note and mortgage were executed but denied that the note and mortgage attached to the petition are the ones they signed. Further, they denied default and demanded strict proof. Appellants also attacked plaintiff's standing and the subject matter jurisdiction of the court. Appellee filed a motion for summary judgment alleging there is no controversy as to any material facts and attached an affidavit. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that there was no transcript of a June 29, 2010 hearing in the record, so the Court could not determine what evidence was presented, including any concerning whether or not the substitution of parties gave Option One Mortgage and Option One Mortgage Corporation the right to enforce the note. It did appear from the filed record that there was at least one issue of material fact and summary judgment was inappropriate. Accordingly, the Court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Residential Funding Real Estate Holdings, LLC v. Adams" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the Oklahoma Legislature amended the Oklahoma Tax Code to require municipalities to contract with the State of Oklahoma through the Oklahoma Tax Commission to assess, collect and enforce municipal taxes. Prior to the amendment becoming effective, the City of Tulsa contracted with a private company to collect municipal taxes. On August 19, 2010, Tulsa filed a petition for declaratory judgment in the District Court of Oklahoma County to challenge the statute's constitutionality. The trial court found the statute unconstitutional. The State appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari. Upon review, the Court held that the amendments requiring the Commission to collect municipal sales and use taxes do not unconstitutionally impair Tulsa's obligation of contracts or infringe its inherent powers granted by the Constitution or the City's charter. View "City of Tulsa v. Oklahoma" on Justia Law

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Claimant Kelly Mowdy filed a workers' compensation claim after a spider bit him. Claimant worked as a floor hand for Petitioner Nomac Drilling, LLC when he noticed two red bumps on his knee. He reported the bumps to his supervisor, who seemed unconcerned about the injury. Over the course of a few days, the bumps grew swollen, infected, turned dark red and purple, and would later be diagnosed as an abscessed spider bite in which methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) cultures were found. Claimant underwent surgery to remove dead and infected tissue. Nomac denied Claimant's injury was the result of his employment. The case was tried, and testimony revealed that Claimant's living arrangements while working for Nomac were in a heavily wooded area that "was not real clean, not real kept up." A big hole underneath his bed lead all the way to the outdoors. The Workers' Compensation Court found Claimant's testimony was credible and persuasive. The court concluded that the incident was the predominant cause of Claimant's right leg injury, and awarded Claimant TTD benefits. Nomac appealed to the three-judge panel. The panel sustained the award. The Court of Civil Appeals, however, vacated the award and ordered the claim dismissed. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court: "an appellate court must sustain the Workers' Compensation Court's decision where there is any competent evidence supporting the decision. Claimant's expert medical report [was] not defective, and there [was] sufficient evidence to support the trial court's finding that the Claimant sustained an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of his employment." View "Nomac Drilling, LLC v. Mowdy" on Justia Law

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The Oklahoma Tax Commission assessed corporate income taxes against Vermont Corporation Scioto Insurance Company for 2001 through 2005, based on payments Scioto received from the use of Scioto's intellectual property by Wendy's restaurants in Oklahoma. In response, Scioto protested these assessments on the ground that it did not contract with the Wendy's restaurants in Oklahoma for use of the property in question and did not conduct any business whatsoever in Oklahoma. The Tax Commission denied Scioto's protest and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court previously granted certiorari. Upon review, the Court vacated the Court of Civil Appeals opinion, reversed the Tax Commission's denial of Scioto's protest and remanded the case with instructions to sustain Scioto's protest. View "In re Income Tax Protest of Scioto Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Defendants-Appellants John and Lisa Alexander appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of U.S. Bank National Association as trustee for for Credit Suisse First Boston HEAT 2005-4. Defendants executed a note to MILA, Inc., DBA Mortgage Investment Lending Associates, Inc. and a mortgage to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), as nominee for MILA and its successors and assigns. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. filed a foreclosure petition on in 2009, alleging Appellants defaulted on the note. The petition further states Wells Fargo was the present holder of the note and mortgage, and Wells Fargo took the note and mortgage for good and valuable consideration from the original lender. A copy of the note and part of the mortgage was attached to the original petition. The note attached to the original petition contained no indorsements. An Order Granting Motion for Substitution of Plaintiff and Modification of Caption was filed. Appellee, U.S. Bank National Association, as trustee, for Credit Suisse First Boston HEAT 2005-4 was substituted in place of Wells Fargo. The motion stated Wells Fargo had subsequently assigned all of its rights in the mortgage to Appellee. Appellee also filed its First Amended Petition which re-alleged all of the allegations of Wells Fargo's petition and identified additional defendants as parties who may have an interest in the property. Appellee attached to the amended petition, a copy of the same unindorsed note and mortgage originally executed by Appellant John W. Alexander, III, in 2005. Appellants never answered the petition and a judgment was entered against then in April 2010. A day later, Appellants' counsel made an entry of appearance and the judgment was vacated. Appellee filed a motion for summary judgment. Appellee claimed in its motion for summary judgment that it was the holder of the note and mortgage, and that Appellants had been in constant default since the July 1, 2009, installment payment was due. Appellants filed an objection to Appellee's motion for summary judgment and later filed a supplement to the objection. Appellants challenged certain comments in Wells Fargo's motion to substitute which stated Wells Fargo subsequently assigned its rights under the mortgage to Appellee after the filing of the original petition. Appellants assert the note provided by Appellee does not have an indorsement and they claim such indorsement is necessary under the Uniform Commercial Code. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that Appellee did not have the proper supporting ducomentation in hand when it filed its foreclosure suit. Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "U.S. Bank, NA v. Alexander" on Justia Law

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Appellants Cindy and Theron Tacker appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of NTex Realty, LP. In 2007, Appellants executed a promissory note payable to Home Funds Direct, Inc. Appellants executed a mortgage and delivered it to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) as nominee for Home Funds. Appellants defaulted on the note in 2010, and NTex initiated foreclosure proceedings against them several months later. In their answer, Appellants denied that Appellee owned any interest in the Note and Mortgage, and challenged the authenticity of the documents included in the petition. Appellants then demanded production of the original Note and Mortgage. Appellee moved for summary judgment. In an attached affidavit, Appellee asserted that it currently held both the Note and Mortgage at issue, and again produced a copy of both the unindorsed Note and Mortgage. In response, Appellants argued that Appellee's motion for summary judgment was improper because the Note had never been negotiated. Appellants also asserted that because the copy of the Note was purportedly a "full, true, and correct copy of said Note," the original must also not be indorsed. Based on these reasons, Appellants concluded Appellee could not be the holder of the Note and, therefore, was not the proper party to bring a foreclosure proceeding. Appellee thereafter moved the district court by supplement to its motion, to view the original Note and Mortgage at the hearing for summary judgment. The supplemented motion incorporated an undated allonge, which transferred the Note from Lender to Appellee. The allonge was not included in the original petition for foreclosure. The motion also included a document entitled "Assignment of Mortgage," which transferred the "described mortgage together with the certain note(s) described therein," to Appellee from MERS. The Assignment was acknowledged on November 19, 2009, and recorded by the County Clerk of Rogers County, Oklahoma, on June 8, 2011. The district court granted Appellee's Motion for Summary Judgment and entered an order for the sale of the real property located in Rogers County, Oklahoma. The Appellants now appeal the trial court's order granting summary judgment, arguing NTex Realty, LP, failed to demonstrate standing. After review, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, finding that NTex indeed failed to show "if and when NTex became a person entitled to enforce the note." View "NTex Realty, LP v. Tacker" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-Appellees Guy and Midge Ledbetter sued Defendant-Appellant Derek Howard and his employer Radiology Services of Ardmore, Inc. for malpractice. Plaintiffs alleged that the doctor misread an x-ray which caused delayed treatment of his rapidly deteriorating left foot. A jury found in favor of Defendant. Plaintiffs moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial. The trial court denied the judgment but granted a new trial when evidence of juror misconduct surfaced. Defendants appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case. The foreperson assured the trial court in voir dire that she would not allow her expertise and experience to override the evidence presented at trial. Nevertheless, she not only did so on a personal level, but went further by communicating her alleged professional knowledge and experiences to her fellow jurors with the apparent intent to sway their votes in favor of Defendants. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that: (1) the juror's affidavit was admissible under the "extraneous prejudicial information" exception to 12 O.S. 2011 sec. 2606(B); and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering a new trial for juror misconduct during deliberations. View "Ledbetter v. Howard" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court concerned a petition for rehearing a prior Supreme Court order that granted Appellee's motion to dismiss the appeal because of an untimely filed petition in error. Appellants' Appletree Enterprise, Inc.'s Petition in Error was filed January 4, 2012, and Appellee Whitehall Homeowners Association, Inc. filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing that the Journal Entry was filed in the District Court on December 2, 2011 and mailed to Appellants' counsel on that date. Appellee argued that the Journal Entry was mailed within three days as required by 12 O.S.2011 Sections 696.2 and 990A(A), and that the date for Appellants to bring an appeal commenced on December 2, 2011. Appellee argued on rehearing that predecisional orders are not subject to rehearing. Further, Appellee argued that the Supreme Court's dismissal order was one of those predecisional orders and thus not subject to a petition for rehearing. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded Appellee's argument was incorrect. The Court concluded that noncompliance with 990A (A) results in a time to commence the appeal starting when Appellants received actual notice. Appellants' petition in error was timely filed. The motion to dismiss filed by Appellee, Whitehall Homeowners Association, Inc., based upon allegations of untimely filing of the petition in error, was denied with prejudice to its reconsideration or renewal in this appeal. View "Whitehall Homeowners Ass'n, Inc. v. Appletree Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted certiorari to address the first-impression question of whether a bail bondsman's failure to timely pay the order and judgment of forfeiture within ninety-one (91) days after receipt of notice prevents the bondsman from seeking remitter of forfeiture proceeds after returning Defendant to custody pursuant to section 1332(D)(2). Here, the bondsman paid the judgment of forfeiture on the ninety-second day after receipt of notice of forfeiture. The trial judge conducted a hearing at which she granted the bondsman's motion for remitter, ordered return of the money deposited and vacated the order and judgment of forfeiture. The State appealed and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court. The Supreme Court answered in the affirmative: the deposit of the face amount of the bond by the ninety-first day after notice of forfeiture, as required by 59 O.S. Supp. 2008 sec. 1332(D)(1) is a condition precedent to seeking the relief of remitter provided by section 1332 (D)(2). View "Oklahoma v. Tate" on Justia Law