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Braves sue insurer over claim for injured pitcher


ATLANTA—The Atlanta Braves have filed a lawsuit against Hartford Life Insurance Co., alleging breach of contract on a disability insurance policy the team had on former Braves pitcher Mike Hampton.

The Braves are seeking $4.82 million in the suit, which charges that Hartford Life owes the team benefits for a period in 2008 during which Mr. Hampton was injured and unable to pitch.

According to court documents filed Feb. 13 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, Hartford Life issued a disability policy to the Colorado Rockies in December 2000 when Mr. Hampton signed with the team. The policy was assigned to the Braves when they acquired Mr. Hampton in November 2002. The policy's expiration date was Oct. 1, 2005.

According to court documents, a provision within the policy states that if Mr. Hampton was "totally disabled" before the expiration date, the policy would remain in effect. Further, the policy states that "benefits will remain in effect after the expiration date of coverage if (Mr. Hampton's) total disability commenced during the coverage period."

Mr. Hampton was injured in 2005 and missed all of the 2006 and 2007 seasons after two elbow surgeries. During those two seasons, Hartford, Conn.-based Hartford Life made "daily benefit" payments under the policy.

The Braves are also seeking payment for the days Mr. Hampton was unable to pitch during the 2008 season, but Hartford Life contends that Mr. Hampton was not "totally disabled" before or during the season.

Mr. Hampton injured his pectoral muscle while warming up for his first game back from injury in April 2008, forcing him to miss 117 days of the season. The Braves claim that they are owed $41,208.79 per day from Hartford Life for those days.

Hartford Life declined to comment on the pending litigation. A representative from the Braves could not immediately be reached for comment.