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NFL, Atlanta Falcons sue to remove workers comp claims from California

Posted On: Mar. 21, 2012 12:00 AM CST

NFL, Atlanta Falcons sue to remove workers comp claims from California

ATLANTA—Several former National Football League players are being sued by the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons to keep their workers compensation claims out of California's comp system.

The lawsuit—The Atlanta Falcons Football Club L.L.C. et al. vs. The National Football League Players Assn. et al.—argues that Georgia is the “exclusive jurisdiction” for Falcons players who file workers comp claims, according to their individual contracts.

The former Falcons players filed workers comp claims in California in 2010 and 2011, according to a complaint filed March 5 in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Defendants in the suit include former players Roderick Coleman, Wilrey Fontenot, Tony Gilbert, Kindal Moorehead, Stanley Pritchett, Karon Riley, Brett Romberg, Jason Webster and Dez White.

Court filings show that an arbitration ruling last month ordered the players to withdraw their California comp claims and pursue workers comp in Georgia based on their contract language. The lawsuit filed in Atlanta seeks to enforce that agreement.

A loophole in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement allows players to file workers comp claims in states where their teams are not based. In particular, California law allows players to make a claim in California if they have played at least one game in the state.

The Atlanta case is one of several pending lawsuits involving NFL players who want compensation for their football-related injuries.

Hundreds of former pro football players have sued the NFL and helmet maker Riddell Inc. in recent months, seeking damages for concussion-related injuries and cognitive disorders. Several of those cases have been consolidated in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.