Florida’s Reciprocity Statute: Did the Florida Legislature Fumble in Trying to Limit Workers' Compensation Coverage for Pro Football Players?

Florida’s Reciprocity Statute: Did the Florida Legislature Fumble in Trying to Limit Workers' Compensation Coverage for Pro Football Players?

 A new Emerging Issues Analysis article by Thomas A. Robinson, the senior staff writer for Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, examines the collision of states' jurisdiction in workers' compensation cases, particularly where injured pro football players are involved. California is a popular destination for professional football players, at least for players who are seeking workers’ compensation benefits. The generosity of the California system has encouraged hundreds of NFL players to file claims there, even when they played for teams who were located in other states.

Some states, including Florida, exclude professional athletes from their workers’ compensation systems, and now Florida has sought to prevent athletes who were under contract with Florida teams from pursuing workers’ compensation benefits in California or other states [see HB 723, reciprocity statute, signed by Governor Rick Scott on 6/17/2011].

The Florida legislature thought it had found a way to keep players in Florida from scoring in the California workers’ compensation end zone. But as Thomas A. Robinson writes, there could be a potential flaw in the Florida legislation, and the California courts may well review the new Florida reciprocity statute and find it doesn’t apply to Florida pro football players. Moreover, as the recent Maryland case Pro-Football, Inc. v. Tupa shows, the state where the injury occurs will not easily give up jurisdiction over the injury claim.

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