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Oklahoma high court rejects alternative workers comp system challenge

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected assuming jurisdiction over a lawsuit alleging that the state’s alternative workers compensation system is unconstitutional.

The state’s high court ruled 7-2 on Monday to not take up Judy Pilkington et al. v. State of Oklahoma et al., according to the Oklahoma Supreme Court website.

Ms. Pilkington and Ms. Lee both were injured on the job last September, and their claims for benefits were denied by their respective employers, Dillard’s Inc. and Swift Transportation Co., according to their petition to the court.

Oklahoma enacted a law last year that allows employers with at least 100 workers and $1 million in net assets, among other conditions, to opt out of the state’s workers comp system by providing an alternative benefit plan for injured workers.

Both Dillard’s and Swift Transportation opted out of the system and provide their alternative benefit plans.

Plaintiffs in Pilkington argued that the Oklahoma law is unconstitutional because it includes no due process protections.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak, who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, applauded the state Supreme Court’s decision.

“My department has worked to ensure that we are following both the letter and the spirit of the law so that the benefits provided by employers to protect their employees are exactly what our legislature and (Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin) developed,” Mr. Doak said Tuesday in a statement.