SBD/7/Law Politics

WALL STREET JOURNAL EXAMINES INJURY LAWSUITS

     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).
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