Case Alerts (COCA)

Family Law

Traitz v. Traits, 2023 OK CIV APP 1 – Petitioner failed to appear for trial and the trial court granted Respondent’s Counter Petition for a decree of annulment. Almost a year after the annulment decree, Petitioner filed a motion to partially vacate the decree of annulment on the basis that Respondent failed to file a motion for default as required by Rule 10 of the Rules for District Courts. The trial court granted Petitioner’s motion to vacate the decree of annulment on the grounds that granting the annulment without a motion for default constituted an irregularity in the proceedings requiring the judgment to be vacated pursuant to 12 O.S. § 1031. OCOCA reverses the trial court and holds that neither Rule 10 (nor Schweigert v. Schweigert, 2015 OK 20) require a motion for default judgment when the defaulting party with actual notice of the trial setting fails to appear for trial. To hold otherwise is contrary to the clear language of Rule 10, which excepts matters regularly set on the trial docket from the requirement to file a motion before receiving a default judgment. In the absence of that ground for vacating the decree, Petitioner’s contention that the trial court erred as a matter of law in dividing property pursuant to an annulment was her only remaining basis for setting aside the default decree. This contention also fails; There is ample precedent for a court’s authority in the case of a void marriage to make an equitable division of property jointly accumulated by the parties while they lived together as husband and wife. Certiorari was not sought; mandate issued. 

Workers Compensation

White v. 918 Construction, 2023 OK CIV APP 2 -Claimant filed for workers compensation benefits on July 6, 2020, alleging he suffered a work-related injury in February 2020. In January 2021, 918 Construction moved to dismiss the claim pursuant to 85A O.S. 2019 §69(A)(4). 918 alleged that Claimant failed to take any of the actions required by the statute within six (6) months of filing the claim. The ALJ granted the dismissal and the Commission affirmed. COCA analyzes the aforementioned statute and finds that the claimant did “seek benefits” within the meaning of the statute during the critical time period because the Claimant was during that time period participating in good faith in discovery, including scheduling depositions. Such activity qualifies as “seeking benefits” within the meaning and purposes of the statute. The commission erred in dismissing the claim and the matter is reversed and remanded.