Phillips Murrah shares personal stories about tribal memberships

PIF KGOU OILS graphicPhillips Murrah celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day in recognition of the contributions of the Indigenous communities that have lived in the United States for thousands of years. To commemorate the occasion, Phillips Murrah is supporting Oklahoma Indian Legal Services as its Pay It Forward beneficiary for the month of October.

In addition, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee invited members of the Phillips Murrah team who have Native American tribal affiliations to participate in a video interview to discuss what their ancestry and heritage mean to them.

Interviewees are Phillips Murrah Directors G. Calvin Sharpe and Kathy Terry; Associate Attorneys Phoebe Mitchell, Eric Davis and Molly Tipton; and Paralegal Donna Anderson.

Special thanks to Chickasaw classical composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate for allowing us to feature his music in the video.

Please enjoy the video by clicking the player below.


Sharpe shares Native heritage, legal experience in FDCC New Member Spotlight

Republished with permission from the Summer 2021 Edition of Federation Flyer


Calvin Sharpe Web pic

New Member Spotlight – G. Calvin Sharpe

The high caliber of new members being nominated, vetted and admitted to the Federation continue to deepen the broad diversity of our membership and enhance our brand. In this issue, we profile one of those who define our standard of being “above and beyond” in their personal life and in their profession. Please join us in welcoming and learning a bit more about one of our newest members; G. Calvin Sharpe, a Director with Phillips Murrah in Oklahoma City, OK. Contact “G. Calvin” at

Q:  G. Calvin, welcome as one of the FDCC’s newest members. Can you share a little with us about your educational and professional background?

A:  I am a life-long Sooner, having graduated from The University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1982 and from The University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1985. I joined Phillips Murrah in 2009 and am now a Director of the firm. For many years, I have been very involved in the Oklahoma Association of Defense Counsel and the Oklahoma County Bar Association, among other organizations. In 2005, I was honored to be admitted to the American Board of Trial Advocates, an invitation-only organization that, at the time, required members to have tried at least 20 civil jury trials as lead counsel. Throughout my career, I have tried 30+ jury cases.


Q:  What got you interested to specialize in medical malpractice, environmental and products liability defense work?

A:  I was always focused on a career in litigation and gravitated to the defense side early on. With a retired doctor as my father-in-law and many doctor friends, medical malpractice defense became an easy choice. Defense work is particularly enjoyable, as each matter is unique and interesting. I like focusing on the technical manufacturing details and medical aspects of products liability and medical malpractice cases. Over the years, I have learned much about the practice of medicine, including watching an open-heart bypass surgery in person, but some other interesting things as well, including how to make my own Taco Bell chicken quesadilla ( when representing them in a products liability and negligence case brought against them) and how a paper mill works (when representing a paper products company in a negligence case brought against them).


Q:  When your Nomination Form came in, we noticed you are also admitted to practice in the Seminole Nation and Cherokee Nation Tribal Courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Chickasaw Nation Tribal Court, and Osage Nation Tribal Court. Can you give us some insight into how you developed an interest and specialty in Tribal Laws?

A:  I have always been very proud of my Native roots. My great grandfather was a famous Seminole Indian. My father is a full-blood Seminole who did not even speak English until grade school when he was sent to boarding school. He grew up very poor but after joining the military, was able to put himself through college and law school. For many years, he held various positions within the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and often represented the tribe as its counsel.

Through my dad and my relatives, I learned much about my Native heritage. To get more involved with the Native community, I served on the board of Red Earth for many years, including as President and Past-President. Red Earth, Inc., a non-profit, is a multi-cultural organization that promotes the understanding and continuation of traditional and contemporary Native culture and art. Each year, it holds a juried-art competition and festival that is attended by many tribes from around the country.

Through Red Earth, I made many contacts with Native businesses and tribal leaders. When Oklahoma’s many tribes became more affluent in recent years and began pursuing many more economic development projects than they had in the past, I was able to secure many opportunities to represent Native businesses, tribes, and tribal members, as well as non-native businesses wanting to do business with them.


Q:  We also understand that you trace your own ancestral lineage to the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma through your great grandfather, “Chili Fish,” who was – and I hope we have this correct – one of the first Light Horsemen, which was the first law enforcement unit in Indian Territory, and also a Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma What can you share with us about your family’s history?

chili fish gcs great grandfather

Chili Fish, Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma in 1935-1936 and Director G. Calvin Sharpe’s great grandfather

A:  Yes, my great grandfather was a very famous Seminole leader. He served as Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma in 1935-1936 and, as you mention, was one of the first Light Horsemen, who served as law enforcement in early Indian Territory-law enforcement which then consisted of hanging for serious offenses and public whipping for lesser offenses. The old “Whipping Tree” still stands in Wewoka, OK today.

Although he did not speak English, he was instrumental in helping his people address the serious deficiencies in federal administration of lndian affairs in the 1930s, including the exclusion of Indians in managing their own affairs and the poor quality of public services they received. In early 1932, he and a delegation of Seminole members visited Washington regarding the Mekusukey Mission school that the Department of Interior had promised to fund but had closed without warning, leasing the land on which the school sat to an oil company. As a result, Congress soon thereafter passed the Act of April 27, 1934 which made all sales and leases of tribal lands subject to the Seminole General Counsel’s approval.

In 1931, Chili Fish helped bring together the Seminoles with many other tribes to celebrate their own cultures and traditions in a large festival-an event that is still held today, known as “Seminole Nation Days:’ While in high school, my daughter rode in the Seminole Nation Days parade as First Runner-Up in the Miss Seminole pageant, a contest that allows young Seminole women to display their talents and knowledge of their Seminole culture.


Many native people are inherently suspicious of those outside their own tribes. To bring people within the tribe together with those outside the tribe is often not an easy task. Being creative in handling delicate issues has served me well.

Q:  Has there been anything that you have learned or utilized in your practice in representing the Tribal Nations that you have brought with you to your civil practice as well?

A:  Definitely the importance of maintaining creativity of thought. Because each tribe in Oklahoma is a sovereign nation in and to itself and each has its own laws and practices, I have learned that it is critical to remain open to new ideas and being creative in handling issues, especially when tribal laws intertwine with state and federal laws. Many native people are inherently suspicious of those outside their own tribes. To bring people within the tribe together with those outside the tribe is often not an easy task. Being creative in handling delicate issues has served me well. This thought process has helped me in other practices areas of my practice as well.


Q:  For many years, we have taken the heritage and legacy of the Tribal Nations in this country for granted, even though they were here before any of us. If there were 3 things you could share with us from your family’s history as well as your representation of the Tribal Nations about their story, history and culture, what would they be?

gcs and father

Director G. Calvin Sharpe and his father in front of a portrait of Chili Fish

Three things that are important to my family’s history, as well as the history of many Native people, are our Native language, art, and traditions. Each tribe in Oklahoma has its own special language, many of which were waning as the younger generations were taught to speak only English. A resurgence of learning Native languages has been helped by tribal language programs, as well as classes taught as some Oklahoma universities.

Each tribe also has its own style of art, including dress and jewelry. I enjoyed learning beadwork as a young child from my relatives. As to the importance of Native art, I would love to mention that later this year, the First Americans Museum (FAM) will be opening in Oklahoma City. It will be a world-class facility celebrating the 39 tribes of Oklahoma, both as they existed in the past and as they exist today. The museum will house many native artifacts on loan from The Smithsonian Institute. I welcome all FDCC members to visit FAM, a museum and center that what will no doubt be a national treasure once it opens.

And each tribe has its own traditions, including family celebrations, special foods, and religious holidays. As I mentioned above, Oklahoma Seminoles still celebrate “Seminole Nation Days” with our traditional stick-ball games (similar to modern-day lacrosse), enjoying homemade sorghum (molasses) and sotkey (a sour drink), and stomp and gourd dance competitions.

I believe it is very important for each tribe, including my own tribe, to educate our young tribal members in each of these areas in order to best preserve the rich culture and heritage of our Native past for the future.


Q:  What are some of the issues and cases you have been working on relating to the Tribal Nations?

A:  I argued an interesting issue related to separation of governmental powers before the Seminole Nation Supreme Court. There, the tribe’s legislative branch—the Tribal Counsel—was challenged

by the judicial branch. The Tribal Counsel had sought to regulate the Nation’s court system by dictating who could serve as judges and court staff. Representing the judicial side, we were able to successfully assert that such powers must be kept separate in order for the government to properly function.

Just recently, I successfully represented an Osage Nation Congresswoman in proceedings before the Osage Nation in which the tribe had sought to remove her from her position as a congresswoman.

I also represent non-native businesses in negotiations with various tribes in Oklahoma, including representing a non-native medical company in negotiations with the Rosebud Sioux tribe to enter into a teaming agreement for the provision of medical billing services to governmental agencies.


Later this year, the First Americans Museum (FAM) will be opening in Oklahoma City.

It will be a world-class facility celebrating the 39 tribes of Oklahoma, both as they existed in the past

and as they exist today. I welcome all FDCC members to visit FAM, a museum and center that what will no doubt be a national treasure once it opens.

Q:  What else do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A:  My wife and I enjoy spending as much time as possible with our grandson, 20-month-old Hudson. We have a house at Lake Eufaula, a two-hour drive from home, and spend about a third of our time there, enjoying boating and just relaxing with our kids. I also enjoy hunting and fishing. My wife is an excellent cook so I probably spend too much time eating and enjoying a good wine as well.


Q:  OK … time for the lightning round … Favorite place ever visited?

A:  I can’t name just one so here are my top three: Maui, Costa Rica, and Santa Fe. And of course, Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma.


Q:  What’s on the bucket list?

A:  I love Formula 1 racing, so a ride and dinner with Lewis Hamilton is a “must” on my list.


Q:  What’s something else unique about you?

A:  I am a French Bulldog nut. My wife and I had a Frenchie for almost 16 years who passed away last year, and our daughter and son-in-law have one as well. Soon after our beloved Rocket died, we purchased a blue Frenchie, RJ, and just recently we got a white Frenchie, Windy. I follow many French Bulldog websites, including French Bulldog Enthusiast. I just can’t get enough of them!


Q:  Will we be seeing you in for the 2021 Annual Meeting at The Greenbrier Resort in WV?

A:  Assuming the vaccines are rolled out and the pandemic is under control by then, I definitely plan to attend.

Sharpe accepted into Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel

Director G. Calvin Sharpe has been accepted as a new member to the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC).

Calvin Sharpe Web pic

G. Calvin Sharpe

“After many years of primarily focusing on medical malpractice defense, I began diversifying my practice about 15 years ago and now represent numerous corporate clients,” Sharpe said. “FDCC is well-known as the best professional trade association for linking defense attorneys—like myself—with corporate counsel and executives who—also like myself—greatly value integrity, professionalism, and civility.

“The educational opportunities that FDCC affords are incomparable and will no doubt be invaluable to my practice. I am honored to have been invited to FDCC’s membership and look forward to getting very involved.”

Founded in 1936, the FDCC has maintained the mission of creating a network of established defense counsel, in which members are nominated and require approval before being accepted.

“Networking has long been an important part of the career of most lawyers,” Sharpe said. “I met most of my current clients through networking events or networking through friends and colleagues. What sets FDCC apart is that it not only provides many networking opportunities through many different means, but it provides those opportunities with individuals and companies of diverse backgrounds and expertise who have been vetted and proven themselves to have met FDCC’s very high standards.

“To have the opportunity to engage with the FDCC membership is a unique privilege that would give anyone a leg up in the path toward a successful career.”

Sharpe has 30 years of experience in Oklahoma courtrooms, representing a diverse list of business clients in matters relating to medical malpractice, medical devices, products liability, insurance and commercial litigation.

Read more about FDCC at its website here.

405 Magazine selects Phillips Murrah for 2020 Oklahoma Top Attorneys

Phillips Murrah is honored to have 13 attorneys selected as Oklahoma Top Attorneys for 2020 by 405 Magazine. Attorneys are selected for the list by an online peer-voting and research process facilitated by DataJoe Research across various practice areas.

For more information on each listed attorney, visit their profile by clicking on their portrait or contact information below:

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Banking and Financial Law:

. Mark Lovelace Oklahoma Top Attorney Banking and Financial Law

J. Mark Lovelace, Director


Donald A. Pape Oklahoma Top Attorney Banking and Financial Law

Donald A. Pape, Of Counsel

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Business Law:

Robert O. O'Bannon Oklahoma Top Attorney Business Law

Robert O. O’Bannon, Director

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Commercial Litigation:

Thomas G. Wolfe Oklahoma Top Attorney Commercial Litigation

Thomas G. Wolfe, Director

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Health Care Law:

Mary Holloway Richard Oklahoma Top Attorney Health Care Law

Mary Holloway Richard, Of Counsel

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Intellectual Property Rights:

Martin G. Ozinga Oklahoma Top Attorney Intellectual Property Rights

Martin G. Ozinga, Of Counsel

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Labor and Employment:

Byrona J. Maule Oklahoma Top Attorney Labor and Employment

Byrona J. Maule, Director

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Land Use – Environment:

Jim A. Roth Oklahoma Top Attorney Land Use Environment

Jim A. Roth, Director

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Medical Malpractice Defense:

G. Calvin Sharpe Oklahoma Top Attorney Medical Malpractice Defense

G. Calvin Sharpe, Director

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Oil and Gas:

Elizabeth K Brown Oklahoma Top Attorney Oil and Gas

Elizabeth K. Brown, Director

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Real Estate:

Sally A. Hasenfratz Oklahoma Top Attorney Real Estate

Sally A. Hasenfratz, Director

Oklahoma Top Attorney for Tax Law:

Robert O. O'Bannon Oklahoma Top Attorney Business Law

Robert O. O’Bannon, Director


Dawn M. Rahme Oklahoma Top Attorney Tax Law

Dawn M. Rahme, Director


View the full list of attorneys here:

Blocks for Bucks: End-of-season check presentation to Thunder Cares for over $20,000!

Blocks for Bucks image(April 9, 2019) – Tonight is the final home game of the regular season, and that means it’s time, once again, to tally up the blocks and present a giant check (literally!)

Phillips Murrah Directors present Blocks for Bucks check.

Directors from Phillips Murrah present our Blocks for Bucks donation to Thunder Cares.

Just before tip-off at tonight’s Oklahoma City Thunder game against the Houston Rockets, Phillips Murrah Directors G. Calvin Sharpe, Nikki Edwards and Marc Edwards will participate in the check presentation ceremony at mid-court. The amount is for $20,600, which reflects the amount our Firm has donated thus far in the 2018-2019 regular season, prior to tonight’s action. For the final tally, blocks from tonight’s game will be added to the final amount, which will go directly to the Thunder Cares Foundation.

“Our Firm likes being involved in the Oklahoma City community, and The Thunder Cares Foundation is a great way for us to do that,” said G. Calvin, whose litigation practice focuses mainly on matters involving medical malpractice, products liability and insurance.

“We are huge Thunder fans and take great pride in partnering with Thunder Cares and all they do in the community,” said Marc, who represents both private business and public entities in a broad range of litigation with an emphasis on public utility, public pension, governmental and administrative laws.

This is the second year that Phillips Murrah has partnered with the OKC Thunder with the Blocks for Bucks campaign. The check presentation from the 2017-2018 season can be seen here.

What is Blocks for Bucks?

Russell Westbrook Phillips Murrah

Russell Westbrook on @okcthunder Instagram with Phillips Murrah logo.

Attorneys and staff at Phillips Murrah are huge Thunder fans, and to recognize our home team’s accomplishments in blocking shots, the Firm is donating $100 to Thunder Cares for each blocked shot that the Thunder forces at home games during the regular season.

Blocks for Bucks began in November of 2017, when Phillips Murrah initiated our partnership with the Thunder organization. Helping to improve the community is at the heart of of our Firm’s mission, and the prospect of achieving that through the Thunder Cares Foundation with such an exciting and entertaining campaign was irresistible.

“Phillips Murrah is proud to partner with the Thunder Cares Foundation,” said Phillips Murrah President and Managing Partner, Thomas G. Wolfe. “The Thunder has done so much in Oklahoma. We’re glad to join in their efforts.”

As the Thunder team racked up blocks throughout the season, video highlights were posted at the Blocks for Bucks page on the Thunder’s website, along with a blocks counter and a running donation amount tally.

“Working with the Thunder is an absolute pleasure,” said Phillips Murrah Marketing Director, Dave Rhea. “Being able to support Thunder Cares with this blocks campaign allows us to give back to the community while also driving home the point that, at the end of the day, we’re also huge Thunder fans!”

The Thunder Cares Foundation helps support the team’s community outreach projects, including Thunder-themed basketball courts in parks, schools and community centers across Oklahoma, as well as learning labs and activity rooms at organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County, City Rescue Mission, and Positive Tomorrows, a school that serves homeless children in Oklahoma City. In celebration of the Thunder’s 10th season, the Thunder Cares Foundation is funding a matching grant through in support of Health & Sports projects in public schools across Oklahoma.

Phillips Murrah looks forward to continuing to partner with the Oklahoma City Thunder and The Thunder Cares Foundation in the years to come.

Phillips Murrah rowing team competes 2017 Oklahoma Regatta Festival

Law & Oarder, Phillips Murrah’s rowing team, stands with the medals they won after competing in the 2017 Oklahoma Regatta Festival.

Phillips Murrah’s rowing team Law & Oarder completed the Fall 2017 season by placing third in the annual regatta competition.

The team competed on Oct. 6 at the 2017 Oklahoma Regatta Festival held at the OKC Boathouse District in the advanced league and achieved a 500-meter run of 2:16.688.

“It’s always a great way to make sure I get outside and enjoy my co-workers,” said Melissa R. Gardner, Director and Law & Oarder team leader. “We were so excited to place in an Intermediate category when almost half of our boat was novice!”

In all seven seasons the Firm’s rowing team has competed, team members consisted of both attorneys and staff members.

“The best part about rowing is seeing all the hard work come together on race day,” said Samuel R. Lincoln, Director of Information Technology. “It is the most exhilarating and exhausting 2 minutes of your life!”

The team will resume practice in the Spring for the Stars & Stripes Festival in June 2018.

Phillips Murrah has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Oklahoma in 2017 and an Oklahoma Top Work Place by The Oklahoman/WorkplaceDynamics two years in a row. Our Firm strives to recognize and reward our employees for excellence.

Phillips Murrah attorneys selected as 2017 Super Lawyers

Phillips Murrah P.C._Logo_Color_emblemTwenty Phillips Murrah Attorneys have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 edition of Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers for their excellence in their respective practice areas. Seven attorneys of them under the age of 40 were recognized as Rising Stars.

Super Lawyers,a division of Thomson Reuters, is a research-driven, peer influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The Super Lawyers lists are published in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. Using the same patented process for selecting Super Lawyers, Rising Stars recognizes up and coming lawyers who are 40 years old or younger and have been in practice for 10 years or less.

The following Phillips Murrah attorneys are included in 2017’s Super Lawyers:

Directors G. Calvin Sharpe and Lyndon W. Whitmire were among the Top 50 Oklahoma Super Lawyers for 2017. Directors Shannon K. Emmons and Sally A. Hasenfratz were listed on the Top 25 Women Oklahoma Super Lawyers for 2017.

The following Phillips Murrah attorneys are included in 2017’s Oklahoma Rising Stars:

Phillips Murrah announces 37 attorneys named to 2018 Best Lawyers list

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce that 37 of our attorneys have been named to The Best Lawyers in America© 2018 list in Oklahoma City.

The Best Lawyers in America 2018

Jennifer Ivester Berry – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Real Estate Law

Douglas A. Branch – Securities / Capital Markets Law; Venture Capital Law

Elizabeth K. Brown – Litigation – Trusts and Estates; Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Tax Law; Trusts and Estates

Michael D. Carter – Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers

Rodney L. Cook – Insurance Law

Bobby Dolatabadi – Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law

Jason A. Dunn – Commercial Litigation

Joshua L. Edwards – Real Estate Law

Marc Edwards – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Commercial Litigation; Government Relations Practice

Nicholle Jones Edwards – Family Law

Shannon K. Emmons – Commercial Litigation; Employment Law – Management; Employment Law – Individuals

Juston R. Givens – Commercial Litigation

Sally A. Hasenfratz – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Construction Law; Land Use and Zoning Law; Real Estate Law

Terry L. Hawkins – Public Finance Law

Heather L. Hintz – Commercial Litigation

Timothy D. Kline – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Litigation – Bankruptcy

Fred A. Leibrock – Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law; Litigation – Antitrust; Litigation – ERISA; Litigation – Real Estate

Candace Williams Lisle – Commercial Litigation

Mark Lovelace – Banking and Finance Law; Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Commercial Transactions / UCC Law

Melvin R. McVay, Jr. – Banking and Finance Law; Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Banking and Finance; Litigation – Bankruptcy; Litigation – Real Estate

Andrew S. Mildren – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Government Relations Practice

Jennifer L. Miller – Commercial Litigation

Cindy H. Murray – Real Estate Law

Robert O. O’Bannon – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Tax Law

Martin G. Ozinga – Commercial Litigation

Donald A. Pape – Banking and Finance Law

Michael R. Perri – Commercial Litigation; Energy Law; Natural Resources Law; Oil and Gas Law

William S. Price – Government Relations Practice

Dawn M. Rahme – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Tax Law; Trusts and Estates

Mary Holloway Richard – Health Care Law

Jim A. Roth – Energy Law; Energy Regulatory Law; Environmental Law; Government Relations Practice; Natural Resources Law

G. Calvin Sharpe – Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants; Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants

Robert N. Sheets – Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Land Use and Zoning; Litigation – Real Estate

Ellen K. Spiropoulos – Corporate Law

Lyndon W. Whitmire – Commercial Litigation; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Thomas G. Wolfe – Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Raymond E. Zschiesche – Commercial Litigation; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Phillips Murrah rowing team competes in Summer 2017 season

Molly Tipton, G. Calvin Sharpe, Melissa Gardner, Jennifer Miller, Tyler Sullivan, Monica Ball, Deann Aderholt, Sam Lincoln, and Deena Baker stand with their bronze medals after racing at the Stars and Stripes River Festival on June 24.

Phillips Murrah’s rowing team Law & Oarder completed the Summer 2017 season by placing third in the annual regatta competition.

The team competed on June 24 at the Stars and Stripes River Festival held at the OKC Boathouse District in the advanced league and achieved a 500-meter run of 2:02.

“Rowing is a team effort much like the work we do at Phillips Murrah,” said G. Calvin Sharpe, Director and Law & Oarder team leader. “Our team improved over the season, and we all worked together to have a great season that culminated Saturday night.”

In all six seasons the Firm’s rowing team has competed, team members consisted of both attorneys and staff members.

“I decided to join the rowing team because I wanted to try something that was completely new to me” Attorney Molly E. Tipton said. “Not only was it something I had never done, but I also had the opportunity spend time with people at Phillips Murrah that I don’t often see, which ended up being my favorite part!

“I feel lucky to call these people my co-workers, my teammates and my friends!”

The team will continue their practices through the summer and into the fall, leading into the final regatta, which will be held in October.

“I absolutely love the opportunity Phillips Murrah has given us to get out there and work as a team outside of the office,” Legal Assistant Deena Baker said. “Even though we’ve been up against some pretty elite teams these last three seasons, it just gives us more to strive for in the end.

“Being on the corporate rowing team has personally given me something I never even dreamed of doing and plan to continue as long as I can!”

Phillips Murrah has been recognized as an Oklahoma Top Work Place by The Oklahoman/WorkplaceDynamics two years in a row. Our Firm strives to recognize and reward our employees for excellence.

Office Visit: Taming the Reptile lawyer

By Director G. Calvin Sharpe. This guest column was originally published in The Journal Record on November 29, 2016.

G. Calvin Sharpe has 30 years of experience in Oklahoma courtrooms, representing a diverse list of business clients in matters relating to medical malpractice, medical devices, products liability, insurance and commercial litigation.

Office Visit: Taming the Reptile lawyer

The Reptile Theory is a legal trend that has recently gained popularity with the plaintiff’s bar. It is a strategy used to shift jury attention from considering complex trial details typical of a medical malpractice case, to reaction-driven responses that arise from the reptilian portion of the brain. The most primitive cognitive functions, such as breathing, hunger and survival, are generated from this inner portion of the brain, called the basal ganglia or the reptilian complex.

With the common assumption that jurors want to expose and punish the existence of danger, Reptile attorneys seek to establish the defendant doctor or health care provider as careless, indifferent or even malicious in their disregard for safety. The jury’s perception that the defendant endangered the plaintiff will stimulate the survival mechanism deep in their reptile complex. Thus, the jury will act to protect themselves and the community by awarding a substantial verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

As a health care defense litigator in Oklahoma, I have experienced this method firsthand. The Reptile Theory is successfully utilized to secure favorable verdicts and high damage awards. However, just as trends ascend, so do counterstrategies. The Reptile strategy is not the Jedi Mind Trick, and with proper preparation, defense lawyers can derail Reptile attorneys’ efforts before they can derail the jury.

A critical part of defending the Reptile method is to spend adequate time preparing witnesses for deposition, and subsequently, trial cross-examination. During deposition, the Reptile attorney will likely begin the process of establishing a collection of artificial safety rules that exceed the degree of prudence and caution required by law, known as Standard of Care.

For example, a deposed physician may be asked, “Is the ultimate safety of a patient the most important consideration in medical care?” An unprepared defendant would naturally want to say, “yes, of course.” However, this can be used during trial to characterize the physician as careless and unsafe when artificial safety rules established in deposition are contradicted, even if they exceed the legal standard of care required for a physician or health care provider.

Understanding of Reptile Theory within the legal community is still evolving. Defense lawyers are well-advised to educate themselves, their clients and the judge prior to squaring off against a Reptile lawyer.

G. Calvin Sharpe is a trial lawyer at Phillips Murrah law firm in Oklahoma City.

NewsOK Q&A: High court’s tie in assault affirms tribe’s self-determination right

From NewsOK / by Paula Burkes
Published: June 30, 2016
Click to see full story – High court’s tie in assault affirms tribe’s self-determination right

Click to see G. Calvin Sharpe’s attorney profile

G. Calvin Sharpe has 30 of years of experience in Oklahoma courtrooms, representing a diverse list of business clients in matters relating to medical malpractice, medical devices, products liability, insurance and commercial litigation.

Q: Generally speaking, what was the Dollar General case about, originally?

A: In the original case, there was a Dollar General store operating within the Reservation of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. A 13-year-old boy, a tribal member, was working at the store as a part of a youth opportunity program. In 2005, a suit was brought by the boy’s parents that alleged that the boy was sexually assaulted by the store’s nontribal manager in the summer of 2003. In the binding contract with the tribe to operate on tribal land, Dollar General agreed to tribal court civil jurisdiction, so the case went to a tribal court. The Choctaw courts denied a motion to dismiss the case due to lack of jurisdiction citing a 1981 Supreme Court Case, Montana v. United States, which held that a “tribe may regulate, through taxation, licensing, or other means, the activities of nonmembers who enter consensual relationships with the tribe or its members.” Dollar General subsequently sued in federal court to clarify the terminology, “other means.” (Dollar General Corp. v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians)

Q: The Supreme Court decision was tied, 4-to-4, which means that the lower court decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is upheld. What was that Fifth Circuit’s upheld decision?

A: At the heart of this decision is the question of whether tribal courts have the right to exercise civil authority over people who are operating within tribe’s jurisdiction, but who aren’t tribal members. In the federal case subsequent to the tribal rulings in Choctaw courts, Dollar General petitioned for certiorari, which means they asked a higher court to review the determination of a lower court. In the judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Indian tribal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims against nonmembers, including as a means of regulating the conduct of nonmembers who enter into consensual relationships with a tribe or its members.

Q: How has this Supreme Court ruling, essentially allowing the lower court decision to stay, changed the nature of tribal jurisdictional authority?

A: In the decision of the appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, the high court was deadlocked, which allows the decision of the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to stand. The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court, (which) allows the case to proceed to resolution in tribal court without further appeals regarding authority. However, there’s the likelihood that, in a similar case, the Supreme Court would grant another certiorari when the Senate confirms a replacement for Justice Scalia.

Q: Why is this viewed as a success for tribal sovereignty and tribal governmental authority?

A: Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling served as a significant win in the fight for native tribal court authority. The Supreme Court tie affirms native groups’ right to self-determination. This allows federally recognized tribes to continue developing their own governmental bodies.


Phillips Murrah rowing team, Law & Oarder, completes 2015 season

Phillips Murrah rowing team on the course

Phillips Murrah’s corporate rowing team, Law & Oarder, was featured on the cover of the Saturday, Oklahoman on Oct. 3.

rowing group

Getting ready for the race, Oct 2 at the Oklahoma Boathouse District. From left: Nathan Hatcher, Debra Tyler, Jennifer Miller, Jason Kreth, Dave Rhea, Melissa Gardner, G. Calvin Sharpe.

The Phillips Murrah rowing team, Law & Oarder, completed the 2015 season on Friday with a solid, 500-meter run of 1:52.818.

“It has been amazing to see how wholeheartedly the firm supports our team,” said Phillips Murrah attorney and L&O team leader, Melissa Gardner. “I definitely think rowing is an outlet to build relationships outside of those you’d normally build in the firm.”

Over the two seasons during the summer of 2015, the rowing team has consisted of Firm Shareholders, attorneys, non-attorney directors in marketing and IT, legal secretaries and accountants.

“Rowing gives me a sense of commitment and accountability to our team and it brings our ‘work family’ together in a vastly different environment,” said Marketing Director, Dave Rhea. “It’s a very interesting activity. This is my first year, and I am hooked.”

PM rowing tshirts for 2015

PM rowing t shirts for 2015

“Plus, I think the regattas are a great way for the firm to build morale,” Melissa added. “As someone who started at the firm within the last two years, it was a great way to speed up relationship building within the firm – both with those who are on the team and all those who are just interested!”

G rowing

Practice: G. Calvin and Monica Ball preparing to “put foot to strip.”

“Having the opportunity to be a part of the Phillips Murrah rowing team has been an awesome experience,” said Deena Baker, a Legal Secretary at Phillips Murrah. “I have accomplished something I never dreamed of even attempting, but was determined to try after watching last October’s race!  Had the time of my life and am ready to jump back in next year!”

You can see more coverage about the regatta in The Oklahoman – Oklahoma Regatta Festival: Premier fall rowing event keeps growing by Ed Godfrey.


Affordable Care Act changes affect physicians

Gavel to Gavel, appears in The Journal Record.
Originally published in The Journal Record on Apr. 22, 2015.
View G. Calvin Sharpe’s attorney profile here.

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G. Calvin Sharpe is a trial attorney who represents a diverse list of business clients in matters relating to medical malpractice, medical devices, medical licensure boards,products liability, insurance and commercial litigation.

The Affordable Care Act brought fundamental changes to the American health care system.

One called evidenced-based care significantly affects how physicians are paid. I’ve represented many providers in malpractice actions and before professional licensure boards, but now I must also be as proficient in regulatory law.

The ACA’s value-based care replaces traditional fee for service. In the traditional model, a patient visit is followed by a bill paid by the patient or insurer, and providers are rewarded for a higher-volume practice. One of the stated goals of the ACA is to eliminate care and decision making that could be financially motivated.

The value-based pay-for-performance compensation model that reimburses physicians based upon achievement of measurable objectives or metrics is replacing that traditional model. Evidenced-based guidelines focus on outcomes and will seek to eliminate unnecessary procedures, and compensation will be based upon performance.

Examples would be patient readmission following hospital discharge and so-called never events, defined by the National Quality Form’s list of Serious Reportable Events as events that should never have happened.

Changes in evidenced-based care practice guidelines and how medical malpractice claims are brought generally attempt to measure a provider’s performance against a legal standard. This means the performance is evaluated according to that of a prudent professional in the same or similar circumstances.

Read the entire column here.