The Washington Redskins urged Maryland's highest court Thursday not to force the team to pay workers' compensation benefits to its former wide receiver Darnerien McCants, arguing that the claim involving his injuries belongs in Virginia, where the NFL team is based.
"There's no question that by far, the bulk of his work activities occurred in Virginia," David O. Godwin, a lawyer for the football team told the Court of Appeals, saying that the team offices and training facilities are in Ashburn, Va., and that McCants is "forum-shopping" for benefits.
But attorneys for McCants argued that Maryland law allows him to seek benefits in this state, where Redskins' home games are played. The team's revenue comes from games, not from practice, they said.
"Their employment is to play in games," attorney Benjamin T. Boscolo told the judges, pointing to FedEx Field in Landover. He contended that "more of what they are paid to do is done in Maryland than in any other state."
McCants, a one-time Arundel High School and Delaware State University player who played in about 34 games between 2002 and 2004 for the Redskins, maintains he was injured in games in Philadelphia and Buffalo, and during practice in Virginia, according to arguments by the team.
McCants' is the second workers' compensation case brought by an ex-Redskin that the Court of Appeals has taken up in the past year.
Both McCants and former punter Tom Tupa, who was injured at FedEx Field in 2005, had contracts restricting their claims to Virginia, a provision the players say is contrary to Maryland law. Moreover, McCants' lawyers said workers' compensation benefits are not open to him in Virginia.
Both disputes are among legal battles between NFL teams and players over where the players can file workers' compensation claims. Some states, such as Maryland, are less restrictive in coverage than others. The Court of Appeals does not have a deadline for issuing a ruling in either case.