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WALL STREET JOURNAL EXAMINES INJURY LAWSUITS
Published December 7, 1994
In his contract, Knicks rookie Monty Williams, who has a history of an irregular heart beat, "has agreed that both he and his estate waive any right to sue the Knicks should he suffer a cardiological episode on the courts." This is just one of the "many precautions which teams and doctors are going through to limit their liability as pressure mounts to keep athletes in the game," according to a report in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL. Lawsuits against pro teams were rare until recently, but a case involving former 49er Charlie Krueger, who won a malpractice suit against the team and its physician for more than $2.3M in '88, sent "shock waves" through pro sports. Clark Leslie, who represented Krueger, said that since then many teams have "cleaned up their acts." Players now demand injury protection clauses and disability coverage in their contracts, and teams use modern medical advances to properly screen athletes before signing them. But incentive clauses in contracts link compensation to performance, giving "benched athletes an incentive to sue those who keep them out of play." Dr. S. Michael Lawhon, whose medical group services the Bengals: "If I do something that the $5-million a year player claims inhibited his ability to complete a contractual agreement ... I don't have the malpractice insurance to cover that" (Milo Geyelin, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/7).