SBJ/January 23-29, 2012/Labor and Agents

NFL workers’ compensation court cases

Cleeland, NFLPA v. NFL

Eight former New Orleans Saints players filed workers’ comp claims in California despite language in their contracts restricting claims to Louisiana. The NFL won an arbitrator’s ruling and sued the players and the NFLPA in August 2011 to enforce that judgment.

STATUS:  The NFLPA and NFL have filed briefs stating their positions.

Haynes, NFLPA v. Chicago Bears

Three former Chicago Bears players filed workers’ compensation claims in California, contrary to their contracts. A federal court ruled against the players in September 2011.

STATUS:  The case is now on appeal in the 7th Circuit.

NFLPA, Matthews v. NFL, Tennessee Titans

Bruce Matthews filed a workers’ comp claim in California, despite his contract saying he must do so in Tennessee. This sparked an arbitrator’s decision that Matthews could file in California but using Tennessee law, a ruling Matthews appealed but lost in California federal court in January 2011.

STATUS:  The case is on appeal in the 9th Circuit.

Miami Dolphins v. Newson

Former Miami Dolphins player Kendall Newson filed a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania, contrary to his contract, which stipulated he must do so in Florida. The Dolphins sued, but a Pennsylvania lower federal court ruled in Newson’s favor in May 2011.

STATUS:  No appeal has been filed.

Pro-Football Inc. (Redskins) v. Tupa

Former Washington Redskins player Tom Tupa filed a workers’ compensation claim in Maryland, but his contract stipulated he must do so in Virginia. A Maryland state court ruled in Tupa’s favor in 2009, and a higher state court ruled in favor of the punter last year.

STATUS:  The case is on appeal within the state’s court system.

Brache v. Tampa Bay Storm*

Ignacio Brache, a kicker with the AFL Tampa Bay Storm, filed a workers’ comp claim in California, contrary to the AFL CBA. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board of California in 2010 upheld a ruling in the player’s favor.

  No further actions.

* Brache is not an NFL case, but NFLPA lawyers cite it as evidence that private employment contracts cannot supersede California’s workers’ comp laws and that it specifically shows even a football CBA cannot trump state policy.

Source: Federal and Maryland court filings

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