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Former players for the Kansas City Chiefs football team cannot seek workers compensation benefits in California because an arbitration agreement requires them to file claims in Missouri, a federal judge has ruled.
In Kansas City Chiefs Football Club Inc. et al. v. Taje Allen et al., Mr. Allen and other National Football League players filed "cumulative injury" claims with the California Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, according to filings in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo. California law allows NFL players to make a claim in California if they have played at least one game in the state.
The Chiefs and the NFL Management Council filed grievances against the players, arguing that their contracts required them to handle any disputes or claims "in accordance with the laws of the state of Missouri," records show. An arbitrator ruled in 2012 that the players violated their contracts by seeking California comp benefits.
The players appealed, arguing that the arbitration award violated California and federal public policy that prevents employee agreements from waiving a worker's right to seek comp benefits.
District Court Judge Brian C. Wimes upheld the arbitration award in a ruling March 30. He found that California public policy is not applicable because the players' were based in Missouri and their contracts were governed by Missouri law.
Judge Wimes also ruled that California workers comp laws don't necessarily apply to Mr. Taje or the other players named in the Chiefs' original complaint because they did not prove that they suffered "specific" or "cumulative" injuries from playing in California.
"The players' contracts with the Chiefs were made under and are governed by Missouri law," the judge said in his order. "The players performed their contracts by practicing and playing games in Missouri a majority of the time."
Three similar lawsuits from former NFL players seeking California workers comp benefits were consolidated in U.S. District Court in San Francisco last week. The cases involve 67 former NFL players who want to vacate a December 2012 arbitration award that requires them to withdraw workers comp claims in California, according to court records. The players played for the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
Another former National Football League player has filed suit against the league for brain injuries he says were caused by concussions he suffered on the field.