SBD/May 6, 2013/Labor and Agents

California Assembly Passes Workers Comp Bill That Would Ban Out-Of-State Athlete Claims

Legislation that would “restrict most professional athletes from out-of-state teams from filing claims in California workers' compensation courts won overwhelming approval Thursday in the state Assembly,” according to Marc Lifsher of the L.A. TIMES. Despite “aggressive lobbying” by professional football players and other athletes, the bill, AB 1309, “passed 61 to 4.” The measure “now goes to the state Senate.” Player unions and their labor backers said that they were “disappointed with the lopsided vote and vowed to continue fighting the bill as it moves through the Legislature.” Assembly member Henry Perea and “supporters of his bill -- the five major professional sports leagues and individual franchise owners -- contended that some California workers' compensation courts have been swamped by claims from retired football players and, more recently, retirees from basketball, hockey and baseball teams.” The state’s “century-old workers' compensation system has turned into a magnet for out-of-state claims because it has the power to approve financial payouts and lifetime medical care for long-term injuries that are not available in other states” (L.A. TIMES, 5/3). The AP’s Laura Olson noted professional athletes “who spent most of their careers with teams in other states would no longer be able to file workers' compensation claims in California” under the bill. California is “one of nine states that allow workers' compensation claims on cumulative trauma injuries, for which out-of-state players are seeking compensation” (AP, 5/3).

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio wrote as government “often does when trying to fix a longstanding problem, California may end up going so far in the other direction that an equally unjust outcome arises.” It is “one thing to erase opportunities for abuse; it’s quite another to push the pendulum too far in the other direction, limiting and eliminating otherwise legitimate claims.” Florio: “Here’s hoping that the legislators focus on crafting a fair outcome, and not simply the outcome that the NFL and other leagues are able to finagle” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 5/3).
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