(CN) – A former New York Knicks player is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under California law thanks to games played on the west coast, a California appeals court ruled Thursday.
The 5th District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Durand “Rudy” Macklin, who played in NBA between 1981 to 1984, before retiring and becoming a banker.
A 6’7″ forward, Macklin led Louisiana State University to the NCAA Final Four in 1981, and was named the Southeastern Conference Players of the Year.
Later that year, he was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 52nd overall pick of the NBA draft.
He played two seasons with the Hawks before being traded to the Knicks for Sly Williams, but he was cut after only eight games because chronic muscle cramping was hindering his play.
He retired from the NBA in November 1985, after short stints with the Clippers and the minor leagues Albany Patroons.
A California workers’ compensation judge found that the state had personal jurisdiction over the three NBA teams that Macklin played for based on each having engaged in professional activities in the state.
The judge found Macklin to be 76 percent permanently disabled, and ruled that his application for benefits was timely because he had only recently learned of his right to such compensation.
The court of appeals agreed that Macklin’s contacts with California — including regular games against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Golden State Warriors, and the then-San Diego Clippers — were sufficient to allow him to collect California workers’ compensation benefits, despite the Knicks’ arguments to the contrary.
Macklin played in seven games and additional practice sessions while employed by the Knicks and the Hawks, which is a factor in determining a connection between his injury and California, the panel said.
Furthermore, the fact that he played for the California-based Clippers means “we do not have to determine if the other activities in California are sufficient by themselves to make the application of California workers’ compensation law reasonable,” Judge Richard Mosk wrote on behalf of the panel.
The California labor code provides that an employer is subject to liability for cumulative injury if it employed the applicant either during the one year preceding the date of the injury or the on year preceding the last date on which the employee worked at the occupation in which he was injured.
This distinguishes Macklin’s case from the appellate court’s previous opinion in a case involving former professional women’s basketball player Adrienne Johnson, who filed a workers’ compensation claim in California against the Connecticut Sun for industrial cumulative injuries.
In that case, the appellate court found that playing one game did not provide Johnson with a significant relationship with California to make the application of the state’s workers’ compensation law reasonable.
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