As part of the tort reform law passed in 2009, 12 O.S. § 990.4(I),‘exempted punitive damages from the obligation to post a bond on appeal as a means to stay execution of a judgment. The legislation was declared unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court citing Douglas v. Cox Retirement Properties, 2013 OK 37, 302 P.3d 789. Some attorneys have erroneously rushed to the conclusion that a supersedeas bond is again required for punitive damage awards due to the determination the 2009 statute was held unconstitutional as violative of Oklahoma’s procedural requirements. The attorneys argue that the March 15, 2005, version of the statute is the existing law since the 2009 version was determined to be unconstitutional. The position is entirely incorrect and ignores the Legislature’s 2010 amendment of the statute. The 2010 version, not the 2005 version, is the correct existing law.
The Oklahoma legislature revisited 12 O.S. § 990.4(I) effective November 1, 2010. The procedural defect in the 2009 statute was corrected by the passage of the 2010 version of the statute. Under settled Oklahoma law, the actions of the Legislature are not to be ignored and the courts are expected to follow the statutes enacted. In Douglas, supra, cited by the Plaintiff, the Supreme Court stated:
"Every presumption is to be indulged in favor of the constitutionality of a statute." Id. "It is also firmly recognized that it is not the place of this Court, or any court, to concern itself with a statute’s propriety, desirability, wisdom, or its practicality as a working proposition." Fent, 1999 OK 64, ¶ 4, 984 P.2d 200, 204. "A court’s function, when the constitutionality of a statute is put at issue, is limited to a determination of the validity or invalidity of the legislative provision and a court’s function extends no farther in our system of government." Id.
A procedural defect in a statute can be cured by later adoption or re-enactment of the statute. See Atchley v. Board of Barber Examiners of State, 1953 OK 146, 257 P.2d 302, 304-305, citing Atlas Life Ins. Co., v. Rose, 1946 OK 52, 166 P.2d 1011. Accordingly, in our view the Legislature’s actions in amending Section 990.4 in 2010 cured any constitutional defect of the statute; therefore, Section 990.4 as amended in 2010 remains in full force and effect.