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Court strikes down exemption in Oklahoma comp law

Court strikes down exemption in Oklahoma comp law

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that an exemption in the state’s workers compensation law is unconstitutional.

Oklahoma workers comp law had prevented oil and natural gas companies from being sued were a worker killed or injured on the job.

In 2014, David Chambers, an employee of RDT Trucking Inc., was working at a Crescent, Oklahoma-based oil-well site picking up wastewater. At the oil well, Mr. Chambers worked on or around a “heater treater” device. While working, Mr. Chambers suffered severe burns that eventually led to his death, according to court documents.

Glory Strickland, Mr. Chambers’ daughter, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owners and operators of the oil-well site, Stephens Production Co., for negligence, failure to inspect the well and failure to warn of its dangers, according to court documents.

Stephens Production filed a motion to dismiss, citing protection under the Oklahoma Administrative Workers Compensation Act, which exempts oil and natural gas companies from being sued when workers are injured or killed. The district court denied the motion to dismiss and found the law unconstitutional. The court found no valid reason for the distinction offered to oil and natural gas companies.





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