Reggie Bush’s Stadium Slip Suit Will Go Back to State Court

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On June 3, 2016, a Missouri federal court judge ordered that Reggie Bush’s stadium slip lawsuit be sent back to state court, finding that Bush’s premises liability claims do not bring forth a federal question.

Reggie Bush, former Heisman Trophy recipient and running back for the San Francisco 49ers, sued the city of St. Louis, which owns Edward Jones Dome. In the fall of 2015, Bush was playing a game in the Edward Jones Dome, when another player pushed him off the field. The push caused Bush to run towards a ring of concrete surrounding the field. When Bush’s cleats contacted the concrete, he slipped and fell, injuring his left knee. The injury tore Bush’s ACL, required Bush to undergo surgery, and left Bush on the injured reserve list for the rest of the 2015-2016 season. Many sports commentators noted that this injury could be potentially career-threatening.

Bush isn’t the only player to have injured himself on the “Concrete Ring of Death.” Prior to Bush’s accident, Cincinnati Brown’s Josh McCown injured his shoulder after slipping on the concrete and running into a metal railing. In response, the stadium has installed a slip-resistant surface, but this corrective action may have come a little too late.

Shortly after his accident, Bush filed a complaint in Missouri state court against St. Louis, claiming the “Concrete Ring of Death,” surrounding the field was incredibly dangerous for players wearing cleats. In his complaint, Bush argued that the defendants “negligently permitted and maintained a dangerous condition to exist at the stadium, creating an unreasonable risk of injury to those invited on the field and surrounding surfaces, including [Bush.]” Bush is seeking punitive damages in addition to “lost wages, medical expenses, loss of future earnings, and pain and suffering.”

The city of St. Louis removed the case to federal court, stating that “both parties were bound by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) governing the terms and conditions of employment of NFL players,” and that Bush’s claims were completely preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act.

The Missouri federal court relied upon a Supreme Court decision and found that section 301 does not preempt state law claims merely because the parties involved are subject to a CBA and the events underlying the claim occurred on the job.” For the Missouri federal court, the relevant inquiry is “whether the resolution of the claim depends upon the meaning of the CBA.” Thus, the Missouri federal court agreed with Bush that the duties at issue arose out of a common law duty of care that sports teams owe to their invitees, and not out of particular terms in the CBA.

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