Thursday, July 26, 2018

New decision on attorney lien enforcement

In a new decision addressing attorney charging liens, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals held that a counterclaim for malpractice against the attorney seeking to enforce the lien was not a compulsory counterclaim in the proceeding to enforce the lien, and therefore was properly dismissed. 

Also, because the enforcement of the lien was equitable in nature, it was within the jurisdiction of the assigned Special Judge notwithstanding the limitations on the jurisdiction of special judges.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Judgment reversed where counsel was late for trial

The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals reversed a small claims court judgment where defendant's counsel was late for court due to a clerical error on counsel's calendar, even though counsel had not yet entered an appearance, but where counsel had contacted the court, and his client advised the court that her attorney was late.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

New fee shifting decision

Debtor who paid off debt after collection lawsuit was filed but before a judgment was entered avoided an attorney fee award under 12 OS 936.  (But, watch for contractual fee-shifting provisions.)

"This Court has said before that 'without some judgment or judicial decree that has changed the relationship between the parties so that defendant is judicially required to do something, i.e., some enforceable judgment, plaintiffs cannot be said to be the successful or prevailing parties entitled to an award of attorney fees.' Moreover, we have said that, on a claim in which damages are a necessary element, a plaintiff cannot be said to have prevailed on that claim unless he or she has been awarded some modicum of monetary relief."

Friday, February 9, 2018

Legislative update, 2018 Oklahoma session

Here are quick updates on Title 12 bills before the Oklahoma legislature:
  1. SB1550 would appear to create a new procedure for attacking a judgment based on evidence not previously presented or heard by the court.  The new statute would be added to the Oklahoma Evidence Code.  It contains no limitations period.  It makes no requirement that the evidence be "new" in the manner currently contemplated.  This bill runs the risk of disrupting the finality of judgments in Oklahoma.  On the other hand, a court interpreting this statute, if enacted, by treat it as purely procedural and require that it be interpreted consistently with existing statutes and common law regarding "new evidence" and applicable statutes of limitations.  Sen. Anthony Sykes is the author.  The bill is assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  2. SB968 would amend 12 O.S. 2008 by moving us toward more specific pleading requirements.  Among other things, the bill would strike Section 2008(E)(1), which requires that pleadings be simple, concise, and direct.  More importantly, Section 2008(A)(1) would be amended to require particularized pleading of all material facts creating a reasonable inference that the claimant is entitled to relief.  If a party pleads a fact based upon belief, the party would be required to particularly plead all facts upon which the belief is based.  Sen. Julie Daniels is the author.  The bill is assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  3. HB3482 would amend 12 O.S. 696.4, which provides procedure for recovery of attorney fees and costs, by adding a substantive right for the State of Oklahoma to recover attorney fees and costs in any action in which it is the prevailing party.  The bill's author is Rep. John Jordan.  The bill is referred to the House Rules Committee.
  4. HB2766 would amend 12 O.S. 759, 762, and 769 would allow the appraiser upon execution of a judgment to be a disinterested legal entity rather than three individuals.  The bill would also allow bids at Sheriff sales to take place electronically.  Rep. Scott McEachin is the author.  The bill is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
  5. HB2863 would amend 12 O.S. 667, dealing with legislative continuances.  This bill would allow the legislator who is either a party or counsel of record to request the continuance by telephone, electronically, or by facsimile no later than one day before the event to be continued.  Additional requirements are imposed, such as filing a motion two weeks later, and requiring the continued hearing to occur at least ten days after the legislative session ends.  Rep. Jason Lowe is the author.  The bill is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
  6. HB2871 would create a new procedure for real property owned by one but not both spouses, and which property is not the other spouse's homestead.  The owner spouse can initiate an action requesting the court to judicially determine that the property is not, or was not, the other spouse's homestead.  This would be intended to allow cures to title defects based on the other spouse's failure or refusal to join a deed on property that that spouse holds no homestead interest.  The cure would be available for up to ten years after the conveyance.  Rep. Scott McEachin is the author.  The bill is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
  7. HB3281 would amend 12 O.S. 1148.5A, dealing with forcible entry and detainer (FED).  The amendment would allow the landlord to later seek damages for rent and other monetary relief if the court in the FED action renders solely judgment for possession.  Rep. Chris Kannady is the author.  The bill is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
  8. SB1299 would amend 12 O.S. 3234 to impose the same requirement added in one of the two competing versions adopted last session, dealing with the timing of requests for production or entry upon land (RFP).  More specifically, the RFP could be served only (i) after an answer is filed or (ii) upon leave of court if no answer is filed.  Title was stricken in the Senate Judiciary Committee, meaning that the bill would be re-heard by the Senate if approved by the Senate and then approved by the House.  This indicates that amendments are anticipated at some point in the process.  We might see more amendments designed to either conform the two competing versions passed last year or impose additional amendments to the statute.  Rep. John Sparks is the author.  As noted above, title was stricken by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but otherwise the bill received a do-pass from that committee.
  9. SB1503 would amend 12 O.S. 2015 to give the party responding to an amended pleading twenty days to respond, rather than the ten days provided in the statute.  Rep. John Sparks is the author.  The bill is assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.