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Notice to Oklahoma landlords: The door to residential evictions is now open

Eviction notice graphicBy Ashley M. Schovanec

For the past seventeen months, many Oklahoma landlords were prevented from evicting tenants for the nonpayment of rent due to various federal eviction moratoriums. Thanks to a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the latest eviction moratorium has now been declared unlawful and landlords are free to move forward with evictions based on the nonpayment of rent.

Attorney Ashley Schovanec Web

Ashley M. Schovanec is a litigation attorney who represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters.

Congress initially declared a moratorium on evictions at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. Following the lapse of the first moratorium in July 2020, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) imposed a series of the CDC’s own nationwide eviction moratoriums. As authority to promulgate the moratorium, the CDC relied on §361(a) of the Public Health Service Act, which is a statute originally passed in 1944 and a provision that has rarely been invoked except in the context of quarantining infected individuals and prohibiting the import or sale of animals known to transmit disease. The stated purpose of the CDC’s halt on residential evictions was to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The justification was that housing stability helps protect public health in that homelessness increases the likelihood of individuals moving into congregate settings, such as homeless shelters.

The CDC’s moratoriums applied to only certain evictions – those based on the nonpayment of rent. In order for a tenant to invoke the protections provided by the CDC, a tenant was required to provide the landlord with a CDC declaration form affirming that tenant was in financial need as a result of the pandemic. The last CDC moratorium expired on July 31, 2021. Thereafter, the Biden administration implemented yet another moratorium, which was set to expire on October 3, 2021 but was derailed by the U.S. Supreme Court on August 26, 2021.

In Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services et al., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the CDC exceeded its authority in imposing nationwide eviction moratoriums. The per curium opinion criticized the CDC’s reliance “on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination” and found that “[i]t strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.” The Supreme Court concluded its opinion, “[i]f a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it.”

Now that the Supreme Court has declared unlawful the latest nationwide eviction moratorium, it is up to states and localities to impose eviction restrictions. New York, California and the city of Boston have imposed restrictions of their own to protect renters from eviction. As of now, there are no eviction constraints in the state of Oklahoma. This means the door is now open for Oklahoma landlords to file evictions to remove tenants who were previously shielded by the federal eviction moratoriums. Landlords may now file suit against tenants to collect past due rent, including all unpaid rent payments that accumulated during the federal eviction moratoriums.


The impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Alabama Association of Realtors is significant for both landlords and tenants. If you are a landlord or tenant seeking guidance in navigating evictions in light of recent changes to the law, please call 405-552-2470 or email Ashley M. Schovanec.

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State Lawmaker considers damages caps on civil lawsuits

Ashley M. Schovanec, Phillips Murrah Litigation Attorney, was quoted in a Journal Record article by Steve Metzer regarding the decision by Chris Kannady, chairman of the Oklahoma House Judiciary Committee, to consider a legislative compromise to a ruling that made caps on certain damages in civil lawsuits unconstitutional.

Attorney Ashley Schovanec Web

Ashley M. Schovanec is a litigation attorney who represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters.

Read Schovanec’s comments below:

Ashley M. Schovanec, a litigation attorney with the firm of Phillips Murrah, said another result of the Supreme Court’s decision might be that businesses will be more likely to settle lawsuits than contest them on legal grounds,

Because the risk of large verdicts just went up, cases may settle earlier because of the uncertainty associated with leaving a damages calculation up to a jury,” she said.

Read the full article from the Journal Record.

Phillips Murrah attorneys team up to win big at annual chili cook-off

Phillips Murrah chili team

Phillips Murrah’s chili cook-off team celebrates another successful year.

The new year signals a new race to claim a trophy at the annual Oklahoma County Bar Association Chili Cook-Off.

Phillips Murrah attorneys competed in teams against local law firms in OCBA’s Young Lawyers Division to show off their chili-making prowess Jan. 25 at Twisted Spike Brewing Co.

Representing Phillips Murrah were attorneys Hilary Hudson Clifton, Cody J. Cooper, C. Eric DavisTravis E. Harrison, Mark E. Hornbeek, Martin J. Lopez IIISamuel D. Newton, Morgen D. PottsAshley M. Schovanec, and Monica Y. Ybarra.

The competition formally kicks off the YLD’s year-long commitment to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, raising funds and awareness within the community to support the mission of the Regional Food Bank and the Oklahomans who rely on its services.

Attorneys Travis Harrison, Mark Hornbeek, and Ashley Schovanec

Attorneys Travis Harrison, Mark Hornbeek, and Ashley Schovanec get festive for the annual chili cook-off.

“This year’s chili cook-off was a huge success for the OCBA YLD and its year-round fundraising efforts for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma,” Clifton said. “It’s always a fun event with a great turn-out, and this year Phillips Murrah definitely showed up.”

Teams were judged in different categories including Best Overall, Traditional, Non-Traditional, and Hottest Chilis.

“In addition to having two serious chili contenders, Ashley Schovanec brought a smorgasbord of sides and toppings, Mark Hornbeek kept it festive with a light-up chile necklace, and we had an awesome turnout of other associates there wearing PM aprons and talking up our entries,” Clifton said. “It seems like our team gets bigger and more enthusiastic every year, which is awesome, because it’s a really fun event for a great cause.”

Potts won the Best Non-Traditional Chili category on behalf of Phillips Murrah’s teams at this year’s cook-off with her and her husband’s recipe which includes elk, deer, chorizo, coffee, molasses, and different types of peppers.

Attorney Morgen Potts and her husband John

Attorney Morgen Potts and her husband John hold their trophy for Best Non-Traditional Chili.

“The chili was inspired by all the hunting trips my husband and my brother-in-law take together,” Potts said. “The unique flavors of the different types of wild game combined with coffee and molasses always make their long days of hunting worth it.”

Phillips Murrah has had at least one team compete in the Chili Cook-Off each year since it first started more than ten years ago.

Cooper and Ybarra currently serve on OCBA’s Board of Directors.

For more information on the OCBA and the Young Lawyers Division, click here.

Phillips Murrah attorneys volunteer for Cavett Kids Foundation

Monica Y. Ybarra, OCBA Community Service Committee Vice Chair, with attorney Ashley Schovanec

Attorney Monica Y. Ybarra, OCBA Community Service Committee Vice Chair, with attorney Ashley Schovanec.

Phillips Murrah attorneys Nicholle Jones Edwards, Kayce L. Gisinger, Monica Y. Ybarra, and Ashley M. Schovanec were on site at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center on July 6 to lend a helping hand to the children heading to Camp Cavett.

“Monica, who is on the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Community Service Committee, let the Phillips Murrah attorneys know that volunteers were needed to help with the Camp Cavett camp check-in,” Schovanec said. “On Wednesday morning, Nikki, Monica, Kayce and I helped do things like pass out camp T-shirts, help with luggage, and pass out luggage tags to help the camp check-in process go smoothly.”

Chance Pearson, OCBA Community Service Committee Chair, with Director Nicholle Jones Edwards, Jenna and Claudette Greenway, Cavett Kids Board Member.

Chance Pearson, OCBA Community Service Committee Chair, with Director Nicholle Jones Edwards, Jenna and Claudette Greenway, Cavett Kids Board Member.

The Cavett Kids Foundation serves hundreds of children with various life-threatening and chronic illnesses every year.

“Among other things, the Cavett Foundation provides a unique summer camp experience that meets the medical needs of its campers without distracting from the fun of summer camp,” Ybarra said.

Phillips Murrah attorneys, along with other volunteers from the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Community Service Committee, assisted campers and their families through the check-in process and saw the kids off to camp.

“Just because a child suffers from a life-threatening or chronic illness doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the opportunity to go to summer camp,” Schovanec said. “What a heartwarming sight it was to see the look on each of the kids’ faces as they walked (or ran) to the summer camp check-in stations.”

To learn how to get involved and volunteer with Cavett Kids, click here.

Phillips Murrah welcomes two new attorneys

EKH AMS cutout

Erica K. Halley and Ashley M. Schovanec have joined the firm as associate attorneys.

Erica K. Halley has joined Phillips Murrah’s Transactional Practice Group as an associate attorney.

Halley represents individuals and businesses in a broad range of transactional matters.

Phillips Murrah also welcomed Ashley M. Schovanec to the firm’s Litigation Practice Group as an associate attorney.

Schovanec represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters.

Halley and Schovanec are recent graduates of the University of Oklahoma School of Law.