United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. CAUTHRON, United States District Judge
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Third-Party Defendant Teledrift, Inc. (Dkt. No. 118.) Defendant
and Third-Party Plaintiff Southwest Electronic Energy
Corporation (“SWE”) has also filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No.124.) The appropriate parties have
responded and the Motions are now at issue. The Motions share
common facts and issues and both will be discussed herein.
McGehee and Heath were injured while working at the Teledrift
facility in Moore, Oklahoma. The incident occurred while
Plaintiffs attempted to remove a Measurement While Drilling
(“MWD”) tool from an encasing drill collar and a
battery inside the tool exploded. The MWD tool is a long
cylinder that fits inside a slightly larger collar; once
combined, the tool is called the Teledrift ProShot. Teledrift
manufactures and leases out the ProShot for drilling
leased the ProShot in question to Defendants Forest Oil
Company and Lantern Drilling Company and they returned it with
the MWD tool stuck or wedged inside the drill collar. This
was a common way the tools were returned to Teledrift due to
the snug fit and the tendency for dirt and other drilling
debris to get wedged between the tool and collar during
drilling operations. Plaintiffs commonly used a combination
of tapping or pushing on the inner tool with a steel bar and
spraying water inside the gap to separate the parts.
Unfortunately, the technique was not successful on May 24,
2012, when the lithium battery cell inside the tool exploded,
causing harm to Plaintiffs.
filed suit against SWE for defective design and warnings of
the battery pack that contained the exploding lithium battery
cell. SWE filed a third-party complaint against Teledrift for
indemnification, alleging Teledrift was the designer of the
battery pack and SWE merely performed assembly tasks. SWE
seeks indemnity from Teledrift pursuant to the dual-capacity
doctrine and 12 Okla. Stat. § 832.1. Teledrift filed a
motion for summary judgment on these issues and SWE filed a
motion for summary judgment asking the Court to find
Teledrift was the designer of the battery pack.
standard for summary judgment is well established. Summary
judgment may only be granted if the evidence of record shows
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial
burden of demonstrating the absence of material fact
requiring judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A fact is material
if it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). If the movant carries this initial burden, the
nonmovant must then set forth specific facts outside the
pleadings and admissible into evidence which would convince a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmovant.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). All facts and reasonable inferences
therefrom are construed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Administrative Workers' Compensation Act
Administrative Workers' Compensation Act,
(“AWCA”) 85A Okla. Stat. §§ 1 et seq.,
is Oklahoma's current workers' compensation statutory
scheme, having replaced the Workers' Compensation Code
(“WCC”), 85 Okla. Stat. §§ 1 et seq.,
on February 1, 2014. In its Memorandum Opinion and Order
dated December 22, 2015, the Court applied the AWCA because
the outcome was the same under each version of the law. (Mem.
Op. and Order, Dkt. No. 58, p. 3.) Unlike the issue presented
in the earlier Order, the present issues do not involve
equivalent outcomes based on the statutory language.
Therefore, the Court must determine which statutory scheme
AWCA applies “only to claims for injuries and death
based on accidents which occur on or after [its] effective
date” and “[t]he Workers' Compensation Code
in effect before the effective date of [the AWCA] shall
govern all rights in respect to claims for injuries and death
based on accidents occurring before the effective date of
this act.” 85A Okla. Stat. § 3. Because
Plaintiffs' injuries occurred on May 24, 2012, well
before the effective date of February 1, 2014, the WCC shall
apply to this case. See Holliman v. Twister Drilling
Co., 2016 OK 82, ¶ 5, 377 P.3d 133, 134; Chaney
v. Wal-mart Stores Inc., No. CIV-15-592-R, 2015 WL
6692108, at *11 (W.D. Okla. Nov. 3, 2015) (listing cases).
Workers' Compensation Immunity
argues that because it was Plaintiffs' employer, it is
immune from paying indemnity to SWE for Plaintiffs'
claims pursuant to the workers' compensation immunity
statute. SWE asserts Teledrift's parent corporation ...