Widow of Oklahoma State basketball coach awarded $100,000, plus weekly benefits

The widow of Oklahoma State University women's basketball coach Kurt Budke was awarded $100,000 in a death claim in the state workers' compensation court. His three children were awarded $50,000.
by Nolan Clay Modified: July 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: July 23, 2013

Kurt Budke's children are now 23, 21 and 17, records show.

The family also was awarded up to $10,000 for funeral expenses.

OSU paid the lump sum awards and pays the weekly benefits itself because it provided its own insurance on workers' compensation claims, records show.

The parents of the killed assistant coach also are suing the estates of the pilot and his wife in Kay County District Court. The parents did not file a death claim in Workers' Compensation Court.

Under the comp law, the most Serna's parents could have received from a death claim was $8,000 in funeral expenses. Attorneys for the parents did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

System overhaul

The $100,000 lump sum payment to Shelley Budke is the maximum permitted by law. Legislators this year considered reducing the death claim benefits in the bill that overhauled the comp court system.

Instead, they left the death benefits intact, according to workers' compensation attorney Bob Burke, who is an expert on comp laws.

The maximum lump sum award to a widow in a death claim changed from $10,000 to $20,000 in 1995. The Legislature increased that initial award to a widow to its current level, $100,000, in 2005.

Since Jan. 1, 2012, more than 130 death claims have been filed in Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court. Several involved workers who died on the job in traffic accidents.

Most death claims are uncontested.


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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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