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Hockey League Victorious in Long-Running Workers’ Comp Case Brought by Player

Case Study

Hockey League Victorious in Long-Running Workers’ Comp Case Brought by Player

November 09, 2022
Joshua J. Roberts

A professional hockey player’s attempt to collect Workers’ Compensation benefits for injuries suffered over the course of his career was ended by California’s highest court — capping a six-year battle during which Goldberg Segalla partner Joshua J. Roberts successfully defended our client every step of the way.

The player — a California resident who was born and raised in the state — was seeking Workers’ Comp benefits for “cumulative trauma” he alleged was suffered over the course of several years while playing professional hockey.

Though the plaintiff never played in California, the player asserted he and his agent formed his contract before he reported to his minor league hockey team based in a Midwestern state. The plaintiff also claimed he verbally “Okayed” the contract.

The claim against our client, a national premier minor hockey league, was first filed in 2016 and Josh successfully, initially, defended them before the state Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Josh argued that none of the applicant’s professional hockey contracts were formed in California. Josh asserted all contracts were agreed to and signed outside California, and the contracts themselves precluded any other interpretation of contract formation.

Josh argued too that the player would never have been offered employment with our client without first undergoing a physical examination at the team facility. And, Josh further contended that the plaintiff’s agent did not have the authority to bind the player to a contract, noting the only ones with such authority were the two parties involved — the player and team.

The California Court of Appeals agreed with Josh’s arguments and upheld the WCAB’s decision.

The plaintiff then filed a petition for review with the California Supreme Court. The high court declined to take up the case, bringing an end to the long-running case.