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Lawmakers agree to limit workers’ comp for non-California athletes

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Ohio. A proposed bill in California would ban players from professional sports teams based outside of the state from filing workers' compensation claims.
(Jason Miller / Getty Images)

State officials said Wednesday that a compromise has been reached over legislation that would ban players from professional sports teams based outside of California from filing workers’ compensation claims.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the proposal would allow claims for cumulative trauma suffered over the course of a career as long as an athlete played at least two seasons for a professional team based in California.

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“The essence of the agreement is to limit the ability of athletes who have never played for a California team to use the cumulative trauma portion of the workers’ compensation law” to file a claim, Steinberg told reporters.

The Times reported in February that California has paid millions of dollars in workers’ compensation claims to professional athletes, including some that played only a handful of games in the Golden State but spent their careers on out-of-state teams.

The amended AB 1309 by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) was approved Wednesday by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

“This bill was strengthened to ensure out-of-state non-specific injury claims have no business being filed in California, while we safeguard the rights of injured workers who are substantially employed here,” Perea said.

The bill would also close the loophole that allows out-of-state athletes to place 100% of the cumulative trauma liability on California-based teams even if they played a small amount of time for that team and most of their career out of state.

“The amended bill strikes a fair and equitable balance between protecting California’s employees and closing an egregious loophole that allows out-of-state claims to be filed in California,” said Ed Lamb, chief financial officer for the Los Angeles Clippers. The bill must still be approved by the full Senate.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com


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