Adams and Reese Partner Chris Kane, in his representation of the New Orleans Saints in a major workers compensation dispute ongoing in the Louisiana Legislature, was interviewed by several notable media outlets, including ESPN, AP, Fox Sports, USA Today, Yahoo! and local news and TV stations as well.
The dispute centers on the formula for calculating workers’ compensation benefits for players injured during offseason or training camp practices, when they’re not earning their full salary. The Saints’ bill would focus on the earnings at the time of the injury; the players want the benefits to be based on a 52-week average.
The battle, as Kane explained, first arose 14 years ago in the court system. The Saints’ position regarding out-of-season injuries primarily had prevailed via litigation, and the bill was introduced this year after several attempts by an employee lawyer to pass a bill that would codify the players’ preferred formula.
Already passed by the House of Representatives, the bill HB1069 passed the Senate labor committee on a vote of 4-3. It now will progress to the full Senate for a vote.
“While the NFLPA has inappropriately and unprofessionally discouraged free agents from coming to Louisiana, they fail to mention that they have aggressively instigated legislative efforts in Louisiana since 2010 in an effort to undo the prevailing case law,” Kane said in an interview to USA Today.
Kane countered that Louisiana “avails professional athletes with one of the more competitive and employee friendly workers' compensation wage benefit systems,” citing systems in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas that provide benefits for non-permanently injured athletes shorter than Louisiana's 10-year period.
“Importantly, this law is not new, and in fact first arose from a professional athlete claim filed in April 2000,” Kane wrote, citing five appeals court rulings since 2006 that have held average weekly wages for pro athletes should be calculated based on wages at the time of the injury only.
He emphasized that HB1069 “in no way reduces any eligible workers' compensation benefits to any potential free agent or current professional athlete in Louisiana” and is a response to the union's repeated efforts to propose an exception for professional athletes.
“After defeating the NFLPA's legislative effort, the Saints did not previously move their bills in 2010 and 2012,” Kane said. “In 2014, after two more consistent cases came from the appellate courts, the NFLPA unsuccessfully tried to change the law yet again. Consequently, HB1069 is now being sought for passage to stop the needless litigation and annual lobbying efforts of the NFLPA to circumvent the established case law.”