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Should professional athletes be able to file workers compensation claims in California?
If legislation currently making its way through Sacramento gets the governor’s signature, it would put a stop to former professional athletes from the six major leagues (NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS) who spent their careers in other states from coming to California courts to collect workers compensation. Currently, California is the only state with statutes of limitations liberal enough to allow players who maybe only played a handful of games in the state to sue for damages decades after the trauma that created a long-term injury.
Assembly Bill 1309 would put a stop to it, and the major leagues are lobbying hard to get it passed, as passage would reduce the amount they would have to pay for workers compensation insurance. Proponents say these cases clog California’s courts, a statement that opponents to the legislation strongly refute. California is the last place these players can seek damages for injuries suffered many years prior whose effects surfaced later in life, opponents of AB 1309 say.
Should California stop allowing these cases to be litigated in our courts? Or should we keep this last port in a stormy sports career open for athletes trying to get justice?
Ted Lieu, California State Senator representing the 28th District, which encompasses much of the South Bay, stretching from Long Beach to Marina del Rey
Mel Owens, workers comp attorney in the firm Namanny, Byrne & Owens representing professional athletes, former NFL linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams (1981-89)