Ex-NFL Players Sue Over California Workers Comp Ban

Larry Centers and Troy Vincent were among more than 60 former National Football League players suing the organization’s management council to overturn an arbitration decision that bars them from seeking workers compensation in California.

The players were required under a December arbitration award to withdraw claims in the state and banned from claiming they are entitled to the benefits, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in San Francisco. The players contractually waived their rights to file workers’ compensation benefits in California, an NFL arbitrator decided, according to the lawsuit.

The decision must be thrown out because it’s unconstitutional and against public policy and federal labor law, attorneys for the ex-players say in the complaint. The players suing were all injured in California, or claim that injuries they had were aggravated while playing in games or practices in California, according to the complaint.

Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, said there are other federal lawsuits involving athletes who played for football teams from outside California, weren’t injured in California and breached contracts they signed promising to file claims in their team’s home state.

“In all those cases, the federal courts threw out the lawsuits and confirmed the award,” Aiello said in an e-mail. “In addition to all signing contracts promising to file elsewhere, none of the players listed as plaintiffs in this lawsuit had any specific injury in California and they all played for non-California” teams.

Two similar lawsuits were filed in federal court in San Francisco in December.

The case is Centers v. National Football League, 13-882, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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