Below is the response by the Saints organization to the NFLPA's decision to advise agents of players to strongly consider whether they should have their clients sign with the Saints. The response was provided by Christopher J. Kane of Adams and Reese.
The proposed law (HB1069) referenced in the NFLPA’s advisory to agents is intended to reflect what Louisiana courts have previously decided regarding the timing aspect of when to calculate a professional athletes average weekly wage for purposes of determining state workers’ compensation benefits. HB1069 in no way reduces any eligible workers’ compensation benefits to any potential free agent or current professional athlete in Louisiana. Importantly, this law is not new, and in fact first arose from a professional athlete claim filed in April 2000. Since 2006, the Louisiana appellate court system, including both the Louisiana Fourth (1 favorable case) and Fifth circuits (5 favorable cases), have held that average weekly wages for professional athletes should be determined based on the wages earned at the time of the injury and from a historical perspective and rejected calculating them based on potential future earning capacity or speculative wages.
And while HB1069 merely keeps the current law, Louisiana’s workers’ compensation system avails professional athletes with one of the more competitive and employee friendly workers’ compensation wage benefit systems. For example, non-permanent injury employees are eligible for up to 10 years of indemnity (wage) benefits in Louisiana, where many state indemnity benefits are restricted to 4-6 years, or even to a specific limited schedule dependent on the injury. Professional athletes who are employed in Louisiana enjoy extended indemnity benefits in comparison to states in which other Clubs reside. In fact, states such as Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas do no provide indemnity benefits for non-permanently injured professional athletes for a period as long as Louisiana’s 10 year (520 week) period.
While the NFLPA has inappropriately and unprofessionally discouraged free agents from coming to Louisiana, they fail to mention that they have aggressively instigated legislative efforts in Louisiana since 2010 in an effort to undo the prevailing case law. In 2010, 2012 and 2014, the NFLPA first filed bills in each session proposing an exception for professional athletes from the case law. Only in response to those legislative efforts did the Saints lodge an opposition in an effort to protect the jurisprudence. After defeating the NFLPA’s legislative effort, the Saints did not previously move their bills in 2010 and 2012. In 2014, after two more consistent cases came from the appellate courts, the NFLPA unsuccessfully tried to change the law yet again. Consequently, HB1069 is now being sought for passage to stop the needless litigation and annual lobbying efforts of the NFLPA to circumvent the established case law.