Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma, Division No. 1
Dee Ann HELM, formerly known as Dee Ann Cramer, Plaintiff/Appellant,
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma, Defendant/Appellee.
Mandate Issued: 11/14/2019
OPINION HAS BEEN RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION BY ORDER OF THE
COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS, Division 1
FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF ROGERS COUNTY, OKLAHOMA; HONORABLE
SHEILA A. CONDREN, JUDGE
D. Monroe, Ann E. Keele, MONROE & KEELE, PC, Tulsa, Oklahoma,
A. LeBlanc, Matthew B. Free, Jessica L. Johnson, BEST &
SHARP, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellee.
Dee Ann Helm (Plaintiff/Appellant) was employed by Rogers
County as an administrative assistant. Rogers County
terminated her employment and she filed a petition to recover
unpaid wages and a penalty pursuant to 40 O.S.Supp. 2005 §
165.3 of the Protection of Labor Act. The Board of County
Commissioners of Rogers County (Defendant/Appellee) filed a
motion to dismiss.
The County argued Helms claim is barred by the Oklahoma
Governmental Tort Claims Act because she did not comply with
its notice provisions. The trial court agreed and granted the
Countys motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. 12
O.S. § 2012(B)(6). Helm appealed. She argues the dismissal
was erroneous because her action is contractual and the GTCA
does not apply. We review the order de novo because
a motion to dismiss tests the law governing a claim. Dani
v. Miller, 2016 OK 35, ¶10, 374 P.3d 779, 785-86. The
legal question is whether Plaintiffs claim is a tort within
the meaning of 51 O.S.Supp. 2014 § 152(14).
"Tort" is defined by the GTCA as:
A legal wrong, independent of contract, involving
violation of a duty imposed by general law, statute,
the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, or otherwise,
resulting in a loss to any person, association or corporation
as the proximate result of an act or omission of a political
subdivision or the state or an employee acting within the
scope of employment.
(§ 152(14), emphasis added.) Accordingly, we must examine the
petition and analyze whether Helm is requesting relief,
independent of contract, involving violation of a duty
imposed by statute and within the meaning of the Governmental
Tort Claims Act.
Helms petition states, (1) she was an employee of the
County, (2) her employment was terminated, (3) she had
accrued unpaid personal and vacation leave for which she was
not paid, and (4) pursuant to 40 O.S. § 165.3, she is
entitled to past-due wages and a statutory penalty of 2% per
day. The ...