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Toll worker struck by ambulance cannot sue: Oklahoma high court

toll booth

An injured toll collector cannot sue over injuries she suffered after an ambulance collided with her tollbooth because of statutory immunity and because she already obtained workers compensation benefits for the injuries, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Shannon Garst worked as a toll collector at an Interstate 44 tollbooth in Newcastle when she was struck by a speeding ambulance driver in June 2020 who was transporting a patient from Jackson County Memorial Hospital in Altus to an Oklahoma City facility.

Ms. Garst filed for workers comp that same month and filed a lawsuit in November 2021 against the driver and the Jackson County Emergency Medical Service District.

Ms. Garst sought a determination from the court that medical districts and their boards of trustees are separate legal entities, and that medical districts should be treated as private corporate entities for the purposes of litigation even if their boards are governmental entities immune to suit.

CompSource Mutual Insurance Co. later joined the litigation seeking reimbursement for workers compensation benefits awarded to Ms. Garst.

The medical district argued that both it and the ambulance driver were immune from suit.

The high court ruled medical districts are immune to litigation because they aren’t distinct from their board of trustees. 

It said medical districts are no different from municipalities and counties, which also enjoy statutory immunity.