Part of Oklahoma Workers’ Comp Law Overturned by State’s High Court

October 5, 2017

A divided Oklahoma Supreme Court has overturned part of Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation law concerning how workers are compensated for their on-the-job injuries.

The court handed down the 5-3 decision with one recusal on Oct. 3 in a lawsuit filed by Hobby Lobby Stores employee Brandon Gibby, who was injured when he fell from a pallet jack at work in February 2014.

The ruling says Hobby Lobby provided temporary total disability and medical benefits, but objected when Gibby sought permanent partial disability, claiming the law’s forfeiture provision prohibited him further benefits because he had missed medical appointments without a valid excuse.

Under the challenged provision in the law, an injured worker who misses two or more scheduled appointments for treatment without a valid excuse would no longer be eligible to receive benefits under the act. Section 57 B of the statute states that the “inability to get transportation to or from the appointment is never an extraordinary circumstance or valid excuse.”

The court struck down that portion of the law, ruling it violates the adequate remedy provision of the Oklahoma Constitution.

The Oklahoman reported that with the current ruling, 44 provisions of the state’s Administrative Workers Compensation Act enacted in 2013 have been struck down.

Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office declined comment on the ruling.

The case is Brandon Gibby v. Hobby Lobby.