CLIENT ALERT: If Hackers Target Your Business, Will You Be Liable to the Employees Whose Data Was Stolen?

The question seems to no longer be whether your company will be the victim of a data breach, but when.  When employers collect and store their employees’ personal information, they became potential targets for hackers.  If hackers steal sensitive employee data, employees may be tempted to sue for any damages caused by the hackers’ use of disclosure of that information.  Courts are only beginning to address the potential liability of employers in this situation and have reached differing conclusions. Click here for more information.


CLIENT ALERT: U.S. Court of Appeals Confirms Circuit Split on Whether Whistleblower Laws Require Intent to Retaliate

Several federal whistleblower laws contain a peculiar burden of proof provision.  Under these laws, a plaintiff who believes he has been retaliated against needs only to prove that his protected whistleblowing was a “contributing factor” in the adverse personnel action. Click here for more information.


CLIENT ALERT: Nation’s Leading Bankruptcy Court Recognizes Tribal Sovereign Immunity

The nation’s leading bankruptcy venue has ruled that sovereign immunity bars monetary claims against Indian tribes pursuing debtors in federal bankruptcy courts. Click here for more information.


CLIENT ALERT: From Hugfest to Slugfest: High Frequency Hugging Could Land You in Court

As an employer, must you prevent workplace hugs of affection? Yes, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which last week allowed a female correctional officer to move forward with a suit that her boss’ propensity to hug created a hostile work environment and caused her anxiety—even though she never told him that his hugs were unwelcome. Click here for more information.


CLIENT ALERT: Congressional Office Will Reinstate the OIWA into Title 25 of the United States Code

As a result of recent comments from Indian country, the Office of Law Revision Counsel (the “OLRC”) will reinstate the landmark Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936 (the “OIWA”) into Title 25 of the United States Code. Click here for more information.


CLIENT ALERT: Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements Permitted, Beginning in 2017

On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act (“Act”) into law. The Act allows qualified small employers to offer a new type of health reimbursement arrangement (“HRA”) to help employees pay for their medical expenses, effective January 1, 2017. The new arrangement is called a “qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement” (or a “QSEHRA”). QSEHRAs will not be considered “group health plans” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act”), so market reform requirements will not apply to QSEHRAs. Click here for more information.



Conner & Winters has named three new partners: Isaac R. Ellis, Ryan T. Scharnell and Hilary L. Velandia.  Mr. Ellis’ practice focuses on litigation and corporate internal investigation. Mr. Ellis has represented clients in both trial and appellate litigation matters in state and federal court in a wide variety of practice areas.  Mr. Scharnell’s practice is focused primarily in litigation, oil & gas, construction and real estate. Ms. Velandia specializes in health care law and assists health care providers regarding regulatory compliance, litigation, and transactional matters.  All three work in the firm’s Tulsa office.



Conner & Winters attorney Amber Prince has published an article about “Successor Liability” in the December 26th newsletter of the Arkansas Association of Defense Counsel.  Click here to read the article.



Conner & Winters attorney John Elrod has published an article about “Spoliation in Arkansas” in the December newsletter of the Arkansas Association of Defense Counsel. Click here to read the article.



Conner & Winters is proud to announce the addition of William A. Worthington and Peter W. Arbour to the firm’s Houston office.  Worthington is an experienced trial and appellate litigator with an emphasis in commercial litigation and product related litigation.  Arbour served a NYSE-listed company as its General Counsel.  He has significant experience in mergers and acquisitions, litigation management and compliance matters.


LABOR & EMPLOYMENT NEWS: New Overtime Rules Limiting Application of “White Collar” Exemptions on Hold

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new rules for application of the Executive, Administrative and Professional Employees overtime exemptions set to go into effect this Thursday, December 1, 2016 are now on hold. On November 22, 2016, less than 10 days before the effective date, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction postponing implementation of the new rules indefinitely. Click here to read the complete alert.


HEALTH CARE LAW NEWS: CMS Issues Final Rule Regulating Use of Binding Arbitration Agreements by Long-Term Care Facilities

On September 28, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a final rule revamping and consolidating the conditions for long-term care facilities to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Perhaps the most controversial aspect relates to the final rule’s prohibition against pre-dispute arbitration agreements. Simply stated, a facility receiving funding under either Medicare or Medicaid may no longer enter into pre-dispute agreements for binding arbitration with any resident or a resident’s representative. Click Here to read the complete alert.


56 Conner & Winters Attorneys Named to 2017 Best Lawyers in America Recognition List

Conner & Winters is pleased to announce that 56 of the firm’s attorneys  have been named to the 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and most respected peer review publication in the legal profession. Click here to see the list of Conner & Winters attorneys included on the list.


CLIENT ALERT: Digital Geocaching and Nuclear Security

Pokemon Go is sweeping the world and is creating a myriad of safety and security issues.  Conner & Winters attorney Donn Meindertsma, who specializes in nuclear power plant whistle-blower defense, wrote an update about this for the nuclear industry.  The information is relevant for businesses of all types.  Click here to read the alert.


Valerie V. Hatami Joins Conner & Winters’ Oklahoma City Office

Conner & Winters is proud to welcome Valerie V. Hatami to the firm’s Oklahoma City office.  Ms. Hatami practices in the firm’s litigation section, representing corporate clients in complex oil and gas litigation matters. Prior to joining Conner & Winters, she served as an Assistant General Counsel for the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Ms. Hatami graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma City University School of Law, where she was a member of the Oklahoma City University Law Review and a recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship. While in law school, Ms. Hatami focused on oil and gas law, earning a Certificate in Energy and Natural Resources Law. In the summer of 2014, her article on the regulatory aspects and science behind hydraulic fracturing was published in the Oklahoma City University Law Review.

Conner & Winters Welcomes Michael D. Sutton to its Northwest Arkansas Office

Michael D. Sutton has joined the firm’s Northwest Arkansas office as an associate.  Mr. Sutton focuses his practice on complex commercial and business litigation as well as health care compliance, administration, and transactions. He has experience litigating in both federal and state courts and has addressed a broad array of issues including environment regulations, contract disputes, products liability, intellectual property rights, and trade secrets. Michael also has experience with general civil litigation, real estate transactions, and business formation matters.

Prior to joining Conner & Winters, Michael attended the University of Arkansas School of Law where he graduated first in his class. During law school, Michael also clerked for the Honorable Judge Brad Karren, the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps, and for several law firms throughout Arkansas. He also served as an Articles Editor for the Arkansas Law Review, a Teaching Assistant for introductory Property Law courses, and on the Board of Advocates. Michael remains active in the law school community by volunteering as a judge for moot court and trial competitions.


Conner & Winters Recognized in 2016 Chambers USA Guide

Conner & Winters, LLP is proud to announce that 18 of the firm’s attorneys and five practice areas are included in the 2016 Chambers USA Guide.  Congratulations to: Vic Albert, Gary Betow, Elise Brennan, Teresa Burkett, David Cordell, Bob Curry, John Elrod, Jared Giddens, Robert Melgaard, Randall Mock, Lynn Moore, Ron Petrikin, Kiran Phansalkar, Kevin Redwine, Gentra Sorem, Hilary Velandia, Steve Ward and John Williams.  Conner & Winters practice groups are recognized in the areas of: Corporate/Commercial, Energy, Labor & Employment, Litigation: General Commercial and Native American Law.

The Chambers guides have been ranking the best law firms and lawyers since 1990 and now cover 185 jurisdictions throughout the world. Chambers ranks lawyers and law firms based on the research of its 150 full-time editors and researchers, as well as information submitted by law firms and in-depth telephone interviews with attorneys and firms.  The qualities on which rankings are assessed include technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment and other qualities most valued by the client.


CLIENT ALERT: DHHS Issues Final Rule Prohibiting Discrimination by Health Care Providers That Receive Medicare or Medicaid Funds

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule prohibiting entities that are reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid from discriminating against an individual in the provision of or access to health services or health insurance coverage on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.  Click here to read the alert.