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Judge Holds One Game in CA Establishes Career-long Jurisdiction

Today’s blog post is appropriately started with the words of one of America’s most profound and provocative modern poets – Shawn Corey Carter (also known as the rapper Jay-Z):

If you’re having cornerback problems, I feel bad for you son; I got 99 problems, but work comp. ain’t one.

Professional football has once again tackled (get it? Tackled? Football?) California workers’ compensation issues.  The latest claim to fall off the Ridiculous Tree and hit every branch on the way down is that of Michael Jameson v. Cleveland Browns.

Michael Jameson is a former cornerback who played three seasons for the Cleveland Browns (2001-2003) after playing college football for Texas A&M University.  As the names “Cleveland” and “Texas” suggest, Jameson had not been employed in California until he played one game here for the Browns.  This was the only game in his career that took place in California.  Applicant claimed that his career-wide cumulative trauma should be adjudicated under California law by a California WC

This topic may sound familiar as it was the subject of a 3-part post on California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board jurisdiction over visiting employees.

The workers’ compensation Judge ruled that California did have jurisdiction over the matter because Labor Code section 3600.5(b) does not apply.  The WCJ found that the defense had not provided admissible evidence with respect to Ohio’s laws proving that applicant had an available claim in Ohio.

Your humble blogger’s favorite quote from the WCJ? “Since the applicant played in that game, and paid California taxes, the California Courts should be protective of California taxpayers and extend their jurisdiction to them to protect their rights as given to them by the California Legislature. Certainly, in other cases, this WCJ and all WCJs are very concerned with those other taxpayers, the employers, who undertake payroll taxes, business “licenses,” which are, of course, taxes, and countless other fees and extortions to ensure the pay and pension of California’s public servants. 

The defense attorney had cited Ohio cases and statutes, but the WCJ found that those citations were in the attorney’s brief and, therefore, were not “evidence.”  In all fairness, this is true – cases are not evidence or facts, but law.

On review, the WCAB granted reconsideration, ordering the WCJ to allow the parties to present additional evidence both as to the extent that the employer’s self-insurance covers out-of-state injuries and the law in Ohio.   It appears that it may be necessary for out-of-state employers to print out cases and statutes, mark them as exhibits, and move them into evidence.  Hopefully, the same rule will not one date apply to California case-law and statutes as well.

Categories: Jurisdiction