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Mittal v. Bluestem Emergency Medical P.L.L.C.

Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma, Division No. 1

January 7, 2019

Bharat MITTAL, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
BLUESTEM EMERGENCY MEDICAL P.L.L.C., a professional limited liability company, and Thomas W. Britt, Roger J. Cotner, Holly B. Fouts, Ronald L. Hay and Ruth M. Thompson, Defendants/Appellees.

          Rehearing Denied: 03/21/2019

          Mandate Issued: 11/07/2019

         THIS OPINION HAS BEEN RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION BY ORDER OF THE COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS, Division 1

         APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF WASHINGTON COUNTY, OKLAHOMA; HONORABLE RUSSELL C. VACLAW, JUDGE

         Johnny P. Akers, Frederick S. Esser, Law Center of Akers & Esser, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, for Appellant,

         James M. Elias, Rick D. Tucker, Robinett King Elias Buhlinger Brown and Kane, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, for Appellees.

         OPINION

         Larry Joplin, Judge:

         [¶1] Plaintiff/Appellant Bharat Mittal seeks review of the trial court’s order awarding attorney’s fees to Defendants/Appellees Bluestem Emergency Medical P.L.L.C., a professional limited liability company, and Thomas W. Britt, Roger J. Cotner, Holly B. Fouts, Ronald L. Hay and Ruth M. Thompson (Defendants), after the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order granting the Defendants’ motion for summary

Page 936

judgment in Mittal v. Bluestem Emergency Medical P.L.L.C., et al, Case No. 112,890 (Ok. Civ. A.D. II, July 21, 2015) (Mittal I ), and on remand after the Plaintiff’s appeal from the trial court’s initial award of attorney’s fees to Defendants in Mittal v. Bluestem Emergency Medical P.L.L.C., et al, Case No. 113,483 (Ok. Civ. A.D. IV, February 25, 2016) (Mittal II ). In this second appeal from the award of attorney’s fees, Plaintiff complains that, contrary to the specific directions of the Court of Civil Appeals in Mittal II, the trial court on remand failed to make the requisite findings to sustain the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees.

         [¶2] We take the following facts from Mittal II . "Mittal filed suit against Defendants, claiming that Defendants breached various contracts, breached their fiduciary duty and tortiously interfered with his contracts." Mittal II, p. 2. "The district court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment and Mittal appealed" in Mittal I . Id.

         [¶3] "While [Mittal I ] was pending, Defendants filed a post-trial motion for attorney fees and costs." Mittal II, p. 2. Defendants asserted that they were entitled to an award of attorney fees pursuant to 12 O.S. 2011 § 936 and 12 O.S. 2011 § 1101.1." Id. "Additionally, Defendants argued that they were entitled to an award of attorney fees pursuant to the court’s inherent equitable authority to award fees where a party engaged in oppressive litigation conduct." Id.

         [¶4] "The district court granted the motion over Mittal’s objection." Mittal II, p.3. "The court’s order states that it found ‘cause to sustain the motion for each of the different claims Defendants raised[,] [and] [f]urthermore, the fees and costs assessed by counsel for the Defendant, and the time associated thereto, are reasonable time and expenses for this case.’ " Id. "Mittal filed a Motion for a New Trial, asserting that the grant of attorney fees and costs was an abuse of discretion, that the district court failed to apportion the fees, and that the award was not sustained by evidence[,] [but] [t]he district court denied Mittal’s motion" for new trial. Id. Plaintiff then commenced his appeal in Mittal II .

         [¶5] On appeal in Mittal II, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed the trial court’s order awarding attorney’s fees to Defendants and remanded for further ...


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