FEELER V. CITY OF TULSA, 2021 OK CIV APP 45

Opinion:Feeler v. City of Tulsa, 2021 OK CIV APP 45
Subject matter:Workers’ Compensation
Date Decided:April 12, 2021; Mandate Issued: November 17, 2021
Trial Court:N/A
Route to this Court:Appeal from Order of Workers’ Compensation Commission; Assigned to Court of Civil Appeals, Division III.
Facts:In 2017, Feeler sustained a compensable injury governed by the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act (AWCA). Previously, Feeler had received 310.85 weeks of permanent partial disability (PPD) for injuries predating AWCA. Feeler’s prior injuries occurred when the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) allowed a maximum of 520 weeks of PPD. Feeler argued that he had a vested right to the higher maximum in effect at the time of his earlier injuries and that the 350 weeks of PPD provided in AWCA applies only to injuries sustained after the effective date of AWCA. The administrative law judge found that Feeler was entitled to no more than 39.15 weeks of PPD (maximum of 350 under AWCA less 310.85 he previously received under WCA). The Workers’ Compensation Commission affirmed and Feeler appealed. 
Standard of Review:The facts are not in dispute and the issue of whether the Commission properly applied AWCA’s 250 weeks PPD maximum in ti scase is a question of law reviewed de novo
Analysis:It is settled that the law in effect at the time of the injury controls both the award of benefits and the appellate standard of review where workers’ compensation is concerned. Feeler had no vested right to additional PPD until his 2017 injury. Therefore, he had no vested right to PPD under the 520 weeks maximum provided in the WCA. 
Outcome:Affirmed
Vote:Swinton, C.J. (author), Pemberton, P.J. specially concurs and Bell, J, dissents. 
Other: Petition for Cert denied 8-0..