Carter selected for Defense Research Institute’s Board of Directors

The Defense Research Institute selected Attorney Michael D. Carter for its Board of Directors as the Southwest Region Director at its annual meeting in October.

Michael D. Carter is an experienced litigator and represents a wide variety of parties in environmental and toxic tort cases in state and federal courts.

Carter will serve a three-year term as one of 12 Regional Directors on DRI’s Board.

He recently completed his three-year term as DRI State Representative and was selected as the 2021 recipient of DRI’s Kevin Driskill Outstanding State Representative Award at the annual meeting.

DRI is the leading organization of defense attorneys and in-house counsel globally with more than 16,000 members, and Carter is an active member of the organization.

Carter is an experienced litigator and represents a wide variety of parties in environmental and toxic tort cases in state and federal courts. In addition, he is a long-time policy advisor on workers’ compensation issues in the state of Oklahoma.

Visit DRI’s website to learn more about the organization and its mission.

Phillips Murrah Director advises Oklahoma Agricultural Aviation Association on potential crop dusting legal issues

Director Patrick Hullum speaks at the Oklahoma Agricultural Aviation Association annual convention.

Phillips Murrah Director Patrick L. Hullum spoke to aerial spray applicators, or crop dusters, on January 16 at the Oklahoma Agricultural Aviation Association’s annual convention about potential legal issues facing these business owners and pilots and ways to avoid them.

“When legal or insurance claims are brought against an aerial spray business, the claims are most often alleging ‘drift’ against the company,” Hullum said. ” ‘Drift’ occurs when the chemical spray dispensed by the aircraft moves beyond the intended target area. Such claims allege that the aerial spray caused chemical damage or harm to land or vegetation owned by someone else.”

Drift complaints must first be filed with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture within 90 days of the spray/damage before a lawsuit can be filed. Following this step:

  • The aerial spray company must be allowed access to the property to view alleged damage, inspect and obtain samples for testing.
  • The Department of Agriculture will conduct a complete investigation of any complaint and make a determination of whether the company committed any violations.
  • The complainant may still file a lawsuit following the Department of Agriculture investigation, even if the Department of Agriculture clears the company.

If the company is notified of a Department of Agriculture complaint or subsequent lawsuit, it needs to notify its attorney immediately, Hullum said.

“The attorney can quickly determine if the complaint and/or lawsuit was properly and timely filed and served, and whether the court has proper jurisdiction and venue,” he said. “The attorney can also quickly organize an inspection of the property and gather crucial maps, imaging, Satloc flight information, chemical testing, etc. and can determine whether the lawsuit has diversity of the parties and an amount in controversy to transfer from state to federal court.”

Hullum’s primary advice to these business owners is to be prepared.

“Overall, as an aerial spray business, be organized and diligent on the front end of your customer relations and service,” he said. “Speak openly with your customers and identify concerned neighbors, take video and photos of your spray applications, have your Satloc software up to date and in place, maintain Mesonet weather data for the days leading to/during/after the chemical application, maintain color satellite maps of the property areas and boundaries, obtain statements, and obtain samples for testing.”

To learn more about Patrick Hullum’s practice, visit his attorney profile here.

Phillips Murrah announces new Director, Shareholder for 2018

Director Kayce L. Gisinger

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce Attorney Kayce L. Gisinger has been selected to join the Firm’s group of Directors, bringing the total number to 35.

“Working at Phillips Murrah has been such a positive experience, and I have so much respect for everyone here; not just in terms of the commitment to providing the highest level of service to our clients but also the equally outstanding commitment to community service work here in Oklahoma City,” Gisinger said. “I feel very honored to be part of such an amazing group and look forward to my new role with the firm.”

As a litigation attorney with extensive trial experience with beginnings at the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office where she tried over 100 jury trials, Gisinger’s practice has grown to include the defense of cases involving product liability, auto and trucking negligence, premises liability, medical malpractice, legal malpractice, employment law and insurance litigation.

“Kayce has an expansive career as an accomplished litigator, and the Firm couldn’t be more proud to have her join our group of Directors and Shareholders,” said Thomas G. Wolfe, President and Managing Partner. “We expect Kayce’s expertise and commitment to her clients to flourish exponentially in her new role at Phillips Murrah.”

A native Oklahoman, Gisinger was raised in Lawton and has resided in Oklahoma City for the past 30 years. She is active in her community and volunteers at various animal shelters and local food banks.

She officially assumed her new role on Jan. 1, 2018.

Tort reform shows how Oklahoma product liability law evolves

This Gavel to Gavel guest column, originally published in The Journal Record on June 4, 2015, contains insights by Phillips Murrah attorney Cody Cooper concerning Oklahoma Product Liability Law. Cody Cooper contributed to “An Overview of Oklahoma Product Liability Law,” co-authored by Phillips Murrah Directors Tom Wolfe and Lyndon Whitmire for the April 2015 edition of the Oklahoma Bar Journal.
View Cody Cooper’s attorney profile here.

Cody J. Cooper is an associate attorney with Phillips Murrah whose practice is concentrated in commercial litigation, product liability, and intellectual property.

Cody J. Cooper is an attorney with Phillips Murrah whose practice is concentrated in commercial litigation, product liability, and intellectual property.

Exploding gas cans, scolding-hot coffee, misfiring rifles, popping exercise balls and sticking gas pedals. What do these things have in common? Each of these products was the center of some of the most memorable product liability lawsuits.

Since Kirkland v. General Motors, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has recognized product liability claims and the law has continued to grow and evolve.

For simplicity’s sake, law develops primarily in two ways: the Oklahoma Legislature enacts statutes and case law is developed from courts’ opinions applying those statutes.

The Oklahoma Legislature creates the statutes by which claims and parties are governed and this has an obvious, direct impact in Oklahoma product liability actions.

Oklahoma courts then interpret these statutes and apply them in product liability lawsuits. The courts’ decisions provide guiding authority on issues and allow parties to understand how laws will be applied in the future.

Both play critical roles, but can lead to conflict over how the law will ultimately operate. Such is the case currently with tort reform. In the past few years, wide-ranging legislative changes have caused conflict and consternation at the Capitol and in the courtroom.

Tort reform statutes have had widespread implications in product liability lawsuits, including caps on potential recoverable damages, providing substantial protection for product sellers, requiring plaintiffs to provide medical records, and shielding manufacturers from claims regarding inherently unsafe products.

In 2009, the Oklahoma Legislature passed House Bill 2818 (the 2009 Act), followed by a 2011 statute amending many parts of the 2009 Act. In 2013, several individual cases held tort reform unconstitutional, which led to the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking the entire act as being unconstitutional for violation of the single-subject rule that requires that laws only address a single subject – to prevent logrolling. Later that year, the Oklahoma Legislature through a special session, modified and revived many of the laws struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court and enacted new ones.

The clash between legislators and Oklahoma courts make it difficult for parties to understand what the future holds for product liability law in Oklahoma. The only certainty is that the law will continue to evolve.