CCL was retained by the Abel Law Firm of Oklahoma City to assist in bringing an appeal challenging the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s recently enacted cap on noneconomic damages in all tort cases involving bodily injury.

In Beason v. IE Miller Services Inc., the jury awarded plaintiff James Todd Beason $14 million for the serious and permanent injuries, pain, and disfigurement he suffered when he was struck by part of a crane that collapsed while being negligently operated by an employee of the defendant. The jury awarded Mr. Beason’s wife $1 million for her separate damages caused by the defendant’s employee’s negligence. After the jury determined the damages, the trial court judge applied Oklahoma’s cap on noneconomic damages, 23 O.S. § 61.2(F), and reduced the jury’s verdict by more than $5 million.

After the court denied the Beasons’ motion to modify the judgment to conform to the evidence and the jury’s verdicts, CCL President Robert S. Peck and Senior Litigation Counsel Valerie M. Nannery prepared the Petition in Error and filed a motion asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to retain the appeal rather than delegating the decision to Oklahoma’s Court of Civil Appeals. Although previous legislatures have enacted caps on damages, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has never specifically addressed whether caps on compensatory damages are constitutional. CCL urged the court to finally settle the matter and resolve whether the statute capping damages violates the state’s requirement for a general verdict, the constitutional guarantee to trial by jury, separation of powers, or the state’s equal protection or special legislation protections.

Plaintiffs filed the appeal on September 22, 2015, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court granted CCL’s motion to retain the appeal on October 6, 2015. The Oklahoma Attorney General has made an appearance in the case.