An appellate court will not make first-instance determinations of disputed law or fact issues. That is the trial court's function in every case - whether in law, equity or on appeal from an administrative body.
Bivins v. State ex rel. Oklahoma Memorial Hospital, 1996 OK 5, ¶19, 917 P.2d 456.

Once a compensation award has become final for want of an appeal or in consequence of an appellate court's decision, any controversy over its meaning and effect must be resolved by resort to "the face of the entire proceedings". The meaning of an award is hence to be divined from the terms of its text, to be construed with the other parts of the judgment roll.
Dyke v. Saint Francis Hosp., Inc., 1993 OK 114, 861 P.2d 295.

For appeals to the Supreme Court, counsel for parties to the appeal should be aware of the following rules for briefing the issues:

A proposition which is unsupported by citation to authority will not be considered on appeal. Witt v. Westheimer, 1938 OK 249, 79 P.2d 250; Mid-Continent Cas. Co. v. Jenkins, 1967 OK 54, 431 P.2d 349; see Vernor v. Poorman, 1916 OK 608, 158 P. 615 (providing "attorneys who present cases here have no right to place the burden upon this court and consume their time in a laborious research for authorities to support their argument.").
Hough v. Hough, 2004 OK 45, 92 P.3d 695

In an appeal we need not consider assignments of error unsupported by convincing argument or authority, unless it is apparent without further research that they are well taken. Beets v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 1999 OK 15, ¶ 9, 995 P.2d 1071, 1074.
S. W. v. Duncan, 2001 OK 39, 24 P.3d 846

An order of the en banc panel vacating the order of the trial court and remanding for further hearing is an interlocutory order not subject to review by the Supreme Court. Hermetics Switch, Inc. v. Sales, 1982 OK 12, 640 P.2d 963.

1. Finality of WCC Orders

Any order of the workers' compensation court which makes or denies an award or otherwise determines the rights of the parties is final and subject to immediate review. An aggrieved party must seek review at the first opportunity. Failure to complain of error at that stage makes the decision final and impervious to any reconsideration. Toney v. Parker Drilling Co., 1982 OK 17, 640 P.2d 1356 (order denying TTD).

It is not critical to reviewability that the allowance or denial of an award put an end to the litigation. Any order, no matter how far removed from the ultimate termination of the claim, is reviewable if failure to appeal from it or to seek review of it will make the decision impervious to reconsideration. Toney, supra at ¶ 2 at 1357. See also Hermetics Switch, Inc., and CNA Insurance, v. Sales, 1982 OK 12, ¶ 4, 640 P.2d 963, 965.
Yeatman v. Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid, 2004 OK 27, 89 P.3d 1095, fn 30

As a trial tribunal the WCC retains exclusive jurisdiction over its orders and awards only during the period prescribed by law for lodging a proceeding for review. One who is aggrieved by a decision of the trial judge has three available remedies. The award becomes final and conclusive upon all questions unless (a) within 20 days after a copy of the award has been sent to the parties, review is sought in the Supreme Court, or (b) appeal is brought to a three-judge panel of the WCC within 10 days after a copy of the award is sent or (c) within the same 20 day statutory period during which review of the original award could have been sought, a trial judge's order vacating the award is issued upon due notice to the parties and after an adversary hearing. Upon failure of the parties to appeal or bring review an order becomes binding and conclusive. 85 O.S. Supp. 1997 § 3.6(A) and (C), infra; Ferguson v. Ferguson Motor Co., 1988 OK 137, ¶ 6, 766 P.2d 335, 336; Snyder v. Smith Welding & Fabrication, 1986 OK 35, ¶4, 746 P.2d 168, 169; Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Heller, 1964 OK 132, ¶ 7, 401 P.2d 184, 186-87; Jones v. Troup-Moore & Hall Drilling Co., 1961 OK 32,¶ 11, 359 P.2d 577, 578; Special Indemnity Fund v. Lewis, 1948 OK 176, ¶ 5, 196 P.2d 684, 686; Kincannon v. American Oil & Refining Co., 1927 OK 221, ¶ 6, 258 P. 741, 742-43, 126 Okl. 84; Bedford-Carthage Stone Co. v. Industrial Commission, 1926 OK 718, ¶ 5, 249 P. 706, 707-08, 119 Okl. 231.
Yeatman, supra.

"[O]rder dismissing the risk carrier as a party respondent in the claim is the functional equivalent of a disposition that denies the insurer's liability for an award. It is hence reviewable." American Investigative & Security v. Hamilton, 1998 OK 134, 969 P.2d 975.

An unappealed, "obvious" error is final and may not be corrected after 20 days of filing the order unless the mistake sought to be corrected is apparent from the four corners of the decision as a clerical or mathematical error. Ferguson v. Ferguson Motor Co., 1988 OK 137, 766 P.2d 335.

Stidham v. Special Indemnity Fund, 2000 OK 33, 10 P.3d 880 (citing Ferguson).

2. Correcting Orders

The Workers' Compensation Court's power to correct judgments and final orders nunc pro tunc extends only to clerical errors or miscalculations appearing on the face of the decision, not to erroneous judicial findings. Orders nunc pro tunc are not designed to accomplish what a court might or should have done, or what it may have intended to do; the function of the nunc pro tunc device is limited in the Workers' Compensation Court to supplying inadvertent clerical omissions and correcting facial mistakes in recording judicial acts that were actually performed.
Ferguson v. Ferguson Motor Co., id.

Issuance of nunc pro tunc orders is also governed by Rule 57 of the Workers' Compensation Court. The rule allows nunc pro tunc changes in any order upon written application, followed by an adversary hearing set upon notice to the opposite parties or by written consent of the parties. A nunc pro tunc correction order made within twenty (20) days of a final order's entry must be entered and sent to the parties within those twenty (20) days.

A supplemental order entered before the original order becomes final is not a nunc pro tunc order if "it addressed an unadjudicated but litigated issue which was not final, rather than correcting the original order to reflect an inaccurately recorded ruling of the trial court." Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. v. Chronister, 2005 OK CIV APP 32, 114 P.3d 455. The original order's silence may be treated as a denial only if the order is allowed to become final. See Brown v. NCI, Inc., 2000 OK CIV APP 78, 8 P.3d 195.

An "obvious" error in the weekly rate to pay the decedent's widow went unnoticed for five months after the death benefits order was issued and filed by the trial judge in Ferguson v. Ferguson Motor Co., 1988 OK 137, 766 P.2d 335. Insurance carrier filed a motion for order correcting the error. The trial judge vacated the erroneous order and entered a new order at the correct rate ($60 per week instead of $163 per week). Widow appealed, and the Supreme Court reinstated the original erroneous order holding:

An award made by the Workers' Compensation Court becomes "final and conclusive upon all questions" unless (a) within 20 days after a copy of the award has been sent to the parties, review is sought in the Supreme Court, or (b) appeal is made to a three-judge review panel of the Workers' Compensation Court within 10 days after a copy of the award is sent or (c) within the same 20 day statutory period during which review of the original award could have been sought, an order vacating the award is made upon due notice to the parties and after an adversary hearing.
The power to adjudicate includes the power to do so wrongly, and an erroneous decision, until it is set aside or corrected in a manner authorized by law, is as binding as a correct ruling.

Ferguson v. Ferguson Motor Co., id.

3. Review of Findings of Fact

Oral remarks made from the bench do not constitute a trial judge's findings of fact. Hedges v. Hedges, 2002 OK 92, ¶16, 66 P.3d 364.

Review of factual findings is governed by the any-competent-evidence standard. City of Norman v. Garza, 2003 OK 111, ¶13, 83 P.3d 851, 855. In reviewing rulings of contested facts, an appellate court canvasses the record to determine only whether there is any competent evidence to support the lower court's factual findings. Id. American asserts this appeal also involves a question of law. Review of contested law is governed by a de novo standard. Yeatman v. Northern Okla. Resource Center of Enid, 2004 OK 27, ¶14, 89 P.3d 1095, 1100. In reviewing rulings of contested law, an appellate court exercises plenary, independent authority giving no deference to the lower court's decision. Id. at ¶14, 89 P.3d at 1101.
Heat Transfer & Equipment v. Cauthon, 2004 OK 80, ¶5, 100 P.3d 722

When the facts are undisputed, a question of law is posed to the appellate court. Questions of law are reviewed by a de novo standard under which the appellate court has plenary, non-deferential and independent authority to determine whether the trial court erred in its legal rulings. American Airlines v. Hervey, 2001 OK 74, 33 P.3d 47.

4. Duty of the Trial Judge

The trial court has a responsibility to make "conclusion of fact and rulings of law" in its orders. 85 O.S. §26B. When granting or denying benefits the trial judge must identify legal basis for the decision and the facts supporting it. This same duty applies equally to orders of the three-judge panel. Dunkin v. Instaff Personnel, 2007 OK 51, 164 P.3d 1057.

Examples of this rule include: Jobe v. American Legion # 7, 2001 OK 75, 32 P.3d 860; Benning v. Pennwell Publishing Co., 1994 OK 113, 885 P.2d 652 (where the panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law are too indefinite and uncertain for judicial interpretation or are unresponsive to the issues formed in the hearings, they will be vacated for further proceedings); Frair v. Sirloin Stockade, Inc., 1981 OK 117, 635 P.2d 597, 599 ("The Workers' Compensation Court must make specific findings of fact responsive to the issues and conclusions of law when an order is entered granting or denying an award."); Flint Construction Co. v. Woods, 1967 OK 51, 425 P.2d 995, 998 ("The defense of intoxication, placed fairly in issue, must be met by an appropriate finding of fact in the trial court, on which to predicate an order awarding or denying a claim for compensation."); Leffler v. McPherson Bros. Transportation, 1964 OK 225, 396 P.2d 491, 493 (order denying workers' compensation claim failed to specify which of alternative asserted bases lower court had relied upon); Butts v. Rose Drilling Co., 1956 OK 325, 304 P.2d 986, 989 (workers' compensation order vacated where legal basis for denying claim not clear); Dixon v. Sinclair-Prairie Oil, 1949 OK 30, 203 P.2d 419, 421 (specific finding of time of claimant's awareness of disability was required for review of denial of claim for compensation based on statute of limitations).

5. Meaningful Judicial Review

Since at least 1949 the Supreme Court has held that the trier-of-fact must comply with the mandate of §26B.

The Workers' Compensation Court is required to make specific, on-the-record findings of ultimate facts responsive to the issues shaped by the evidence as well as conclusions of law upon which its order is to be rested. 85 O.S.Supp.1994 § 26. Findings and conclusions are an indispensable prerequisite for judicial review. When these elements are not present in the trial tribunal's order (or are too vague and uncertain for judicial interpretation), this court will not hypothesize about the evidence or law upon which the tribunal may have relied to arrive at its decision but will vacate the order and remand the claim for further proceedings to be followed by an order that meets the law's standards of a judicially reviewable decision.
Jobe v. American Legion #7, 2001 OK 75, 32 P.3d 860

The Supreme Court recently sent a clear message to the Workers' Compensation Court when it stated the following:

This Court has observed the frequent pattern of such boilerplate orders from the Workers' Compensation Court. That court is duty bound to insure that the three-judge panel, the final arbiter of questions of fact, is presented with an order from which the panel may meaningfully assess the legal and factual basis for the decision. The Workers' Compensation Court is required to make specific on-the-record findings of fact responsive to the issues formed by the evidence. All orders of the Workers' Compensation Court must meet "the law's standards of a judicially reviewable decision." Jobe, 2001 OK 75, 32 P.3d at 864. Thus, this rule applies to an order issued by the trial tribunal and also to one issued by the three-judge panel.
Dunkin v. Instaff Personnel, 2007 OK 51, 164 P.3d 1057

6. Jurisdictional Appeals

For jurisdictional questions appellate courts will review the record de novo rather than accepting the findings of the workers' compensation court if supported by any competent evidence. Garrison v. Bechtel Corp., 1995 OK 2, 889 P.2d 273.

7. Vacation of Default Order

Graves Dairy Farm v. Evans, 2000 OK CIV APP 3, 997 P.2d 173 (failure of employer to appear at prehearing conference)

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