Cory A. DeCresenza

All articles by Cory A. DeCresenza

 

Illinois Senate Proposal to Limit Workers’ Compensation Benefits to 35 Years of Age

A recent Illinois legislative proposal in Senate Bill 12 threatens to reduce the ability of professional athletes in the state to collect long-term workers’ compensation benefits. Under Illinois law, permanently injured workers are able to collect workers’ compensation benefits until age 67. SB 12, which is part of an overall state budget package, contains a provision which would define a covered professional athlete as someone who plays for a professional sports team in Illinois and “derives the majority of his or incoming from playing athletics.”…  

NFL Hit with New CTE Lawsuit in Southern District of Florida

The latest in a string of head injury lawsuits to hit the National Football League was recently filed on November 21, 2016 in federal court in the Southern District of Florida. As awareness of the long-term head injuries arises, so does litigation against professional sports teams in recent years with especially high-profile cases brought against the NFL. In this most recent iteration, 38 named former NFL players have sued on behalf of a group of 141 retired players seeking workers’ compensation benefits for chronic traumatic…  

DeMeco Ryans Bring Lawsuit Against NFL and Houston Texans for Achilles Injury

DeMeco Ryans, a standout linebacker for the University of Alabama and former Houston Texan and Philadelphia Eagle, recently brought suit against the National Football League, his former team, and multiple entities stemming from a 2014 Achilles tendon injury. Ryans, the defensive MVP of the 2006 Cotton Bowl and defensive Rookie of the Year after being selected first in the second round of the 2006 draft, played for the Texans from 2006-2011 and from 2012-2015 with the Eagles. While playing for the Eagles in Houston against…  

Amateur Weightlifter/Santa Barbara Police Officer Sentenced for Workers’ Comp Fraud

Jacob Finnerty was recently sentenced to 120 days in jail, five years of probation, and more than $115,000 in restitution based on charges of workers’ compensation fraud. Finnerty was a former offensive lineman in college and a competitive wrestler and weightlifter who subsequently became a Santa Barbara police officer. In 2013, he claimed a lower back injury arising out of his work duties when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Investigators, however, subsequently discovered that Finnerty was continuing to participate in wrestling and…  

Alberta CFL Players Seeking Right to Pursue Workers’ Compensation Claims

As high-profile claims continue to roil in various professional sports leagues in the United States, the Canadian Football League continues to litigate its own protections for injured players. In Alberta, a three-member panel was created to review existing workers’ compensation legislation to review whether coverage should be provided to injured professional football players. Unlike in the U.S., where professional football players are provided with workers’ compensation coverage, players in Canada are exempt from those protections and afforded one year of rehabilitation. Given that the starting…  

Semi-Pro Football Player Pleads Guilty to Workers’ Compensation Fraud

Jason Fitch, a semi-professional football player for the Oklahoma City Bounty Hunters, recently pleaded guilty to two counts of workers’ compensation fraud. Fitch, a lineman for the Bounty Hunters, alleged that he had injured his knee while kicking a heavy bag during training with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office in May 2014.  However, on further investigation of the claim and after none of the witnesses at the Sheriff’s office could corroborate Fitch’s story, the Attorney General’s office discovered that Fitch had given inconsistent histories of…  

NFL Hall-of-Farmer Ron Mix Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

On May 23, 2016, Ron Mix pleaded guilty in the state of Missouri to tax fraud committed while he was working as a workers’ compensation attorney. Mix, an offensive lineman and former number one draft back for the AFL in 1960, is a former San Diego Charger who was elected to the AFL All-Star team nine consecutive times. After retiring from football, he then earned his law degree and more recently focused his practice on the area of assisting retired professional athletes in seeking claims…  

Ninth Circuit Finds No Jurisdiction in Former NFL Player’s Lawsuit

On May 19, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit bought by Travelers Indemnity Company regarding workers’ compensation benefits paid to former National Football League player Jim Rourke. Rourke, an offensive lineman who played with multiple teams including the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints in the 1980s, filed a claim in California for cumulative injuries as a result of his time in the NFL, including in games played in California. Travelers insured…  

Ex-Knick Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits Under California Law

On October 1, 2015 the Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, concluded that former NBA player Durant “Rudy” Macklin was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Macklin, a former Louisiana State University standout, was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks and played two seasons with the team before being traded to the New York Knicks.  Macklin would later sign a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers though he never played an NBA game for the team.  Macklin alleged: (i) that while he was with the…  

Former Major League Baseball Umpire Loses Comp Appeal Seeking Continuing Benefits

Mark Hirschbeck, a former Major League Baseball umpire ultimately sidelined following a hip replacement and subsequent complications, lost his bid to receive continuing workers’ compensation benefits before the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department. Hirschbeck retired part-way into the 2003 season when it was determined that he needed a hip replacement as a result of a 2002 injury. He received benefits through the New York workers’ compensation system and was subsequently deemed permanently partially disabled. Hirschbeck commenced a separate action alleging medical…  

CFL Adding Additional Concussion Testing Protocol to Sideline Reviews

Like many other professional sports leagues, the Canadian Football League (CFL) is currently facing litigation over concussion-related injuries as previously addressed in this post Potentially as a response to both litigation and increasing public awareness of the long-term effects of concussions, the CFL has recently announced that it will be adding the King-Devick test to its sideline testing protocols for suspected concussions.  The King-Devick test is touted as a two-minute test that can be administered by non-medical personnel and measures a potentially-concussed player’s response…  

Rochester Lancers Disband Over Concerns of Inflated Workers’ Compensation Costs

New York, frequently pointed to as one of the most expensive states for workers’ compensation costs and claims, has recently claimed victim to a professional soccer team due to rising insurance costs.  The Rochester Lancers, an indoor soccer team in the Major Arena Soccer League, disbanded due to a sharp rise in workers’ compensation insurance costs. In an impassioned open letter to fans, Lancers owner Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo cited an 800% increase by the New York State Insurance Fund as reason for the team’s folding…  

Canadian Football League Concussion Suit Decision Reserved

As concussions continue to be a hot-button topic in the world of sports (as has been written on several times in Sports and Entertainment Insider), the Canadian Football League (“CFL”) awaits decision in the CFL’s iteration of this ongoing battle. Arland Bruce, a former wide receiver and veteran of five different CFL teams filed suit in 2014 which is believed to be the first of its kind brought in the CFL.  The lawsuit maintained that in September 2012 he sustained a concussion but was inappropriately…  

Workers’ Compensation Benefits Granted to Exotic Club Dancer Shot at Club in South Carolina

In a March 18, 2015 decision, the Supreme Court of South Carolina granted workers’ compensation benefits to an exotic dancer who was shot and injured during the course of her work activities. Although the legal conclusion was contested, the facts were not in dispute. Claimant LeAndra Lewis worked as an exotic dancer at multiple establishments in North and South Carolina.  On July 23, 2008, claimant was working at the Boom Boom Room Studio 54 when she was struck by a bullet fired during an altercation,…  

Ex-Steeler Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Pennsylvania

In a March 4, 2015 decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania awarded former center Chukwunweze Sonume (“Chukky”) Okobi $779 per week in workers’ compensation benefits, along with awarding over $22,000 in attorney’s fees and costs, due to multiple injuries sustained during his time in the National Football League. Okobi played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2001 to 2007, and then was signed by the Arizona Cardinals in 2007 and Houston Texans in 2008.  In 2009, Okobi filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits against the…  

Former NFL Defensive Tackle Accused of Workers’ Compensation Fraud

Brad Culpepper, a former tackle for multiple National Football League teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Chicago Bears, has recently found himself in hot water over a reality-TV show appearance which an insurance carrier claims is evidence of fraud. Culpepper, who is now a personal-injury attorney in the State of Florida, took part in the “Survivor” reality series in 2013 engaging in physically-demanding tasks.  However, he also reportedly settled a workers’ compensation claim for $175,000 based on a rating of an 89%…  

Reality TV Star “Bridezilla” Charged with Workers’ Compensation Fraud

Anita Maxwell, a guest on Season 4 of the reality television show “Bridezillas” in 2007, was recently arraigned in California on multiple felony charges stemming from allegations of workers’ compensation fraud resulting in improper receipt of over $40,000 in benefits. Maxwell, who also was left at the altar during her appearance on the popular show, was employed by the Cedars-Sinai Health System and came under investigation in 2012 after a claim for a neck, back, and shoulder injury.  Reportedly, Maxwell denied pre-existing conditions although she…  

Darren Sharper Loses Workers’ Compensation Claim Bid Against the New Orleans Saints

Although likely paling in comparison to his recent criminal investigation concerns, former NFL safety Darren Sharper’s legal woes continued as he had a workers’ compensation claim partially-dismissed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal of Louisiana. Sharper, a former player for the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings prior to retiring after a stint with New Orleans Saints in 2011, sustained a left knee injury during a November 8, 2009 football game that was subsequently aggravated in December 2009.  Sharper missed the last game of…  

Red Carpet Makeup Mobile Owner Arrested for Violation of Workers’ Compensation Fraud

Fashion meets fraud in a bizarre workers’ compensation investigation in New York. Ms. Nneka Ingram was previously featured in a June 2014 news article on CBS New York and is a former MTA bus driver who reportedly spent $20,000 on a “bling and makeup mobile.”  A short commercial posted in July 2014 is available on YouTube detailing the origins and services of Ms. Ingram’s business, the Celebrities Mobile Boutique. However, CBS New York has reported that Ms. Ingram was recently arrested on charges of grand…  

Ex-NFL Linebacker’s Workers’ Compensation Claim Proceeds On Basis of Two Games Played in California

As an example of the type of claim likely meant to be curtailed by AB 1309 (previously discussed here), the claim of a former Carolina Panthers/Cleveland Browns linebacker continues to process its way through the California workers’ compensation system. In his claim, ex-NFL linebacker Tarek Saleh alleged that he sustained multiple injuries while employed as a football player for the Carolina Panthers between May 1997-February 1999 and for the Cleveland Browns from February 1999-January 2002. When Saleh was traded to the Browns,…  

What Are the Potential Effects of the Northwestern NLRB Decision on New York Compensation Claims?

Prior entries to Goldberg Segalla’s Sports and Entertainment Law Insider blog have discussed in detail some of the legal and practical issues for college football programs made by the recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision regarding Northwestern University football players. (Recent blog entries have analyzed the ramifications on university athletic programs and student-athletes, as well as the responses of coaches and players.) In addition to the civil liability issues discussed in those articles, particularized problems would arise in the workers’ compensation context…  

New York Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety to Make Recommendations in March 2014

The New York Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety, formed in 2013, was created to “assess, investigate and research issues involving safety and health of jockeys who regularly race at the Thoroughbred racetracks in New York State.”  The task force, comprised of seven Governor-appointees includes various professionals from the racing industry, including attorneys, jockeys, and risk management professionals and is tasked to evaluate the current status of jockey benefits, including “health, life, disability, pension, or other similar benefits” and how the racing industry can…  

Workers’ Compensation Claim from the Fringe (of the Premises): Harrah’s Atlantic City Liable for Claim At Very Edge of Property

Per a January 17, 2014 decision of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Harrah’s Atlantic City (Harrah’s) is liable for a claim occurring at the very outskirts of its property. The undisputed facts of the claim are that Ms. Burdette, a casino dealer for Harrah’s, finished her shift on September 19, 2012. During the course of her exit from the property, she drove her vehicle along a Harrah’s internal driveway and through a Harrah’s security gate, but her vehicle was struck…  

“Cumulative Trauma” California Claim Dismissed by California Court of Appeal

As detailed in prior articles, click here, California has very recently passed litigation in the form of Assembly Bill 1309 an attempt to stem the tide of “cumulative trauma” type claims that have been filed in California by current or former athletes with little or no connection to that state. Although AB 1309 is not discussed in the December 2013 decision of the Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District in the claim of a former WNBA professional, it is clear that California…  

AB 1309 Signed Into Law: New Bar Officially Raised Against “Cumulative Trauma” Type Claims in California

In prior articles (see “Closing the California Workers’ Compensation Loophole: AB 1309 Awaits Governor’s Signature” and “Stemming the California Workers’ Compensation “Gold Rush”: AB 1309”), we have been tracking the status of controversial Assembly Bill 1309, a bill introduced in order to halt “cumulative trauma” claims filed by current or former athletes from across several professional leagues who may have had limited playing time in the State of California, but have filed claims there in order to take advantage of its more-lenient workers’ compensation…  

Closing the California Workers’ Compensation Loophole: AB 1309 Awaits Governor’s Signature

In a previous article (“Stemming the California Workers’ Compensation ‘Gold Rush’: AB 1309”) we previously covered the California’s legislature’s attempt to crack down on “cumulative trauma” type injuries being filed by former sports players who have spent the majority of their careers playing for non-California based teams or who have played a handful of games in California for other teams.  Supporters of the bill have maintained that it will curtail attempts by athletes with little or no connection to the state of California…  

Former Steelers Player Loses Appeal for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Pennsylvania

On August 29, 2013, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled against former Pittsburgh Steelers player Ainsley T. Battles in a claim for workers’ compensation benefits based on a ruling that Battles’ injury did not result in a compensable loss of earnings. The Steelers signed Battles to a one-year contract in 2004-2005, however, his season unfortunately ended during Week One when claimant tore his left hamstring.  The team physician, Dr. James Bradley, performed surgery three days after the injury and Battles underwent a lengthy period of…  

Stemming the California Workers’ Compensation “Gold Rush”: AB 1309

As the Sports and Entertainment Law Insider has detailed in a prior article, California remains a popular site for current or former professional athletes to file workers’ compensation claims with its relaxed rules on the filing of cumulative trauma-type claims.  However, this may be coming to an end shortly. As recently estimated by Gary Toebben, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, 4,500 claims have been filed with up to another 5,000 claims pending, resulting in nearly $750 million in…  

State of Arizona Requires “Temporary Workers” To File Workers’ Compensation Claims in Arizona

On April 3, 2013, the Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, approved Senate Bill 1448 drastically limiting the ability of workers who “temporarily” work outside of Arizona to file claims in other jurisdictions. In relevant part, SB 1148 provides that workers employed in Arizona who “temporarily leave[] this state incidental to th[eir] employment” and are injured must file their workers’ compensation claim in the state of Arizona.  A worker is deemed “temporarily” in another state if the claimant has done work for fewer than 90 continuous…  

Louisiana Court Limits Workers’ Compensation Recovery

On May 16, 2013, the Court of Appeal of Louisiana (5th Circuit), held that former National Football League (NFL) player Daniel Campbell was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits based on his projected NFL salary instead of his pre-season earnings. In June through August of 2009 during pre-season training, Mr. Campbell sustained two separate injuries to his right knee which effectively ended his career as a football player.  Per his contract with the New Orleans Saints, he was to earn $525 per week for…  

NFL Players’ Workers’ Compensation Offset Suit Revisited by Second Circuit

On April 19, 2013, the Second Circuit reopened a claim allowing injured former National Football League (NFL) players from teams including the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and Carolina Panthers to go forward with further litigation against the National Football League Management Council (council) over the size of workers’ compensation offsets that can be claimed by their former teams. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the council are parties to a collective bargaining agreement that incorporates a standard player’s contract into its terms…  

Choice of Law Provisions Bar NFL Player’s Workers’ Compensation Claims

A group of 15 former National Football League (NFL) players, including former Buffalo Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel, have asked the California Northern District Court to overturn a ruling of an arbitrator who concluded that players could not file for workers’ compensation in California due to choice of law provisions in their contracts.  The defendants include the NFL, the Buffalo Bills, and the New York Giants. Under California law, players who have played at least one or more football games in California (even though they…