Home > Uncategorized > COA: 3 Training Days, 1 Game, and Subs. CA Employment Sufficient for Jurisdiction in Pro Sports Case

COA: 3 Training Days, 1 Game, and Subs. CA Employment Sufficient for Jurisdiction in Pro Sports Case

COA: 3 Training Days, 1 Game, and Subs. CA Employment Sufficient for Jurisdiction in Pro Sports Case

In a recent Court of Appeal published decision, Knickerbockers v. WCAB, the Court of Appeal held that Mr. Macklin, a basketball player, had sufficient connection with California to pursue his workers’ compensation claim here.

Mr. Macklin claimed a CT injury for his basketball career between August of 1981 and November of 1985.  The facts reflected that Mr. Macklin attended three games in California during the CT time, and practiced in California the day before each of these three games, and played in two of the games.  So, depending on how you look at it, he “worked” from four to six days in California during the CT period.

In 1984, he then signed on with a California team and trained played with the Los Angeles Clippers until late October of 1984.

The WCJ concluded that California did have jurisdiction over the case and issued an award of 76% permanent disability.  The WCAB denied reconsideration, reasoning that there was a sufficient connection between California and the Knickerbockers because of its business dealings in California, and there was also sufficient connection between applicant and California, because he did work in California and he was later employed by a California team.

Nor did the Knicks get much help from the Court of Appeal.  Affirming the WCAB, the COA rejected the contention that applicant’s de minimis contacts with California preclude workers’ compensation jurisdiction.

Mini Me

Not this mini mis

The COA put particular weight on the fact that applicant played for a California team during the claimed CT period.  The Knicks answered, of course, that Labor Code section 5500.5 limits liability to the employers of the last year of the CT, and, in this case the Knicks were not the employers as of June 1984, and the CT period is through November of 1985.  The COA rejected this argument as well, reasoning that the distribution of liability is a different question – jurisdiction is at issue and California has it.  (That’s what you get for coming to California!  Next time, have your games and training seminars on a giant barge in international waters, with the California Coast on the distant horizon.  We’ll call it Water Basketball, and we’ll form nautical themed teams like the Sea-Raiders, the Sea-Giants, and the Sea-[other things]…)

Now, wait just a darn tootin minute!  Don’t we have AB 1309 setting some requirements for professional athletes to meet prior to using California as their butcher block?  In fact, I seem to recall something about requiring at least 20% of duty days be in California… Well, yes, that’s correct, of course.  BUT, subsection (h) limits applicability to those claims made AFTER September 15, 2013, so no help from the legislature for the Knicks here.

What’s the exposure to the Knicks here?  Well, the facts as related by the Court of Appeal opinion reflect that the CT is claimed through November 15, 1985, but the last date of employment appears to be October 24, 1984.  If the applicant successfully establishes his date of injury as the last day worked, being October 24, 1984, the exposure would cover all employers back through October 24, 1983, which would include the Knicks, starting on June 29, 1983 (so 93% of the CT period).

But, as the Court of Appeal pointed out, that’s not really before them at this time.

And so it goes, dear readers, and so it goes… have a great weekend! 

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