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Monthly Archives: April 2019

Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Damage Cap Statute

Apr 26, 2019 - Court Decisions by

In a recent case, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down an Oklahoma statute that attempted to limit or cap “non-economic damages” at $350,000.  The statute, 23 O.S. §61.2, was enacted in 2011.  In Beason v. I.E. Miller Services, Inc., 2019 OK 28, the plaintiff was injured after a boom from a crane fell and hit him.  As a result of the incident, he underwent two amputations on parts of his arm.  He sued the operator of the crane, and was awarded $14,000,000.  His wife was awarded $1,000,000 on her loss of consortium claim. The jury determined that $5,000,000 of the $14,000,000 was non-economic damages.  The trial judge determined that all of the wife’s damages were non-economic in nature.  The damage cap was applied to the non-economic damages, and a total judgment of $9,700,000 was entered. The plaintiffs appealed the trial court’s reduction of the jury verdict.  The Supreme Court, after retaining the appeal for nearly three (3) years, determined that the damage cap violated Oklahoma’s prohibition on “special laws.”  The Court stated that Article 5, Section 46 of the Oklahoma Constitutional “requires uniformity of treatment when like-situated litigants arrive at the courthouse door:  “[C]ourt procedure [must] be symmetrical and apply equally across the board for an entire class of similarly situated persons or things.”  The Court found that the law was impermissibly “special” because it limited “pain and suffering” damages when the plaintiff survived the ”injury causing event,” but did not limit such damages in cases of “wrongful death.”  The […]

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