After more than a year of intense lobbying by professional sports leagues, California has slammed the door on most athletes looking to file injury claims in the state, including those with serious brain injuries.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation that significantly limits workers' compensation claims by pro players. It's a significant victory for the National Football League, which has been trying to reduce its financial exposure to concussions and other brain injuries that former players allege are the result of repeated blows to the head.
In August, the league agreed to a $765-million settlement with more than 4,500 former players. They had sued the NFL in federal court over the lasting effects of concussions, which have been linked to dementia and other debilitating illnesses. That landmark deal was viewed as a bargain for the league, considering the gravity of the injuries and the bad publicity the lawsuit generated for the sport.
The NFL's legislative win in Sacramento could be far more valuable over the long term. It allows the league to sidestep exposure to thousands of serious head and brain trauma claims by out-of-state players who are no longer eligible to file in California.
The bill, signed without comment by the governor, was the subject of nearly 18 months of lobbying by the NFL, Major League Baseball and other major sports leagues and workers' compensation insurers. It ultimately found the backing of nearly every member of the Legislature;...