Like the Oklahoma Sooners took care of the Florida Gators in the Cotton Bowl (55-20), the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a commanding opinion on December 15, 2020, confirming assignments of claims are valid and enforceable in Oklahoma. In fact, the Oklahoma Supreme Court almost seemed surprised it was even a question when it reversed the trial court’s erroneous grant of summary judgment in favor of the insurance company against a construction company.
Continue Reading Oklahoma Confirms Assignment of Claims Are Valid

In Oklahoma, insurance companies have an incentive to timely investigate and resolve claims submitted by insureds. Part of this incentive exists through a fee-shifting statute,1 where insureds can recover attorneys’ fees and costs if they are the prevailing party at trial. I recently wrote about an Oklahoma Supreme Court decision relating to recovery of fees and costs, Insured Oklahomans Have a Confirmed Right to Make Their Insurance Company Pay Their Attorneys Fees and Costs for Wrongfully Denied Claims.
Continue Reading Recovery of Interest for Wrongfully Denied or Underpaid Claims in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Legislature has created an incentive for insurance companies to timely investigate claims submitted by insureds and resolve those claims. This incentive comes in the form of a statute,1 which explicitly gives an insured the right to recover the costs and fees paid to his or her attorneys when the insured prevails at a trial (or, in other words, when the jury agrees the insurance company should have paid a claim). The money for these fees and costs is paid by the insurance company. This is huge for policyholders because attorneys’ fees and litigation costs can reach thousands of dollars—sometimes hundreds of thousands.
Continue Reading Insured Oklahomans Have a Confirmed Right to Make the Insurance Company Pay Their Attorneys Fees and Costs for Wrongfully Denied Claims

Reggie Whitten and Michael Burrage filed lawsuits on behalf of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations in Oklahoma state court.1 The actions are similar to the declaratory judgment actions filed by John Houghtaling in Louisiana and California. I do not see how the Oklahoma cases are going to be removed to federal court because they lack diversity of citizenship for such jurisdiction.
Continue Reading Coronavirus Insurance Coverage Update March 30—Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations File for Declaratory Relief in Oklahoma

The South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce gave Merlin Law Group a wonderful ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the Grand Opening of our new Oklahoma City Office. Drew Houghton, Larry Bache and I were thrilled by the outpouring of wishes for success. I am certain that insurance companies delaying, denying and underpaying Oklahoma claims are not as wishful for our growth as the Chamber Chairman of the Board, Karl Hillerman, is—as seen in this photo wishing that we aspire to even larger offices, with many more attorneys.


Continue Reading Grand Opening of Merlin Law Group’s Oklahoma City Office

Most states follow the “American Rule” when it comes to litigation. In other words, absent a specific statute or contractual provision to the contrary, each party pays their own legal costs and fees. However, the Oklahoma legislature passed, and on May 10, 2017, the governor signed into law, a bill which, in essence, abolished the “American Rule” in all civil cases. While it appears that this was the unintended consequence of House Bill 1470, the law will require the losing party in civil lawsuits to pay all court costs to the winning party, and can also place the losing party on the hook for the winning party’s legal fees. The law will take effect November 1.
Continue Reading “American Rule” Abolished in Oklahoma

I recently received a request to write about the claims handling guidelines in Oklahoma. Again, I plan to go through all 50 states, but if you have a burning desire to see your state sooner rather than later, speak up! In Oklahoma, the handling of insurance claims is governed by both statute and the administrative code.
Continue Reading Claims Handling Requirements by State – Oklahoma

It is generally understood that a disagreement as to scope or cost of damages is not enough to rise to the level of bad faith in first-party property damage cases. However, a recent case out of the Western District of Oklahoma held that evidence of unreasonable underpayment of claim was sufficient to survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.


Continue Reading Court Finds Unreasonable Underpayment of Claim Sufficient Evidence of Bad Faith to Survive Motion to Dismiss

In Redcorn v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company,1 the insured’s roof was damaged by wind or hail. Although the policy did not define “actual cash value,” it contained an endorsement entitled Roof Surface Losses—Actual Cash Value Endorsement, which provided for roof surface repair and replacement coverage on an actual cash value basis:

Roof Surfaces: We will pay the actual cash value at the time of loss for loss or damage to roof surfaces. We will not pay an amount exceeding that which you actually and necessarily spend to repair or replace the damaged roof.


Continue Reading Calculating Actual Cash Value, Part 22: Oklahoma