Dispositions Other than by Published Opinions | May 12 | Courts and More

May 11, 2021

Courts and More Vol. 1 | No. 19 | May 12, 2021

Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Division I

118,805 – Edna Johnico, Mildred L. King, Louis Johnico, Karen R. Moctezuma, Rhonda K. Esquivel, and Sherri L. Foley, Plaintiffs/Appellees, v. Jerry D. Hall, Defendant/Appellant.  Appeal from the District Court of Pushmataha County, Oklahoma.  Honorable Michael D. DeBerry, Trial Judge.A Petition to Partition land was filed by the Plaintiffs/Appellees (“Appellees”), seeking a determination that they owned a one-half undivided fee simple interest in two Lots located in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, and that the Defendant/Appellant, Jerry D. Hall (“Appellant”), owned the other one-half undivided interest.  Appellant counterclaimed, asserting that his grandfather purchased 100% of the land through two separate tax sales, that he is a successor in interest of his grandfather, and, based thereon, Appellant arguably owns 100% of the property.  Appellant also claimed ownership via adverse possession.  Appellees disputed the claim of adverse possession and asserted that one of the tax sales was invalid because said tax sale violated the restrictions on the alienation of Indian Land. We affirm the decision of the trial court, finding that Appellees and Appellant are co-tenants of the property, owning one-half undivided fee simple interests in the property, and awarding the relief of partition.  As a result, we AFFIRM the final judgment of the trial court.  Opinion PRINCE, J.; GOREE, P.J., and MITCHELL, J., concur. May 6, 2021

118,506  – Bruce Belmear, Plaintiff/Appellee, James Ladwig, and James Ladwig d/b/a Ladwig Constriction, Defendants/Appellants.  Appeal from the District Court of Grant County, Oklahoma.  Honorable Jack D. Hammontree, Trial Judge.  This appeal arises out of an action by Bruce Belmear (“Appellee”) against James Ladwig, and James Ladwig d/b/a Ladwig Construction (collectively the “Appellants”), for breach of contract, breach of the implied warranty of habitability, breach of warranty, and for negligence in the construction of Appellee’s residence.  Several months after litigation began, this cause was ordered to, and resolved by, an arbitration proceeding.  Neither the enforceability of the arbitration clause, nor the underlying arbitration award, are at issue in this appeal.  This appeal instead concerns several procedural matters, including a pre-arbitration discovery sanction and the trial court’s imposition, and calculation, of post-judgment interest on the discovery sanction and subsequent arbitration award. While Appellants’ briefing sets forth several propositions of error, we find Appellants presented just one overarching question for review: whether the trial court’s handling of this case, from petition to post-arbitration conclusion, exhibited legal error or an abuse of discretion.  After review, we find, in part, that it did and, accordingly, affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand this action for proceedings consistent with this Opinion.  Opinion by PRINCE, J.; GOREE, P.J., and MITCHELL, J., concur. May 6, 2021

118,673  – Carlisa Aytch, as an individual, and as the parent of C.L., and Karissa Aytch, as an individual, Plaintiffs/Appellants, v. Michael Ruiz, Defendant/Appellee.  Appeal from the District Court of Tulsa County, Oklahoma.  Honorable Doug Drummond, Judge.  This appeal involves a three-car fender bender.  The plaintiffs, all members of the same family, were stopped at a traffic light.  Carlisa Aytch was driving, and her two daughters, ages 18 and 14 at the time, were passengers.  The light was flashing red, indicating that it was to be treated as a four-way stop.  The Aytchs’ car inched forward as each car took its turn in front of them.  Immediately behind the Aytchs was Maria Garrell, who was also stopped at the light.  The defendant and appellant, Michael Ruiz, rear-ended Ms. Garell’s car.  The force of that impact propelled Ms. Garrell’s car forward and into the Aytchs’ car.  The accident appeared to be minor, and the parties pulled into a nearby gas station and exchanged information.  At the time, no one claimed or appeared to be injured, though there was damage to both the Aytchs’ and Ms. Garrell’s vehicles.  AFFIRMED.  Opinion by MITCHELL, J.; GOREE, P.J., and PRINCE, J., concur. May 6, 2021

Division II

118,798 — Clement Jackson, Plaintiff/Appellant, vs. Veldine Hill, Defendant/ Appellee.  Appeal from orders of the District Court of Oklahoma County, Hon. Thomas Prince, Trial Judge, denying Clement Jackson’s motion for new trial, granting judgment in favor of Veldine Hill on her counterclaim, granting Hill a landlord’s lien on Jackson’s property in her possession, denying Jackson’s replevin claim, and awarding Hill attorney fees.  We see no error in the trial court’s transfer of the case from the small claims docket or in its entry of judgment against Jackson for past due rent.  However, Jackson’s motion for new trial as to his replevin claim should have been granted for the reasons given, and its denial was an abuse of discretion.  Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part and remand for further proceedings consistent with our Opinion on his replevin claim and the issue of the parties’ attorney fees and costs.  AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS.  Opinion from the Court of Civil Appeals, Division II, by WISEMAN, P.J.; BARNES, J., and RAPP, J. (sitting by designation), concur.  May 10, 2021

Division III

119,226  –  Keith Roberts and Anne Roberts, Plaintiffs/Appellees, v. RBCH, LLC, an Oklahoma Limited Liability Company, and Randy Branstetter, an Individual, Defendants/Appellants.  Appeal from the District Court of Tulsa County, Oklahoma.  Honorable Rebecca Nightingale, Trial Judge.  Defendants/Appellants RBCH, LLC and Randy Branstetter seek reversal of the trial court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration in an action filed by Plaintiffs/Appellees Keith Roberts and Anne Roberts. The issue is whether the parties entered into a valid, enforceable agreement to arbitrate the Plaintiffs’ claims, all of which concern allegations that Defendants failed to properly construct and/or repair Plaintiffs’ home.  Defendants argue that the trial court improperly found the agreement was ambiguous, and that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to determine the validity of the contract.  We find that the trial court properly exercised jurisdiction under 12 O.S. § 1857 in determining that there was no agreement between the parties.   The court properly denied Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration, and the order is AFFIRMED.   Opinion by SWINTON, C.J.; BELL, J., concurs and PEMBERTON, P.J., dissents. May 5, 2021

Division IV

118,389 – Catherine Reynolds, Plaintiff/Appellee, vs. Patricia Rudder, Defendant/Appellant.  Appeal from an Order of the District Court of Comanche County, Hon. Grant Shepherd, Trial Judge.  The defendant, Patricia Rudder (Rudder), appeals a Small Claims Court judgment granting possession of real estate to the plaintiff, Catherine Reynolds (Reynolds).  The Supreme Court previously dismissed the companion case with this appeal, Rudder v. Comanche County et al., Case No. 118,038.  The Supreme Court issued the mandate in Case No. 118,038 on October 14, 2020.  Therefore, Case No. 118,038 is no longer before this Court for review.  Rudder’s present appeal is not supported by a Record or by legal authority.  Many of her issues do not state issues for appellate review.  After review of the Record and the parties’ briefs, this Court finds no error and affirms the judgment of the trial court.  AFFIRMED.  Opinion from Court of Civil Appeals, Division IV, by RAPP, J.; FISCHER, V.C.J., and HIXON, P.J., concur.  May 5, 2021

118,626 – State of Oklahoma ex rel. Department of Human Services, Petitioner/Appellee, vs. Sundai Ekokotu, a/k/a Sunny Tito Ekotutu, Respondent/Appellant, and Jewel M. Maten, Custodial Person/Appellee.  Appeal from an Order of the District Court of Oklahoma County, Hon. Sheila D. Stinson, Trial Judge.  The trial court respondent/appellant, Sundai Ekokotu, aka Sunny Tito Ekotutu (Ekokotu), appeals an Order denying his appeal from an administrative hearing before The State of Oklahoma, Department of Human Services (DHS), the trial court petitioner/appellee.  An additional party listed below is Jewel M. Maten (Maten).  Maten is the custodial person.  Maten has not appeared in this appeal.  Ekokotu appeals the trial court’s Order which denied his appeal from an Administrative Order entered by the Department of Human Services in 2008.  Ekokotu is subject to an Administrative Order entered in 2002 establishing his paternity, fixing child support, and assigning financial responsibility for genetic testing and reasonable expenses for providing for the child during the five year-period preceding the filing of the paternity action.  In 2008, a second Administrative Order was entered which accounted for payment, amounts past due and interest.  The 2002 judgment was brought current by the 2008 Order to reflect the amounts due at that time.  Ekokotu appealed the 2008 Order.  After it was dismissed for failure to prosecute, he succeeded in being able to renew his appeal.  He maintains: (1) there should be no interest because it was waived in the 2002 Order; (2) CSS went back further than five years in the 2002 Order; and (3) the 2008 Order is an unauthorized retroactive modification of the 2002 Order and entered after the child was emancipated.  The trial court rejected his claims.  The trial court did not err.  Ekokotu’s claims have no support in the facts, record or law.  The Order of the trial court is affirmed.  AFFIRMED.  Opinion from Court of Civil Appeals, Division IV, by RAPP, J.; FISCHER, V.C.J., and HIXON, P.J., concur.  May 5, 2021

119,193 — In the Marriage of:  Demosthenis Klonis, Petitioner/Appellant, vs. Demetra Caporal Klonis, Respondent/Appellee.  Appeal from the District Court of Oklahoma County, Hon. Martha F. Oakes, Trial Judge.  Demosthenis Klonis (“Husband”) appeals an order granting Demetra Caporal Klonis’ (“Wife”) motion to dismiss.  Husband alleges the trial court erred in granting Wife’s motion to dismiss, asserting the requirement of residency in Oklahoma is one of personal jurisdiction, not subject matter jurisdiction.  We disagree.  Oklahoma has long held the residency requirement in a divorce action is an issue of subject matter jurisdiction.  Furthermore, the record unmistakably provides that neither party was a resident of Oklahoma for six (6) consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the divorce petition as required by 43 O.S.2011, § 102.  The trial court therefore correctly dismissed Husband’s petition for dissolution of marriage for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and its order is affirmed.  AFFIRMED.  Opinion from Court of Civil Appeals, Division IV, by HIXON, P.J.; FISCHER, V.C.J., and RAPP, J., concur.   May 10, 2021

118,454 – Rodney Boerger, Plaintiff/Appellee, vs. Ghassan Automotive, d/b/a Ghassan Alneama, Defendant/Appellant.  Appeal from the District Court of Payne County, Hon. Katherine E. Thomas, Trial Judge.  Ghassan Alneama, d/b/a Ghassan Automotive, appeals a decision by the small claims court awarding Appellee Rodney Boerger $9,239.50 in a fraud case involving a replacement engine that later failed.  Small claims provides a less formal forum where a pro se plaintiff may litigate without having to navigate the normal rules of pleading and presentation.  However, Boerger specifically alleged and pursued a claim for fraud.  Neither the trial court’s findings nor the evidence suggest any other cause of action was plead or tried.  We find the basic legal elements of fraud were not shown.  We therefore reverse the decision of the trial court.  REVERSED.  Opinion from Court of Civil Appeals, Division IV, by HIXON, P.J.; FISCHER, V.C.J., concurs, and RAPP, J., dissents.  May 10, 2021

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