Three football players from the Cleveland Browns are entitled to workers' compensation after an appeals court ruled that their claim was filed in a timely manner.
I Greco vs. Cleveland Browns Football Co. LLC Ohio Court of Appeals. , The Eighth District of Cleveland upheld a court ruling on Thursday that doctors treating players can be considered employees under the state statute for workers' compensation, which applied an exemption from the requirement that compensation claims be filed within two years of the injury.
John Greco, Joel Bitonio and Scott Solomon were players for the Cleveland Browns who were all injured while playing football. The three were treated by two doctors hired by the Browns to provide medical treatment to players. Under an agreement between Brown's and University Hospital's Health System Inc., the two doctors would serve as domestic physicians for the team, where the browns paid physicians' salaries in exchange for the hospital's right to use Brown's trademark for marketing and advertising purposes.
The three players filed a claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, which the Browns rejected as premature since they were filed after the two-year limitation period. However, the Industrial Commission of Ohio allowed the allegations. The Browns appealed to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, which granted the players a summary judgment and a trial court upheld.
The Cleveland Browns appealed the decision of the trial court, arguing that because two doctors were independent contractors, the two-year statute was one of the restrictions applied and the players' claims lapsed.
Under Ohio law, workers' compensation claims must be filed within two years of the date of injury. However, the limitation period does not apply if the employer has chosen to pay benefits directly and has notified the Commission or the agency in writing of the specific parts of the body alleged to have been injured, or if the employer has treated a licensed doctor working for the employer and notes that such treatment does not constitute recognition of a claim for compensation.
The Board of Appeal upheld the decision of the Court. The court found that the agreement between the browns and the doctors created an employer-employee relationship, in which the browns controlled "the way and means of the doctors 'work" and gave the hospital the use of its trademark in exchange "instead of the doctors' salaries."