The meaning of the term "last order" o.s. supp. 2000 § 43(c) that "triggers the time-bar for reopening a claim on changed condition" has recently been provided by the supreme court in Arrow Tool & Gauge v. Mead, 2000 OK 86, P18, 16 P.3d 1120, 1126.
In this case, the supreme court expressly rejected a literal interpretation of this term. the court held that the legislature intended the timeliness of a motion to reopen to be measured from the last order that substantially affects the monetary, medical, or rehabilitative benefits conferrable by workers' compensation law.
If the trial court had not given the term "last order" as used in § 43(C) a strict or literal interpretation, the trial transcript reflects that the trial court would have applied the time period in § 43(C) as a "statute of repose" rather than treating it as a "statute of limitations."
The case of Neer v. State ex rel. Oklahoma Tax Commission, 1999 OK 41, P19, 982 P.2d 1071, 1078-79, provides the most recent pronouncement by the supreme court on the subject of statute of repose versus statute of limitation.
The court stated: "In essence, a statute of limitation is a procedural device and does not start to run until a cause of action accrues, i.e., at that point in time a plaintiff can successfully prove the elements of his/her claim."
The court continued by noting: "A statute of repose, in contrast, begins to run from a date certain, regardless of when a plaintiff may be able to bring a cause of action to successful conclusion." Id. the court also stressed that "a statute of repose marks the boundary of a substantive right." Id.