By Chet Brokaw, The Associated Press Thursday, June 05, 2008
The Rapid City Red Dogs, and not the National Indoor Football League, were responsible for providing workers' compensation coverage for an injured player, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled Thursday. Circuit Judge Thomas L. Trimble had ruled the Red Dogs were responsible for providing workers' compensation coverage to Chad Carpenter, who sustained a neck injury in a game. The league was exempt from liability, the judge said.
The Supreme Court agreed that Carpenter was employed by the Red Dogs, not by the league, so the team was obligated to provide workers' compensation coverage.
Carpenter injured his neck on March 29, 2003, while playing in a regular season game for the Red Dogs. The injury prevented him from working for four weeks and cost him $5,462 in medical bills.
Neither the Red Dogs nor the league had workers' compensation insurance, so Carpenter sued both the team and the league. Judge Trimble determined that the Red Dogs were responsible for workers' compensation coverage.
The Supreme Court said Carpenter's employment contract was between him and the Red Dogs, and he was to be paid a weekly expense allowance and $200 a game. The team, not the league, paid Carpenter for regular season games, the justices said.
The league did not meet the legal definition of employer for regular season games, so it was not responsible for providing workers' compensation insurance, the high court said.
Carpenter contended that the league had an express or implied employment contract with him because it had control over the game, the Red Dogs and the players. But the Supreme Court said the league was not a joint employer because it had no obligation to pay Carpenter for regular season games.
To be honest, though, I am surprised anyone even showed up to represent the league in the appeal.
I wonder if the court knew that (if correct), and if that would have changed the ruling?[/quote]
I'm not sure that it would have mattered. They're saying he was technically an employee of the team so the team was the one responsible for the insurance. Now if the team had paid the league for the insurance and THOUGHT that their players were covered, then I would assume the team would have a good basis for a civil suit against the league (good luck with that).
At any rate, I'm guessing that the total sum we're talking about is $6262 ($5,462 in medical bills and 4 x $200 per week in salary). I would guess that the legal bills were at least that much for each side. Not really in anybody's interest to pursue it much more.