Articles Posted in Oklahoma Supreme Court

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The plaintiffs-respondents in this case sued hundreds of defendants, whom the plaintiffs asserted had served them mixed drinks over a period of several years prior to filing the lawsuit. The plaintiffs claimed that defendants had violated a tax statute, 37 O.S.2011, section 576(B)(2), that required a 13.5% tax on the gross receipts the holders of a license by the ABLE Commission for sale of a mixed beverage. They contended that the licensees who failed to combine the retail sale price with the tax in its advertised price had overcharged their customers by 13.5%. The defendants appealed the trial court's interpretation of the statute. The Oklahoma Supreme Court remanded these cases with orders to dismiss: "Although the briefs from the parties skillfully address other permutations of argument on both sides of this cause, we conclude that what we have chosen to address sufficiently resolves the main issue presented. The statute's ambiguities caused sufficient problems in collection of the tax that the Legislature amended the statute. We hold that the statute's purpose does not involve protecting consumers from having a tax separately listed from the price of a drink instead of including it in the price of a drink. Because the complaints of the plaintiffs against the defendants rest on the assumption that 37 O.S.2011, section 576(B)(2) protects consumers, and we have held that it is solely a tax statute." View "Truel v. Aguirre, LLC" on Justia Law

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Fifty-four individuals and business entities sued Appellants-Defendants Tyson Foods, Inc., Tyson Poultry, Inc., and Russell Adams (collectively, Tyson), in association with contracts under which they were to raise chickens owned by Tyson on feed supplied by the company. Tyson moved to sever the claims for separate trials. The trial judge denied the motion, allowing the plaintiffs to select eleven individuals and entities to proceed to trial under theories of violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act and fraud. The poultry growers contended that Tyson targeted them for failure by delivering unhealthy birds and feed in retaliation for their refusal to modernize operations. The jury, in a nine to three split, awarded the growers compensatory and punitive damages approaching $10 million. Alleging evidentiary errors and juror misconduct, Tyson filed a motion for new trial. The trial judge recused and the new trial motion was heard by an assigned judge. Acknowledging concerns about the conduct of the trial, the substitute judge denied the motions for new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict, staying further proceedings pending resolution of the appeal. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that: 1) where attorneys were advised that voir dire would be limited to questions not covered in the juror questionnaire and jurors gave incomplete, untruthful, and/or misleading answers in those documents, Appellants were entitled to a new trial; and 2) a poultry grower having no title to the chickens or feed placed with the grower for fattening and future marketing of the birds by the flock's owner is not an "aggrieved consumer" for purposes of the Consumer Protection Act. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "James v. Tyson Foods, Inc." on Justia Law