Opinion:Mitchell v. City of Okmulgee, 2021 OK CIV APP 22
Subject matter:Retaliatory Discharge
Date Decided:August 28, 2020; mandate issued June 16, 2021
Trial Court:Okmulgee County; Judge Waters
Route to this Court:Appeal from Order granting summary judgment to fire chief. 
Facts:Fire chief for the City of Okmulgee was injured on the job in October 2013. He filed a workers’ compensation claim and started receiving temporary total disability benefits. Per 11 O.S Supp. 2012 § 49-11 he continued to receive his full salary and benefit and in exchange assigned his TTD benefits to the City. City sent him a letter advising him that his 12 months of paid injury leave was about to expire and that his medical records indicated he could not return to work. Letter advised that the chief had declined alternate position, and as such, City had no choice but to terminate him. Upon termination, the chief filed this action for retaliatory discharge and due process violations. The trial court granted summary judgment to the fire chief and entered damages for $120,000. City appealed. Case was assigned to the Court of Civil Appeals, Division III. 
Standard of Review:De novo. 
Analysis:COCA held that 11 O.S Supp. 2012 § 49-11 said it “applied notwithstanding the workers’ compensation provisions of Title 85 related to temporary total disability benefits,” and as such, workers’ compensation statute that prohibited discharging an employee during his TTD period did not apply. COCA also found no due process violation because the City provided a good and sufficient cause for termination, and as such, no protected right to continued employment. Even so, the process was sufficient because the City provided him with a written notice, and the notice specifically advised him that if he disagreed he could provide updated information, which he didn’t do. 
Outcome:Reversed and remanded for further proceedings. 
Vote:Mitchell, J., Goree, J., and Swinton, V.C.J., concur.  
Other: Cert. denied; J. Gurich dissented to denial of cert. By separate writing, arguing whether 11 O.S Supp. 2012 § 49-11 renders 85 O.S. 2011 § 341 inapplicable is an issue of first impression that the Court should address.