On October 4, 2019, Jeremy Ward and Jennifer Ary obtained a ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversing and remanding a judgment adverse to our clients. Our clients, the Plaintiffs, sued Defendant Tamko Building Products in the Oklahoma state court system for the damages caused to the Plaintiffs’ roof due to defects in Tamko’s shingles. In the trial court, Defendant Tamko sought and obtained an order forcing Plaintiffs to give up their right to trial by a jury of their Oklahoma peers in favor of resolving their dispute with Tamko in a private, costly arbitration. Defendant Tamko argued Plaintiffs were required to forego trial based solely upon an arbitration clause printed on the outside of the plastic wrapping paper that covered a bundle of shingles. Plaintiffs disagreed and appealed the trial court’s order to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
In their briefing before the Oklahoma Supreme Court, we argued forcing Plaintiffs to give up their trial rights in favor of paid arbitration was unconscionable because the very nature of the shingle packaging on which the arbitration agreement was printed was designed to be thrown away during shingle installation. Additionally, the Defendant’s shingles were generally installed by a contractor familiar with roofing, not the ultimate homeowner, so the homeowner would likely never even see the packaging once the roofer installed the shingles and cleaned up the jobsite. The Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed with Plaintiffs and found that Defendants’ arbitration agreement printed on throw-away packaging for a product usually installed by a service contractor and never reaching the ultimate homeowner was unenforceable and invalid. Thus, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the case be returned to the trial court, so the Plaintiffs could have their day in court.
After Plaintiffs’ victory in the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Defendant Tamko sought certiorari review of Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the Plaintiffs with the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the U.S. Supreme Court denied their request for relief on May 4, 2020. Therefore, the Plaintiffs will now be able to resolve their dispute with the Defendant in the Oklahoma court system as Plaintiffs originally requested. Special thanks for Karla Gilbride at Public Justice for assisting with the briefing before the United States Supreme Court.