Hayes v. LogistiCare Sols., 119144

CourtUnited States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtBay Mitchell, Judge
PartiesJERRY HAYES, as Special Administrator for the Estate of Shannon Moyer, Deceased, Plaintiff/Appellant, v. LOGISTICARE SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendant/Appellee, and MORGAN 24 HOUR MEDICAL ESCORT, LLC, and NICHOLAS DECAMP, Defendants.
Docket Number119144
Decision Date02 September 2021

2021 OK CIV APP 38

JERRY HAYES, as Special Administrator for the Estate of Shannon Moyer, Deceased, Plaintiff/Appellant,



No. 119144

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division I

September 2, 2021

Mandate Issued: 09/30/2021


Michaal E. Carr, CARR & CARR, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Appellant,

William S. Leach, Jessica L. Dickerson, McAfee & Taft, a Professional Corporation, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Appellee.

Bay Mitchell, Judge

¶1 Plaintiff/Appellant Jerry Hayes (Hayes), as Special Administrator of the Estate of Shannon Moyer (Moyer), seeks review of the trial court's summary judgment order finding Defendant/Appellee LogistiCare Solutions, LLC (LogistiCare) was not the principal of Defendant Morgan 24 Hour Medical Escort, LLC (Morgan Medical). After de novo review, we agree that Morgan Medical was not the agent of LogistiCare. However, because the court failed to fully consider Hayes' alternative theory of liability, it erred by granting judgment to LogistiCare as a matter of law. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

¶2 SoonerRide is a state-wide, non-emergency transportation benefit available to members of Oklahoma's Medicaid program, SoonerCare. In 2018, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority awarded LogistiCare a contract to administer the SoonerRide program on its behalf. SoonerCare participants request transportation through LogistiCare, and LogistiCare assigns the job to a local third-party transportation provider. Morgan Medical is one of LogistiCare's contracted transportation providers.

¶3 Moyer was involved in an accident on February 24, 2018 while being transported by Nicholas Decamp, a driver for Morgan Medical. Decamp allegedly drove the vehicle without ensuring Moyer was belted into her wheelchair. During the trip, he braked suddenly, causing Moyer to fall out of her chair and break her leg. He transported her to the hospital, where she died thirty days later of "respiratory failure due to volume overload and pneumonia" with multiple contributing factors.

¶4 Hayes, as special administrator of Moyer's estate, brought an action against Decamp, Morgan Medical, and LogistiCare seeking recovery for her wrongful death. The petition lists three alternative theories of liability against LogistiCare. First, Hayes alleged LogistiCare was liable because Morgan Medical and Decamp were its agents. Second, he claimed LogistiCare was liable for its negligence in hiring Morgan Medical. Finally, he argued LogistiCare was liable because the work performed was inherently dangerous.

¶5 Hayes moved for partial summary judgment against LogistiCare on the issue of agency, arguing Morgan Medical was LogistiCare's agent because LogistiCare exercised significant control over Morgan Medical. LogistiCare filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on the same issue. It contended the parties' contract expressly stated Morgan Medical was an independent contractor. It argued the contract's "common sense" vehicle and driver safety provisions were required by LogistiCare's own contract with the State and did not demonstrate that LogistiCare had a right to control Morgan Medical. It claimed it had no control over Morgan Medical's daily operations and had made no decisions that were causally related to the accident. In a January 22, 2020 order, the trial court found there were no genuine issues of material fact, denied Hayes' motion for summary judgment, and granted LogistiCare's motion. Hayes appeals.

¶6 Summary judgment is appropriate where the record establishes no genuine issue of material fact and the prevailing party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Miller v. David Grace, Inc., 2009 OK 49, ¶10, 212 P.3d 1223. Whether summary judgment was properly granted is a question of law which we will review de novo. Barker v. State Insurance Fund, 2001 OK 94, ¶7, 40 P.3d 463. Summary judgment should be denied if reasonable persons might reach different inferences or conclusions from the undisputed facts. Bird v. Coleman, 1997 OK 44, ¶20, 939 P.2d 1123. "In a de novo review, we have plenary, independent and non-deferential authority to determine whether the trial court erred in its application of the law and whether there is any genuine issue of material fact." Barker, ¶7.

¶7 Generally, "a person who performs work through an independent...

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