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Federal Insurance Co. v. Workers Compensation Appeals Board

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Fifth Division

December 3, 2013

FEDERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Petitioner,
v.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION APPEALS BOARD and ADRIENNE JOHNSON, Respondents.

Petition for Writ of Review: Petition granted; order amended, and remanded to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. WCAB Case No. ADJ7224961

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COUNSEL

Law Offices of Dean M. Stringfellow and Dean M. Stringfellow for Petitioner.

No appearance for Respondent Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Law Offices of Mark A. Slipock and Mark A. Slipock for Respondent Adrienne Johnson.

OPINION

MOSK, Acting P. J.

INTRODUCTION

The applicant for workers’ compensation was a professional basketball player who was not employed by a California team, has never resided in California, has played one professional game in California out of 34 games played during the 2003 season, and has suffered no specific injury in California. She seeks a workers’ compensation award in California against her former non-California team and its insurer for a disability based on a cumulative injury. We hold that California does not have a sufficient interest in this matter to apply its workers’ compensation law and to retain jurisdiction over the case. We also hold that we have jurisdiction to review the order in this case even though the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (Board) was not a final decision or order.

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BACKGROUND

Adrienne Johnson (Johnson), the applicant and real party in interest, attended Ohio State University, graduating in 1997. Upon graduation, she was drafted by the Cleveland Rockers, a professional basketball team in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and played for them for two years. Johnson next played for the Orlando Miracle, which became the Connecticut Sun in 2003. In December 2003, an MRI revealed she had a knee injury, for which she had surgery in 2004. Although Johnson did not play during the 2004 season she signed with the Seattle Storm and practiced with that team in Seattle in 2005. She did not play for that team during the 2005 regular season and has not played in any professional games since the end of the 2003 season.

While playing for the Orlando Miracle, Johnson lived in Orlando, Florida. When her team moved to Connecticut, Johnson moved from Orlando to Hackensack, New Jersey, and she continued to play for that team. At the time of her September 2010 deposition in the workers’ compensation proceeding in California, Johnson resided in Louisville, Kentucky and had been living there for two years.

Johnson sustained an injury to her right knee while playing for the Orlando Miracle in 1999. She had surgery for this injury in Orlando, Florida in 2000. In May 2001, while in training camp in Orlando, Johnson tore her Achilles tendon. She was treated again in Orlando and missed the entire 2001 season. She reinjured her right knee in 2003. Johnson signed a two-year contract with the Connecticut Sun on May 2, 2003. She signed this contract in Hackensack, New Jersey. Her agent was based in Ohio.

Johnson filed a workers’ compensation claim in Connecticut in August 2003 for the injury to her right knee. It was resolved by a settlement resulting in a $30, 000 payment to Johnson. Johnson played 34 games in the 2003 season, which was the full season. During that season, she played one game in Los Angeles, California on July 20, 2003.

After leaving professional basketball, Johnson worked briefly for a printing company and then as a substitute teacher in Kentucky for a year. She then went to work for the University of Louisville in 2006, where she was still working at the time of her deposition in this workers’ compensation ...


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