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State Supreme Court Overturns Law Protecting Oil, Gas Companies From Lawsuits

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OK Supreme Court (AP photo) OK Supreme Court (AP photo)

On the heels of Monday's tragic explosion, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has overturned a law protecting oil and gas companies from lawsuits when accidents happen.  

The ruling says oil and natural gas companies can now be sued when a worker is killed or injured on the job.

The unanimous decision stemmed from a 2014 case where a man was killed after a fire at a well site in Crescent. 

Before Tuesday's ruling, oil and gas companies were immune to lawsuits as a part of a 2013 set of laws meant to prevent frivolous lawsuits to keep insurance costs down for doctors and companies. 

In the ruling, the Court wrote the law was unconstitutional because it treated oil and gas differently than other industries, saying in part, "No valid reason exists for the special treatment of the oil and gas industry." 

All of this does come on the heals of an explosion and fire in Pittsburg County where five rig workers were killed. Nationwide, workers in the oil and gas industry have a fatality rate that is seven times higher than all other industries. 

Right now, it's unclear if the victim's families in Pittsburg County will take advantage of the new ruling but it will be something we'll be watching. 

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