Oklahoma Supreme Court Hears Opening Arguments In Tulsa Race Massacre Lawsuit

Oklahoma Supreme Court Hears Opening Arguments In Tulsa Race Massacre Lawsuit

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is hearing opening arguments on Tuesday in the public nuisance lawsuit filed by three Tulsa Race Massacre survivors against the City of Tulsa and several other agencies.

Tulsa County judge dismissed the suit back in July of last year, but the legal team for Lessie Benningfield Randle, Viola Fletcher, and Hughes Van Ellis, Sr. announced that they would be appealing the case before the Oklahoma Supreme Court a month later.

At that time, lead attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons said they were confident the Oklahoma Supreme Court would reverse the county decision.

Previous Story: Attorneys Respond To 'Unjust' Dismissal Of Tulsa Race Massacre Lawsuit

"The facts of this case fit squarely within the common law property-based limitations that have shaped Oklahoma’s public nuisance statute for more than a century," said Damario Solomon-Simmons. "The District Court unlawfully imposed on Survivors a heightened pleading standard that has never been adopted by a court in Oklahoma. Survivors adequately plead a public nuisance claim pursuant to the definition provided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in their recent decision in Johnson & Johnson on November 11, 2021."

The hearing began just after 1:30 on Tuesday and ended just before 3 p.m.

The 48-page lawsuit does not only reference the past, but claims the massacre is now being exploited for the city and chamber's gain. The civil suit claims the Tulsa Race Massacre had and continues to have a severe impact on the health and safety of the Greenwood community.

The lawsuit also alleges the city and chamber are exploiting the massacre by promoting tourism for their own gain, at the plaintiffs' expense. Solomon Simmons said this lawsuit is different from a federal case from the early 2000s seeking reparations, in which the courts determined the statute of limitations had run out.

This lawsuit is a public nuisance case.

Solomon-Simmons said the precedent is 2019's landmark opioid trial, where the state of Oklahoma won.

This is a developing story. Bookmark for updates.