Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down part of liability law

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down part of a state law exempting oil and natural gas companies from being sued when workers are injured or killed on the job.

The state’s highest court handed down the ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by the family of a worker who died after being burned at an Oklahoma County oil well site operated by Stephens Production Co.

Attorneys for Stephens argued that a workers’ compensation law adopted by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2013 granted oil and gas operators immunity from lawsuits.

In an 8-0 ruling with one recusal, the Supreme Court upheld a district court judge who ruled the statute is an unconstitutional special law.

An attorney for Stephens, E. Edd Pritchett Jr., didn’t immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.