Pang prevails on complex jurisdiction issue involving a former NBA player

Legal Decision

Adelson McLean attorney, Michael J. Pang, recently went to trial and obtained a decision finding our client, the insurance carrier for the Tulsa Fast Breakers of the CBA, was not liable for the work comp claim of a former basketball player alleging a cumulative trauma injury to multiple body parts as a result of his professional basketball career.

Other professional basketball teams settled the case via Compromise and Release (C&R) around the sole remaining defendant, Tulsa Fast Breakers of the CBA. However, the employment with the Fast Breakers was outside the last year of the cumulative trauma injury (CT).  The team on which the applicant played several years after his time with the Fast Breakers, the Rapid City Thrillers, participated in the original C&R.  

Applicant’s counsel turned around and argued there was no valid jurisdiction against the Thrillers and that the Thrillers did not have valid workers’ compensation coverage in California, so the CT liability per Labor Code Section 5500.5 should roll backward to the next team in our client’s career on which there was clear California jurisdiction, the Fast Breakers.

Note: Labor Code §5500.5(a) states that liability for occupational disease or cumulative injury claims shall be limited to those employers who employ the employee during a one-year period immediately preceding either the date of injury pursuant to §5412 or the last date on which the employee was employed in an occupation exposing him or her to the hazards of the occupational disease or cumulative injury, whichever occurs first.  If none of the employers in the last year of the CT have work comp coverage, then liability rolls backward to the next employer that has valid California work comp coverage.

Trial judge found that the Rapid City Thrillers admitted they had California work comp coverage and stipulated to subject themselves to California jurisdiction, and therefore the Fast Breakers have no liability as they are outside the last year of the CT ending with the employment with the Thrillers. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) has taken the case under further review.

Congratulations, Michael!

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