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§ 400. Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims

Oklahoma Statutes AnnotatedTitle 85A. Workers’ CompensationEffective: May 28, 2021

Oklahoma Statutes Annotated
Title 85a. Workers' Compensation
Chapter 4. Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims
Effective: May 28, 2021
85A Okl.St.Ann. § 400
§ 400. Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims
A. The Workers' Compensation Court shall be renamed the Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims for the purpose of hearing disputes relating to claims that arise before February 1, 2014. The Court shall consist of the existing judges for the remainder of his or her term. Each judge of the Court shall continue to serve as the appointment to a designated position on the Court. The terms of the judges by position number shall expire on the following dates:
Position 4 shall expire 7-1-20.
Position 5 shall expire 7-1-20.
Position 8 shall expire 7-1-20.
Position 9 shall expire 7-1-20.
B. Effective July 1, 2020, the Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims shall consist of one judge to be appointed by the Governor, with confirmation by the Senate. The judge shall be appointed for a term to expire on July 1, 2022. The Governor shall select the judge from a list of three applicants submitted to the Governor by the Judicial Nominating Commission. If the list is not acceptable to the Governor, the Governor may request from the Judicial Nominating Commission a list of names of three additional applicants. Any present judge of the Court of Existing Claims may apply to the Judicial Nominating Commission for appointment to fill any position authorized by this section.
C. A judge may be removed for cause by the Court on the Judiciary prior to the expiration of his or her term.
D. Each judge shall receive a salary equal to that paid to a district judge of this state, and shall devote full time to his or her duties and shall not engage in the private practice of law during the term in office.
E. If a vacancy occurs on the Court of Existing Claims, the Governor shall appoint a judge to serve the remainder of the term from a list of three applicants submitted to the Governor by the Judicial Nominating Commission, with confirmation of the State Senate. If the list is not acceptable to the Governor, the Governor may request from the Judicial Nominating Commission a list of the names of three additional applicants.
F. 1. Effective January 1, 2020, the Governor shall appoint an Administrator of the Court of Existing Claims, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Administrator shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The compensation for the Administrator shall be set at ninety percent (90%) of the compensation of a district court judge.
2. The Administrator shall employ and supervise the work of employees of the Court and shall have the authority to expend funds and contract on behalf of the Court. The Administrator may contract with the Workers' Compensation Commission to provide support services or personnel needs necessary to carry out the purposes of the Court and shall supervise the work of any such personnel as necessary to maintain the Court as a Court of Record.
G. The Court of Existing Claims shall contract with the Workers' Compensation Commission to integrate its case management and records Information Technology System into the system of the Workers' Compensation Commission with such integration to be completed on or before July 1, 2022. The Court shall be entitled to any fees generated for the retrieval of such data.
H. The Court shall operate by the rules adopted by the Workers' Compensation Court prior to February 1, 2014.
I. The Court is hereby designated and confirmed as a court of record, with respect to any matter within the limits of its jurisdiction, and within such limits the judges thereof shall possess the powers and prerogatives of the judges of the other courts of record of this state including the power to punish for contempt those persons who disobey a subpoena, or refuse to be sworn or to answer as a witness, when lawfully ordered to do so.
J. The principal office of the Court shall be situated in the City of Oklahoma City in quarters assigned by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. The Court may hold hearings in any city of this state.
K. All county commissioners and presiding district judges of this state shall make quarters available for the conducting of hearings by a judge of the Court upon request by the Court.
L. Judges of the Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims may punish for direct contempt pursuant to Sections 565, 565.1 and 566 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
M. The Court shall be vested with jurisdiction over all claims filed pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Code or previous statute in effect on the date of an injury that occurred before February 1, 2014. All claims so filed shall be heard by the judge sitting without a jury. The Court shall have full power and authority to determine all questions in relation to payment of claims for compensation under the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Code or previous statute in effect on the date of an injury that occurred before February 1, 2014. The Court, upon application of either party, shall order a hearing. Upon a hearing, either party may present evidence and be represented by counsel. The decision of the Court shall be final as to all questions of fact and law; provided, the decision of the Court may be appealed to the Court en banc or the Supreme Court as provided by the Workers' Compensation Code or previous statute in effect on the date of an injury that occurred before February 1, 2014. In the event that an insufficient number of active judges are available to comprise the three-judge en banc panel, retired or former judges of the district court, Workers' Compensation Court or Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims may be designated by the Presiding Judge of the Court of Existing Claims as eligible to serve on such panel. The Governor shall provide to the Court of Existing Claims a list of designated judges eligible for service on the Court en banc. The decision of the Court shall be issued within thirty (30) days following the submission of the case by the parties. The power and jurisdiction of the Court over each case shall be continuing and it may, from time to time, make such modifications or changes with respect to former findings or orders relating thereto if, in its opinion, it may be justified.
N. For an injury occurring before February 1, 2014, all benefits and procedures to obtain benefits shall be determined by the workers' compensation law of this state in effect on the date of the injury.
O. All accrued rights and penalties incurred pursuant to a final order of the Workers' Compensation Court shall be preserved. No accrued right, penalty incurred, or proceeding begun by virtue of a statute repealed by this act shall be abrogated by the terms of this act.
P. Annually, on or before the first day of July, commencing with July 2019, the Administrator shall prepare and submit a report for the prior calendar year to the Governor, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which shall include a statement of the number of awards made and the causes of the accidents leading to the injuries for which the awards were made, total work load data of the Court, a detailed report of the work load of the judges of the Court, a detailed statement of the expenses of the office of the Administrator of Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims, together with any other matter which the Administrator deems proper to report to the Governor including any recommendations he or she may desire to make.
Q. Subject to the availability of funds, the Judge of the Court of Existing Claims may employ one at-will full- or part-time special workers' compensation judge with jurisdiction to hear cases as set forth in subsection M of this section and as may be assigned by the Judge. The special workers' compensation judge shall receive compensation for such services in accordance with the provisions of Section 92.1A of Title 20 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

Credits

Laws 2013, c. 208, § 169, eff. Feb. 1, 2014; Laws 2019, c. 476, § 56, emerg. eff. May 28, 2019; Laws 2021, c. 570, § 2, emerg. eff. May 28, 2021.
85A Okl. St. Ann. § 400, OK ST T. 85A § 400
Current with legislation of the Second Regular Session of the 59th Legislature (2024). Some sections may be more current, see credits for details.
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