Dispositions Other Than By Published Opinion | Feb. 15, 2023

Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Division I

120,207 – Bela Steven Csaki and Jennifer Lynn McMahon, Plaintiffs/Appellees, v. Callie Oil Company, LLC, an Oklahoma limited liability company; Rory Jett, an individual Valley Petrol Consulting, Inc., a Texas corporation; and Jeff Schuckers, an individual, Defendants/Appellants.Defendants/Appellants Callie Oil Company, LLC, Rory Jett, Valley Petrol Consulting, Inc., and Jeff Schuckers (collectively, Defendants) appeal from the trial court’s order denying their application for attorney fees for oppressive and bad faith litigation conduct by Plaintiffs/Appellees Bela Steven Csaki and Jennifer Lynn McMahon (collectively, Plaintiffs).  The trial court suspended the hearing on fees due to its expressed unfamiliarity with long-standing precedent on the inherent equitable authority to award fees in the absence of a statute. The trial court assured the parties the hearing would be continued after further briefing. Instead, the court issued an order denying fees without completing the hearing.  This sequence of events shows an abuse of discretion. We reverse and remand with directions to complete the hearing on Defendants’ application for fees.  Opinion by SWINTON, J.; GOREE, P.J., concurs and DOWNING, J., concurs in result. February 9, 2023

120,605 – Kurt Joseph Arnold, Plaintiff/Appellant, v. Nordic Realty, LLC, an Arizona Limited Liability Company; Brain Koziol, individually and as a member of Nordic Realty, LLC; Interim Mortgage Solutions, LLC, an Oklahoma Limited Liability Company; Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, an Oklahoma Corporation; Sherri Parker-Evans, Defendants/Appellees. Appeal from the District Court of McClain County, Oklahoma.  Honorable Leah Edwards, Trial Judge.  In this matter, the trial court granted two different motions for partial summary judgment in favor of Defendants Nordic Realty, LLC and Brian Koziol against Plaintiff, Kurt Joseph Arnold [Arnold] on his action to quiet title and foreclosure of his mechanics and materialman’s lien on real property located in McClain County, Oklahoma. We affirm.  Opinion by GOREE, P.J.; SWINTON, J., and DOWNING, J., concurs. February 9, 2023

Division II

Division III

119,905 – First Trinity Financial Corporation, an Oklahoma Corporation, and Gregg Zahn, an individual, Plaintiffs/Appellants/Counter-Appellees, v. Wayne Pettigrew, an individual, and Vanguard Benefits Group, LLC, a Limited Liability Company, Defendants/Appellees/Counter-Appellants. Appeal from the District Court of Tulsa County, Oklahoma.  Honorable William J. Musseman, Trial Judge. In the underlying case, Plaintiffs/Appellants/Counter‑Appellees, First Trinity Financial Corporation (FTFC) and Gregg Zahn, successfully sued Defendant/ Appellee/Counter‑Appellant, Wayne Pettigrew and his insurance business, Group and Pension Planners, Inc., and were awarded $4.3 million dollars in damages.  Pettigrew and his company appealed without posting a supersedeas bond.  Plaintiffs then began collections and secured the appointment of a receiver to marshal and account for the assets of Pettigrew and his newly formed insurance business, Defendant/Appellee/Counter‑Appellant Vanguard Benefits Group, LLC (Vanguard).  In First Trinity Fin. Corp. v. Pettigrew, Case No. 116,063 (Okla.Civ. App. Feb. 28, 2020) (unpublished), Division III of this Court reversed the underlying judgment and remanded for a new trial.  Thereafter, the trial court ordered Plaintiffs to return all funds collected from Pettigrew and Vanguard (hereafter Defendants) during the pendency of the appeal and to pay nearly $78,000.00 for the fees and costs of the receiver.  Plaintiffs now appeal that portion of the trial court’s order directing them to pay for the receiver.  Defendants counter‑appeal the trial court’s denial (1) of their request for interest on the amounts Plaintiffs collected from Defendants during the now‑reversed appeal and (2) by declining to sanction Plaintiffs.  AFFIRMED. Opinion by BELL, J.; MITCHELL, C.J., and PRINCE, P.J., concur. February 10, 2023

119,912 – Bart Boeckman, LLC, Plaintiff/Appellee, V. Brandon Cox d/b/a BC Construction and Bollenbach Concrete, Inc., Defendants, and Ed Strate, Defendant/Appellant. Appeal from the District Court of Kingfisher County, Oklahoma.  Honorable Paul K. Woodward, Trial Judge. In the underlying contract action, the trial court granted summary judgment to Defendant/Appellant, Ed Strate, against Plaintiff/Appellee, Bart A. Boeckman, LLC (Boeckman).  While Plaintiff’s appeal was pending, the trial court issued an order awarding costs but denying attorney fees to Strate.  Following the entry of said order, this Court reversed and remanded the underlying summary judgment in companion case Bart A. Boeckman, LLC v. Cox, Case No. 119,656 (Okla. Civ. App. Apr. 12, 2022) (unpublished).  Strate now appeals the trial court’s order denying attorney fees.  Because the underlying judgment was reversed, Strate is ineligible for prevailing party attorney fees.  AFFIRMED. Opinion by BELL, J.; MITCHELL, C.J., and PRINCE, P.J., concur. February 10, 2023

120,565 – Cherise Maddox, Plaintiff/Appellant, V. Progressive Marathon Insurance Company, Defendant/Appellee. Appeal from the District Court of Tulsa County, Oklahoma.  Honorable Rebecca B. Nightingale, Trial Judge. Plaintiff/Appellant Cherise Maddox, (“Maddox”) a resident of Michigan, was injured in a vehicle collision in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Maddox, a passenger in a vehicle driven by her brother, Justin Maddox, sued the driver of the other vehicle and sought damages for her medical expenses and injuries.  She also brought claims against her insurer, Defendant/Appellee Progressive Marathon Insurance Company, for failure to properly value and pay her UN/UIM claim and for bad faith.  Progressive Marathon, a Michigan company, moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.  The trial court granted the motion.  We AFFIRM the decision of the trial court on the basis that a territory‑of‑coverage provision in an insurance contract, which includes coverage for accidents occurring within Oklahoma, in and of itself, does not constitute sufficient minimum contacts to establish in personam jurisdiction in a first‑party dispute between an insurance carrier and its insured. Opinion by PRINCE, P.J.; MITCHELL, C.J., and BELL, J., concur. February 10, 2023

120,310 – In the Matter of: D.C., S.D., Children Adjudicated to be Deprived, Misty Carpenter, Natural Mother, Respondent/Appellant, V. The State of Oklahoma, Petitioner/Appellee. Appeal from the District Court of Tulsa County, Oklahoma. Mother’s parental rights were terminated following a jury trial.  They were terminated on the statutory ground that Mother failed to correct, pursuant to 10A O.S. §1‑4‑904(B)(5), the conditions of possessing and using illegal drugs, addiction, educational neglect of the Children, neglect, failure to maintain a safe and/or sanitary home, homelessness/failure to maintain adequate housing, threat of harm and general neglect.  On appeal Mother claims her due process rights were violated in that the COVID‑19 pandemic impacted Mother’s access to services, caused large delays in getting to trial, and created a lack of notice due to abbreviated COVID‑19 procedures.  Any delays, however, worked in Mother’s favor by giving her as much as six months to correct conditions, rather than the statutorily allowed three months.  It does not appear from the record that Mother even attempted to participate in services or work the individualized service plan.  The termination was based on clear and convincing evidence and no error was shown.  Honorable Theresa Dreiling, Trial Judge. Opinion by MITCHELL, C.J.; PRINCE, P.J., and BELL, J., concur. February 13, 2023

Division IV