Attempting to prevail on a jurisdictional challenge is never easy and is especially difficult when the employer raising the defense is a CA club. The fact a trial judge issued a take nothing finding in favor of the San Francisco Giants based on the jurisdictional defense raised by CCMPT is particularly satisfying. The trial judge’s decision is final as the applicant’s attorney did not file a timely appeal.
The applicant was a professional baseball player whose career spanned more than 15 seasons. The San Francisco Giants were his sole California club employer in 2004. After playing overseas for part of the 2005 season, the applicant was completely out of baseball from 2006 to 2008. He however returned to playing professional baseball for one more season in 2009 with the Tucson Toros. Rather than file a career long cumulative trauma claim through 2009 as per their usual practice, applicant’s counsel creatively filed two separate cumulative trauma claims. The first claim spanned the applicant’s career up through his Giants employment such that it appeared the Giants were the terminal employer. The second claim was filed exclusively with respect to the Toros employment.
CCMPT represented the Giants on the first cumulative trauma claim. In recognizing the Toros likely had a jurisdictional exemption, CCMPT worked with counsel for the Toros to obtain the necessary deposition testimony from the applicant and documentary evidence to support a jurisdictional challenge to jurisdiction per Labor Code section 3600.5(d). If the Toros were successful in proving their jurisdictional exemption, CCMPT asserted the Giants should also escape liability for lack of jurisdiction over the entire claim where the applicant could not meet two exceptions. As the applicant only played for a CA-based team his one season with the Giants in 2004, he could not meet the exception requiring 20% of his career duty days to have occurred in CA or he have spent two seasons playing for a CA based team. Neither could he meet the exception requiring he have spent fewer than 7 seasons playing for out-of-state-based teams where he only played 1 of his more than 15 seasons of professional baseball for a CA based team.
Applicant’s counsel argued the applicant had two separate cumulative trauma periods based on his pleadings such that the Giants were the terminal club on the first claim and thus could not prove a jurisdictional exemption. CCMPT successfully argued the determination of separate cumulative trauma periods was a medical one that was only relevant if the applicant first survived the jurisdictional hurdle. The whole purpose of a jurisdictional defense is to avoid the need to subject the defendant to full blow discovery, including incurring medical discovery costs. Per the language of the jurisdictional statute, the analysis considers the entire playing career and starts from the last year of work as a professional athlete. Labor Code section 3600.5(d) makes no exceptions for breaks in the playing career.
To view a copy of the Findings, please click here.