Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Oklahoma Supreme Court
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Oklahoma Department of Corrections inmate Sonny Lauren Harmon brought an action against three employees of the John Lilley Correctional Center, Paul Cradduck, Warden Glynn Booher, and Alice Turner, following the seizure and alleged conversion of a gold wedding ring. The District Court of Oklahoma County entered summary judgment on behalf of each defendant. Harmon appealed the decision. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court's ruling, and the Supreme Court granted certiorari to review whether summary judgment was supported by the record. After reviewing the record, the Court found that the settled-law-of-the-case-doctrine precluded reconsideration of Harmon's compliance with administrative exhaustion requirements, and it was error to hold otherwise. In addition, the existence of a factual dispute mandated the Court's reversal of summary judgment in favor of defendant Paul Cradduck on Harmon's conversion claim. However, the Court concluded the district court properly awarded summary judgment to each of the defendants for any claim brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Further, any claims based on the purported tortious conduct of Booher and Turner were properly disposed of by the trial judge and COCA. View "Harmon v. Cradduck" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant, Mary Roshawn Jones was a full-time classified employee of Defendant-Appellee Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA), working at the L.E. Rader Center (Center). Plaintiff was bitten by a spider while at work. She sought medical treatment for the spider bite at the Center. A Center nurse informed Plaintiff she would have to seek a drug test in connection with its "Review of Job-Related Accidental Injury or Illness." The OJA alleged that they repeatedly tried to get Plaintiff to complete paperwork relating to her injury. The OJA also alleged that Plaintiff's delay in completing the paperwork resulted in the delay in requesting the drug test. Plaintiff alleged that the reason for the required drug test was a series of harassing and threatening calls to the Center by a former boyfriend. Plaintiff was ultimately discharged. She filed no administrative appeal from the discharge but filed a civil case, seeking compensatory and punitive damages and lost wages, or in the alternative, restoration to employment. The issue of first impression before the Supreme Court was whether the provisions of the Oklahoma Standards for Drug and Alcohol Testing Act (SWDATA) permitted a classified state employee to file an action in district court prior to the exhaustion of administrative remedies. Upon review, the Court held that SWDATA provides an independent cause of action which authorizes a classified state employee to file an action in the district court for a willful violation of the act without first exhausting the employee's administrative remedies.

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Plaintiff Camran Durham appealed a grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant McDonaldâs Restaurants of Oklahoma, Inc. Plaintiff alleged that his supervising manager denied his three requests to take prescription anti-seizure medication, and called plaintiff a âf***ing retard.â Plaintiff stated he was sixteen years old at the time, and that the managerâs refusals caused him to fear he would suffer a seizure. Plaintiff sued for âintentional infliction of emotional distress.â Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the managerâs conduct did not rise to the level of âextreme and outrageousâ conduct in order for Plaintiff to succeed on his claim. The trial court agreed, and ruled in favor of Defendant. The appellate court reversed the trial court, holding that there was a âsubstantial controversyâ on whether conduct like the managerâs and Plaintiffâs subsequent reaction was âextreme emotional distress.â Upon review, the Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court. The Court found that the trial court improperly granted summary judgment to Defendant, and remanded the case for further proceedings.