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Appeals panel reduces Oklahoma legislator's worker's comp award

An appeals panel has upheld a controversial ruling that state Rep. Mike Christian is due workers' compensation benefits for injuries suffered in a traffic accident driving to the Capitol. The panel, however, reduced his award by about $10,000.
by Nolan Clay Published: October 11, 2012

The appeals panel did modify findings by the trial judge on how seriously Christian was hurt.

The trial judge had found Christian has an 18 percent permanent partial disability to his neck from the accident and an 18 percent permanent partial disability to his lower back from the accident.

The appeals panel found Christian has a 20 percent permanent partial disability to his neck but only a 10 percent permanent partial disability to his lower back. Those changes resulted in a reduced award of $51,300.

Christian actually will get only $41,040 after his attorney's fee is deducted from the award.

His attorney, Richard Bell of Norman, was critical of the reduction. He noted that two of the three judges who decided the appeal were appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin.

“She has appointed conservative judges as she promised the business community that she would. In this instance, obviously, they felt like the insurance company should keep $10,000 of” the award the original judge gave, Bell said.

Bell said he hopes that insurance companies will reduce the premiums they charge businesses, like his own law firm, “when these judges write lower orders.” He added, “But don't hold your breath.”

It was the third time Christian, 42, had been awarded benefits in workers' compensation court. The other two times involved injuries suffered while a trooper with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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