Player's regular employment in Maryland wins him disability benefits
Case name: Pro-Football, Inc. et al. v. Tupa, No. 1839 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 02/28/11).
Ruling: The Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that Maryland held jurisdiction for a football player's injury and he was entitled to disability benefits.
What it means: Maryland has jurisdiction of a football player's workers' compensation claim when the employment in the state is regular, and not intermittent or temporary, and when the purpose of his employment is to play in Maryland.
A Washington Redskins player had mild lower back pain. A doctor determined that he had chronic degenerative disk disease, but it would not affect his ability to play in the next season since he completed the previous season with the same condition. During a pre-game warm-up in Maryland, the player landed awkwardly after a punt and felt a sharp pain in his lower back. His pain persisted the rest of the season despite treatment with medication and physical therapy. The player sought benefits. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that Maryland held jurisdiction over the player's claim and he was entitled to disability benefits.
The employer argued that Maryland did not have jurisdiction over the player's injury because he was employed primarily in Virginia. The court found that the player's employment in Maryland was regular and not intermittent or temporary. The player was hired in Virginia, but the purpose of his employment was to play 10 games per season in Maryland and other games around the country. The court acknowledged that the player likely spent more time at the practice facility in Virginia, but the purpose of his employment was to play in games.
The player's contract stated that jurisdiction for any claims should lie in Virginia, but the court said that the clause would contravene Maryland's public policy. Maryland jurisdiction was proper.
The employer further asserted that the player's injury was not accidental and was not the cause of his disability. The court said that medical testimony supported the conclusion that the player suffered a sudden, traumatic injury when he landed awkwardly before a game. He immediately sought medical attention and did not play in the game. Before the game, he had only intermittent symptoms and was cleared to play by a doctor. The court also found the injury was causally related to the accident.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 11, 2011
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