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Volume 24 No. 112

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The NFLPA plans to appeal a district court’s rulings that eight former Saints have to file worker compensation claims in Louisiana, and not California, to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The disclosure was made in a letter sent Thursday to the 9th Circuit by law firm Gibson Dunn, which is representing former Pro Football HOFer Bruce Matthews in his worker compensation case there. Counsel for the NFLPA did not respond for comment after the New Orleans court ruled July 12, so it has been unclear whether the case would be appealed. The NFLPA had earlier this year dropped a similar appeal in another appeals court. The NFL had recently filed with the 9th Circuit citing the New Orleans decision as evidence that Matthews should not be able to use California worker compensation law in his case (a lower court ruled he must use Tennessee law). “I write in response to the July 25, 2012 letter submitting the oral decision in New Orleans Saints, L.L.C. v. Cleeland, which the players intend to appeal to the Fifth Circuit,” wrote Gibson Dunn lawyer Andrew Tulumello. “The NFL is affirmatively trying to restrict every player in the league from seeking workers’ compensation benefits outside the NFL’s preferred, hand-selected states.” Gibson Dunn has become a top outside counsel in recent years for the NFLPA. The NFL wants players to file comp claims in the home states of their teams, and contracts increasingly require that. The NFLPA position is that the right to file in California cannot be contracted away. California has a very liberal workers compensation law that is seen as the most generous in the country.