The 4th District Court of Appeal this week ordered publication of its ruling finding that an out-of-state football player could not pursue a cumulative trauma claim in California.
The court had released its ruling in Tripplett v. WCAB (Indianapolis Colts) as an unpublished opinion on June 28.
Unpublished opinions are citable only for their persuasive value in California.
Earlier this month, the comp carrier for the Colts had asked the court to order publication of the decision. The National Football League also submitted a request, as did World Wrestling Entertainment, the New York Giants and the Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.
The 4th DCA granted their requests on Tuesday.
The case arose out of Larry Tripplett’s claim that he had suffered cumulative trauma injuries during his six-year professional football career.
Tripplett filed a workers’ compensation claim in California in 2009. Each of his former teams and their workers’ compensation insurance carriers denied liability for his claimed injuries, but Triplett filed a motion electing to pursue benefits only from the Indianapolis Colts.
An administrative law judge allowed the election over the objection of the team.
At the hearing on his claim, Tripplett testified that he was living in Los Angeles when he signed the contract with the Colts at his agent’s office in Newport Beach, but a representative for the team said he recalled inking the deal with Tripplett during training camp in Indianapolis.
An administrative law judge found that jurisdiction was appropriate in California, since Tripplett’s agent had negotiated the contract from within the state.
The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board reversed, finding an employment relationship had not been formed within California, since the contract was not signed while Tripplett or his agent were in California.
The 4th DCA agreed with the board.
While the contract was negotiated by his agent in California, the court said, the contract specified that it became effective once signed.
Since there was no evidence that Tripplett could not reject the contract terms that his agent had negotiated, the court said the negotiation from California was not sufficient to form a binding deal.
The court further found that because Tripplett had played two games in California, it did not give the state jurisdiction over his claim, since the cumulative effect of his alleged injuries did not “ripen into disability” during either of those contests.