Professional Sports Unions Blast Illinois Workers’ Compensation Proposal

As discussed previously on the Sports and Entertainment Law Insider last month, Illinois has introduced a Senate Bill to limit the age that an injured Illinois professional athlete can collect workers’ compensation benefits to the age of 35. Since that time, professional sports unions have come out strongly in opposition to the measure, including the National Football League’s Player Association (NFLPA) and the Major League Soccer Player’s Union.

The NFLPA, after previously warning that the proposed measure could result in free agents being cautioned against …

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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.” …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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