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Evans v. Arizona Cardinals Football Club, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 21, 2017

ETOPIA EVANS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ARIZONA CARDINALS FOOTBALL CLUB, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         In this action initially brought by thirteen plaintiffs against thirty-two defendants, the remaining three defendants move for summary judgment on the intentional misrepresentation claims asserted against them by the remaining two plaintiffs. The motion is Granted.

         STATEMENT

         The factual and procedural background of this action has been set forth in detail in prior orders (see Dkt. Nos. 168, 175, 224) and need not be repeated here. At this stage, the remaining claims are for intentional misrepresentation only, as follows:

1. By plaintiff Reggie Walker against defendant San Diego Chargers, based on allegations that (1) the club misrepresented that it cared about and prioritized players' health and safety when in fact it prioritized getting players to return to play, even when injured, at the cost of their health and safety; (2) in reliance on those misrepresentations, Walker sprained his ankle during a game in 2014 but continued to play every game thereafter for the rest of his career with Toradol injections from the club doctor; and (3) as a result, Walker continues to experience pain in his ankles.
2. By plaintiff Alphonso Carreker against defendant Denver Broncos, based on allegations that (1) the club misrepresented that it cared about and prioritized players' health and safety when in fact it prioritized getting players to return to play, even when injured, at the cost of their health and safety; (2) in reliance on those misrepresentations, Carreker regularly consumed enormous quantities of anti-inflammatory drugs; and (3) as a result, Carreker underwent heart surgery in 2013 to drain inflammation from a heart infection after anti-inflammatory drugs proved ineffective due to the resistance he had built up during his playing career.
3. By plaintiff Carreker against defendant Green Bay Packers, based on the same allegations as against the Broncos.

         The Chargers, Broncos, and Packers (collectively, “defendants”) now move for summary judgment, contending that all three remaining claims are barred by workers' compensation exclusivity. Walker and Carreker (collectively, “plaintiffs”) respond that their claims fall within an intentional harm exception to exclusivity. This order follows full briefing and oral argument.

         ANALYSIS

         1. Legal Framework.

         Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. F.R.C.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute of material fact is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must believe the non-movant's evidence and draw all justifiable inferences in their favor. Id. at 255. “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence” or “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts” in the non-movant's favor, however, will not suffice. Id. at 252, 261 (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (citation omitted).

         The applicable law is not in dispute. Because this action transferred from the District of Maryland, the choice-of-law principles of Maryland apply. See Newton v. Thomason, 22 F.3d 1455, 1459 (9th Cir. 1994). Here, Maryland's choice of law will “enforce a bar created by the exclusive remedy statute of any state” in which the remaining defendants may be liable to the remaining plaintiffs for workers' compensation benefits. See Hauch v. Connor, 453 A.2d 1207, 1211 (Md. 1983). Thus, for purposes of this motion, California, Colorado, and Wisconsin's workers' compensation laws apply to plaintiffs' remaining claims against the Chargers, Broncos, and Packers, respectively.

         As Hauch recognized, “[s]uits by employees against their immediate employers for injuries arising out of and in the course of employment are now barred by virtually all workmen's compensation statutes in this country.” Ibid. Indeed, the workers' compensation statutes in California, Colorado, and Wisconsin all provide exclusive remedies, with certain limited exceptions, for claims by employees against their employers based on industrial injuries. See Cal. Lab. Code §§ 3600, 3602; Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 8-41-102, -104; Wis.Stat. § 102.03(2); see also Charles J. Vacanti, M.D., Inc. v. State Comp. Ins. Fund, 24 Cal.4th 800, 811-12 (2001) (an alleged injury “falls within the scope of the exclusive remedy provisions” of workers' compensation if it is “collateral to or derivative of” the course of employment); Horodyskyj v. Karanian, 32 P.3d 470, 474 (2001) (workers' compensation ‚Äúprovides exclusive remedies for employees ...


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