Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals Reconnects Cox Lawsuit

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals Reconnects Cox Lawsuit

Article excerpt

Back in 2007, Kelly Clifton was trying to save a few bucks. But as a result, he lost more than $750,000.

Clifton, the owner of K.C. Auto Repair, had been told that Cox Communications' telephone service was less expensive and would be a better fit for his small business.

After several contacts from the company, Clifton said he ran the numbers and decided that switching would be a good idea.

"It looked to be about $20 to $30 per line, per month cheaper," he said. "And I'm a small business. So I switched."

A short time later, Cox sent a contractor to install Clifton's new phone service.

"They installed everything," he said. "Then one guy asked me to check the phones; they worked. They asked me to check Internet and it worked, too."

Clifton was also asked to check his alarm system.

"I tapped the buttons on the keypad and they lit up," he said.

At that point, Clifton believed that his new telephone service was up and running.

A few nights later, thieves backed a large truck up to the front door of his repair shop and, with the lights on, stole more than $750,000 worth of tools and equipment. The alarm system had been disabled.

"They cleaned me out," he said. "It was heartbreaking. They took tools that are no longer being made. They stole everything that rolled, that was on wheels."

A police investigation showed that Clifton's alarm system had not been properly installed, nor was it connected to the telephone lines.

"The policeman told me it was an inside job," he said. "They said that the telephone lines had just been shoved back behind the alarm box."

A month later, Clifton filed a lawsuit against Cox Cable, claiming gross negligence in failing to reconnect his alarm system.

"Plaintiffs also alleged damages from the theft of plaintiffs' customers' vehicles and damage to the reputation and goodwill of their business," according to a court filing.

But though Clifton had sought to solve his problem using the legal system, his summons and petition to Cox Cable Inc. were returned. Clifton and his attorney then attempted to serve Cox in care of the Corporation Company.

"A representative of CT (Corporation Company) responded by letter dated May 20, 2009, advising that the summons and petition were being returned because 'records indicate that CT represents more than one entity beginning with the same name: Cox Cable Inc.,'" according to a court filing. "The letter further stated that they 'must be provided with the full name of the entity for which it is intended' before they could properly process the summons and petition."

Clifton tried again.

In a letter dated May 2009, Mark Stanley, one of Clifton's Tulsa attorneys, wrote that state records showed that Corporation Company was the only registered agency for all Cox Cable entities within Oklahoma.

"The next day, the Corporation Company responded returning counsel's letter and stating that 'Cox Cable Inc. …

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