Dispositions Other than by Published Opinions | November 3

November 2, 2021

Courts and More Vol. 1 | No. 43 | November 3, 2021

Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Division I

119,024  –  National Holdings LLC d/b/a London Square Apartment, Plaintiff, v. Nekesha Richards, Defendant/Appellant.  Appeal from the District Court of Tulsa County, Oklahoma.  Honorable Deborrah Ludi Leitch, Judge.  Defendant/Appellant Nekesha Richards (Richards) appeals from the trial court’s denial of her unopposed motion to seal the court records from a forcible entry and detainer judgment entered against her in 2015.  The court denied the motion because it found Richards had no compelling privacy interest that outweighed the public’s interest in the records.  We find the court’s decision was not an abuse of discretion.  Because there are no reversible errors of law and the court’s order adequately explains its decision, we AFFIRM under Oklahoma Supreme Court Rule 1.202(d), 12 O.S. 2011, Ch. 15, App. 1.  Opinion by MITCHELL, J.; GOREE, P.J., and PRINCE, J., concur. October 28, 2021

119,843  –  Mack Financial Services, a division of VFS Us, LLC, Plaintiff/Appellee, v. D&S Materials, Inc.; D&S Oilfield Services, LLC; Dwight Loomis, an individual; Tena Loomis, an individual; and Kassi Shultz, an individual, Defendants/Appellants.  Appeal from the District Court of Garfield County, Oklahoma.  Honorable Dennis Hladik, Judge. Defendants/Appellants, D&S Materials Inc., D&S Oilfield Services, LLC; Dwight Loomis, an individual; Tena Loomis, an individual; and Kassi Shultz, an individual, appeal from summary adjudication in favor of Plaintiff/Appellee, Mack Financial Services, a division of VFS US, LLC, in Plaintiff’s suit for breach of contract, replevin, and for declaratory judgment.  Plaintiff is the owner and holder of seven credit sales contracts and security agreements in nine commercial vehicles executed between 2013 and 2015.  Defendants — the debtors and guarantors on the contracts — did not pay in accordance with the terms of the contracts and are in default.  After credit for all payments and offsets, the balance or deficiency due on the contracts was $225,095.84.  Opinion by MITCHELL, J.; GOREE, P.J., and PRINCE, J., concur. October 28, 2021

Division II

119,158 – Justin Thomas Brewer, Plaintiff/Appellant, vs. Whitney Lauren Watts, Defendant/Appellee.  Appeal from an Order of the District Court of Cleveland County, Hon. Lori M. Walkley, Trial Judge.  Justin Thomas Brewer (Father) appeals the trial court’s September 25, 2020 judgment awarding Whitney Lauren Watts (Mother) an attorney’s fee in the amount of $9,277.50.  Father does not challenge the amount or reasonableness of the award but argues Mother was not entitled to an award.  It is a firmly established rule that each litigant bears the cost of his or her legal representation, and courts are without authority to assess and award attorney fees in the absence of a specific statute or a specific contract therefor between the parties.  Boatman v. Boatman, 2017 OK 27, ¶ 16, 404 P.3d 822.  The trial court did not state the statutory basis for the fee award in its judgment.  However, Mother moved for fees under 43 O.S. Supp.2015, § 109.2 and 10 O.S.2011, § 7700-636.  We find neither of such statutes entitle Mother to fees in the present case. Mother also argues that we should consider the application of three other statutes:  43 O.S.2011, §§ 112(D)(2), 111.1(C)(3), and 43 O.S. Supp.2014 § 111.3(E).  We also find such provisions are inapplicable.  We therefore reverse the trial court’s September 25, 2020 judgment.  REVERSED.  Opinion from the Court of Civil Appeals Division II, by HIXON, P.J.; RAPP, J., concurs, and FISCHER, V.C.J., dissents.  November 1, 2021

Division III

Division IV

118,683 – In the Matter of the Adoption of L.A.E., a minor child.  Megan Kathleen Eichler, Petitioner/Appellant.  Appeal from Order of the District Court of Tulsa County, Hon. Kurt Glassco, Trial Judge.  Megan Kathleen Eichler (Stepmother) appeals the district court’s decision to vacate a decree granting her petition to adopt minor child LAE.  The district court vacated the decree, within thirty days of its entry, following a sua sponte inquiry and based on “perceived irregularities in the granting of the adoption.”  The district court expressed concern that the maternal grandparents’ pending petition seeking visitation of LAE had not been disclosed to the court and had not been resolved before the final decree of adoption was entered.  The district court stayed its vacation of the decree pending resolution of Stepmother’s appeal.  Grandparents’ verified petition, filed in the ongoing divorce court proceedings involving the natural parents of LAE, satisfied statutory pleading requirements and the threshold criteria for standing.  The allegations of the petition are sufficient to vest the district court with jurisdiction to examine the merits of Grandparents’ request for an order granting visitation.  Stepmother’s appellate arguments focus on the fact that she filed her petition to adopt LAE before Grandparents filed their visitation petition.  This “first-to-file” argument was rejected by Birtciel v. Jones, 2016 OK 103, 382 P.3d 1041.  The Court explained that “[i]f a grandparent has a vested right to seek visitation of her grandchild and followed the proper procedure to act on such right, a final decree of adoption granted before resolution of such a petition should not preclude the fruits of this right.  Id. ¶ 16.  Grandparents filed their petition for visitation before Stepmother filed her request for a best interests hearing and final decree of adoption.  Because vacation of the adoption decree has been stayed, Stepmother is the adoptive parent of LAE, subject to reconsideration of the adoption decree on remand.  On remand, the order staying vacation of the adoption decree shall remain in effect until such time as the relevant issues have been determined in the divorce action or Judge Glassco determines that a final decree of adoption should or should not be granted.  MODIFIED IN PART AND REMANDED FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS.  Opinion from Court of Civil Appeals, Division IV by FISCHER, V.C.J.; HIXON, P.J., and RAPP, J., concur.  October 29, 2021

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