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Oklahoma: Supreme Court Strikes Down Yet Another Provision in State’s Comp Act

April 15, 2016 (1 min read)

In a split (7–2) decision, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma has struck down yet another provision of the state’s controversial 2013 “reform” of its workers’ compensation law. The provision, Okla. Stat. tit. 85A, § 45(C)(5), defers the payment of a permanent partial disability award if the injured employee returns to her pre-injury position and pay. The employee sustained an admitted injury to her knee and had surgery to repair a tendon. After reaching MMI, she returned to her pre-injury position and wages with the employer. Following a hearing, the ALJ concluded that the employee had sustained two percent PPD to the body as a whole. Applying her payment rate, that resulted in an award of $2,261. Because she had returned to her job and pay scale, however, the ALJ deferred the award. The Commission sitting en banc affirmed. The Supreme Court found that deferral statute created an unfair “subclass” of employees and accordingly the statute was an unconstitutional denial of the employee’s due process rights. The Court stressed that the PPD award represented something the employee had lost, for which the employer was liable.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Maxwell v. Sprint PCS, 2016 OK 41 (Okla. April 12, 2016)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 80.04.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.