Pierce Couch’s Pipinich prevailed in a declaratory judgment action


Jake Pipinich of Pierce Couch Hendrickson Baysinger & Green, LLP prevailed in a declaratory judgment action in Ottawa County before Judge Denney on June 27, 2022, wherein plaintiffs’ counsel was seeking to hold 85A O.S. Section 43 unconstitutional as a violation of Article 23 Section 7 of the Oklahoma Constitution. Plaintiff’s husband was killed in an accident and plaintiff’s wife made a substantial recovery against a third-party tortfeasor and brought a companion workers’ compensation case for death benefits before the workers’ compensation commission. Pipinich represented the workers’ compensation carrier and was able to convince Judge Denney that the statute was not unconstitutional, and that the workers’ compensation carrier should be entitled to a “pro tanto recoupment” or credit in the workers’ compensation case against the recovery in the wrongful death case for the amount of the workers’ compensation subrogation lien claim. Many district courts, including Judge Denney himself, had previously found 85A O.S. Section 43 unconstitutional with regards to death cases brought in district court. The client’s potential substantial exposure for death benefits was effectively reduced to zero, if the ruling holds on appeal.

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