Appeals Court Sustains Workers Compensation Decisions

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The following summaries of state and 10th District court opinions were compiled by Cale Maddy and Anthony Sammons.

Oklahoma Supreme Court

For week ended July 6

Orlan V. Wilson vs. Lucretia G. Wilson, 1999 OK 65, No. 88,243.

Orlan Wilson sought modification of alimony support for his former wife, Lucretia. On review, the trial court erred in considering only new funds available to Ms. Wilson as a result of cohabitation with another man, pursuant to 43 O.S. 1991 Section 134 C. Because Mr. Wilson also claimed that gifts from Ms. Wilson's relatives enhanced her income, the court should have considered the availability of the gifts as a source of income pursuant to 43 O.S. 1991 Section 134 D. Reversed and remanded.

Carolyn P. Brandt, a personal representative of Jeffrey Karl Brandt, deceased, vs. Joseph F. Gordon Architect, 1999 OK 67, No. 90,798.

Jeffrey Brandt died as a result of an automobile accident where another driver proceeded on an exit ramp in the wrong direction. His mother sued the opposing driver as well as Joseph F. Gordon Architect. Brandt claimed that Gordon negligently designed the ramp. Gordon moved for summary judgment, contending he had merely provided construction and materials specifications for the plan which was created by Paragon/DGI of Forth Worth. The court sustained the motion from the bench and Gordon's counsel moved for settlement of journal entries two weeks later. Before the court finalized the judgment, counsel for Brandt dismissed the case as to all parties without prejudice. The trial court correctly held that its decision was final pursuant to 12 O.S. 1991 Section 683 and precluded any attempt to dismiss without prejudice pursuant to 12 O.S. 1995 Section 994(A). As a result, Brandt is precluded from bringing future action against Gordon in the future. Affirmed.

Tim L. Soldan vs. Stone Video d/b/a PC Tech, 1999 OK 66, No. 89,616.

Soldan managed a store for Stone Video. Soldan requested a salary increase which Stone denied. As a result, Soldan tendered his resignation during the middle of the month. Stone denied payment of $1,000 to Soldan for the last two weeks of the month, claiming that Soldan earned $2,000 per month as base pay plus commissions. Soldan sued in small claims court claiming that he was entitled to the $2,000 each month once the store's sales exceeded $7,500. Soldan testified that the sales did in fact exceed $2,000 in the first two weeks of the month. However, only Soldan's testimony supported this, and nothing else in the record confirmed or negated the testimony. Because the employment contract was less than dispositive on the terms of payment, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Soldan. On appeal, Stone failed to present evidence that the judgment was clearly against the weight of the evidence and that the trial court abused its discretion. Affirmed.

Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

For week ended July 6

Sylvia A. Mapp vs. Stand-By Personnel, Liberty Mutual Insurance and the Workers Compensation Court, No. 92,694

Mapp appeals the Workers Compensation Court's denial of her claim for benefits. Mapp worked for Stand-By for nine weeks, during which she sustained a trauma injury resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome. The court heavily relied on the evidence of Stand-By's medical expert, Dr. Pardee, who concluded, "carpal tunnel syndrome cannot be produced by repetitive activity performed for less than six months." On this evidence, the court's order was sustained.

Cathleen Johnson vs. Special Indemnity Fund and the Workers Compensation Court, No. 92, 644

Johnson sought review of the Workers Compensation Court order declaring plaintiff was not permanently and totally disabled. The appeals court reviewed the order of the WCC's three-judge panel, which vacated paragraph seven of the order. The court of appeals reasoned that the holding the WCC intended was still in force without paragraph seven. …