SAN DIEGO (CN) – A federal judge upheld an arbitration award that found Bruce Matthews, former lineman for the Tennessee Titans, violated his player contract and ordered him to proceed with his worker’s compensation claim under Tennessee law.
Matthews filed a claim for worker’s compensation benefits five years after he left the National Football League in 2002, which ran against his contract with the Titans.
A collective bargaining agreement between players and the NFL requires disputes to undergo final and binding arbitration.
On Aug. 5, 2010, an arbitrator decided Matthews had violated the player contract and issued a decision requiring him to proceed under Tennessee law.
Matthews had requested the claim be processed under California law, where he had filed it, because California allows workers to seek compensation regardless of their contracts with employers.
Matthews claimed that the arbitrator had ignored California law, federal law and the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution.
But U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino found that the court was only able to assess whether any public policy explicitly barred the arbitrator’s decision.
“There is not an explicit, well-defined, and dominant public policy specifically militating against the arbitrator’s award.”
“Plaintiff argues that the arbitration award granted on August 5, 2010, should be vacated because the arbitrator showed a manifest disregard of the law and because the arbitration award is contrary to public policy,” Sammartino wrote. “The court finds both of these bases for vacatur unavailing.”