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Reeves v. City of Durant

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division IV

August 2, 2018

AMY REEVES, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
CITY OF DURANT, Defendant/Appellee, and OKLAHOMA GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY, Defendant.

          Mandate Issued: 02/27/2019

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF OKLAHOMA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE RICHARD C. OGDEN, TRIAL JUDGE

          Jack S. Dawson, MILLER DOLLARHIDE, P.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellant

          David Kirk, Robert Ray Jones, Chantel James, LYTLE SOULÉ & CURLEE, P.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City, for Defendant/Appellee City of Durant and

          Jennifer Castillo, OKLAHOMA GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Defendant Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company

          KEITH RAPP, JUDGE

         ¶1 Plaintiff, Amy Reeves, appeals a trial court Journal Entry of Judgment sustaining the Motion to Dismiss of defendant, City of Durant. This appeal proceeds under the accelerated docket pursuant to Oklahoma Supreme Court Rule 1.36, 12 O.S.Supp. 2017 ch. 15, app. 1. After review of the record on appeal and applicable law, this Court affirms.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 On November 23, 2014, Plaintiff was injured when she was struck by a vehicle driven by Jason Schaming while crossing a street in Durant, Oklahoma. Plaintiff alleges inadequate street lighting at the intersection caused the accident. Plaintiff claims Mr. Schaming was unable to see Plaintiff crossing the street because of the inadequate street lighting and could not avoid the collision.

         ¶3 Plaintiff filed a First Amended Petition [1] on December 29, 2016, alleging a cause of action for negligence against defendants, City of Durant and Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (OG&E), for failure to keep the streetlight lit. Plaintiff alleged "the accident was caused in whole or in part by inadequate lighting due at the intersection." Plaintiff further alleged Defendant had a duty to install and maintain street lighting and once it undertook this duty, it had to do so in a manner that complied with industry standards for lighting.

         ¶4 Defendant City of Durant filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to 12 O.S. 2011 § 2012 (B)(6). [2] Defendant argued it had "no duty to install or maintain streetlights" and, therefore, Plaintiff could not establish a negligence claim. In the alternative, Defendant argued the Oklahoma Supreme Court in Ochoa v. Taylor, 1981 OK 120, 635 P.2d 604, held that the installation and maintenance of streetlights is a discretionary act and a city is exempt from liability under the GTCA, specifically 51 O.S.Supp. 2017 § 155 (5).

         ¶5 In response, Plaintiff argued Defendant is not exempt from liability under the discretionary exemption of the GTCA because the duty to maintain streetlights that have already been installed is an operational function, not a discretionary one. Plaintiff further alleged that once Defendant had notice of the defective streetlight, it had a duty to fix the defective streetlight.

         ¶6 On September 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Certify Order of Dismissal for Immediate Appeal. In response, Defendant asked the trial court to deny Plaintiff's request to certify because all of Plaintiff's claims against the defendants arise out of the same transaction or occurrence. In addition, Defendant alleged Plaintiff had not shown the second element of certification, "no just reason for delay."

         ¶7 The trial court entered a Journal Entry of Judgment on January 19, 2018, sustaining Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and overruling OG&E's Special Appearance and Motion to Dismiss. The trial court also found "there is no just reason for delay, and this Journal Entry shall constitute a final ...


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