NFL Players Gain Victory Over League in Workers’ Comp Dispute

Decades-long argument stopped by permanent injunction favoring players

A more-than-thirty-year-long dispute between football players and the National Football League has finally been settled with a permanent injunction that restricts the right of the League to collect a reimbursement of workers’ compensation benefits paid to players.

As reported by NU Online News Service, Judge Paul A. Crotty ruled that teams could only collect an offset, or reimbursement, based on a formula that calculated the time period during which players received salary and workers’ compensation benefits concurrently. Teams had been pushing to collect dollar-for-dollar reimbursements—the entire sum of comp benefits provided to a player, but the judge wasn’t having any of it.

Despite having won the case on every level of litigation, attorney Adam J. Kaiser, who represents the players, said that he’d been battling the teams for 7 years. This latest ruling, he said, was "incredibly important," since players could be dropped regardless of contracts if they were hurt and couldn’t play. In addition, former players don’t get post-employment health insurance.

Kaiser commented in the report, "The NFL talks a good game when it comes to taking care of its players but they despise them. Injured players just cost them money."

The teams kept trying to find ways around all the previous rulings, claiming that they only applied to specific players in specific instances, and kept insisting on full reimbursement until Crotty issued his injunction. While he stopped short “at this juncture” of holding the league in contempt, as the players had requested, for the NFL’s constant attempts to circumvent his ruling, he wrote, “The case here involves an attempt to continuously re-arbitrate the interpretation of the same contractual provision. The court considered and rejected all of [the teams’] other arguments in opposition to this motion.”

Currently the players are locked out in the wake of the expiration on March 11 of their collective bargaining agreement.

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