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 the regular season as a precautionary measure and continued to play in the playoffs. During his exit physical for the year, a form indicated that surgery was indicated for the knee, but Sharper was not sure why this was the case as neither the team doctor nor specialist Dr. James R. Andrews had recommended surgery at that point.
Subsequently, Sharper claimed that his knee worsened and in March 2010, when his contract with the Saints expired, an arthroscopic surgery and chondroplasty was performed by Dr. Andrews. Sharper was resigned in May 2010 during his rehabilitation phase and was initially placed on the physically unable to perform (“PUP”) list but received his full salary. Sharper testified that he sustained a new knee injury in January 2011, but did not report this to his team doctors and, in his exit physical, indicated that he had no injuries that would prevent him from playing football. He continued to treat conservatively with injections with Dr. Andrews, who noted in August 2011 that Shaper “should be able to play” that season. However, when Sharper did not receive any offers to sign with a team, he retired. Later, in June 2012, Dr. Andrews indicated that Sharper was disabled from playing professional football, had a 30% impairment rating in the left leg, and a 12% whole body impairment retroactive to the March 2010 surgery.
Ultimately, the trial court concluded that Sharper was injured in November 2009 with an aggravation in 2009 and that Sharper should have filed his claim for benefits within one year from those dates. Because he failed to do so, the Court found Sharper “prescribed” from receiving indemnity benefits, although he was entitled to related medical care. Although Sharper alleged that he received an advance payment of workers’ compensation benefits when he received pay for the last regular season game in 2009, the Court rejected this argument noting that by his own testimony he was held out as a precautionary measure for the playoffs and ultimately returned the following season.
For more, see Sharper v. New Orleans Saints, 2014-0336 (La. App. 4 Cir. 10/22/14), 2014 La. App. Unpub. LEXIS 605 (October 22, 2014).