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Joe Jurevicius scores big win in lawsuit against Browns

Posted by Mike Florio on March 31, 2010 8:10 PM ET

Last year, former Browns receiver Joe Jurevicius sued the team for the staph infection he contracted after routine knee surgery in January 2008.


We pointed out at the time the possibility that the Collective Bargaining Agreement supersedes the claims made against the Browns.


The Browns removed the case from Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to federal court, based on the contention that all of the theories are preempted by the CBA. Basically, the Browns believed that the entire case should be thrown out, given the presence of a CBA.


Today, Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. ruled that only two of the theories asserted by Jurevicius are preempted. Judge Oliver found that the rest of the claims may proceed, and he sent the case back to state court.


A league source has provided us with a copy of the 30-page opinion drafted by Judge Oliver. (And I read the whole thing. And then I wrote this after I woke up.)


The analysis focused generally on whether resolution of each claim requires interpretation of the terms of the CBA. If so, federal law governs the outcome. If the claim arises separate and apart from the CBA, the claims may proceed in court.


Judge Oliver ruled that the following claims made by Jurevicius are not preempted by the CBA, and sent them to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court: (1) negligent failure to warn players regarding potentially hazardous conditions at the training facility; (2) negligent failure to undertake proper precautions to remove and/or prevent the spread of staph; (3) negligent misrepresentation regarding whether prior incidents of staph infection had been contracted at the training facility; (4) fraudulent misrepresentation that proper procedures were in place to prevent staph infection at the training facility; (5) intentional exposure of employees to a dangerous condition about which the employer was aware; and (6) deliberate misrepresentation of the presence of a toxic or hazardous substance as creating a rebuttable presumption of intent.


Judge Oliver found that two claims could not proceed in court: (1) constructive fraud; (2) breach of fiduciary duty.


In English, Jurevicius has scored a major victory. He'll be permitted to pursue in state court legal theories based on the notion that the Browns knew or should have known that there was a problem in its training facility regarding staph infections, that the team failed to cure it, and that the team otherwise adopted an "all is well" posture in order to keep players from choosing not to join the team or wanting to leave it.


The ruling doesn't mean that Jurevicius has proven these things; it means he'll have a chance to do so. Which means that the Browns will have to spend a lot of time and money dealing with the litigation -- and that its mere existence will be an ongoing reminder to players of a dark period in the franchise's history.


The other reality is that the decision of the Browns to actively defend the case could prompt current and prospective players to wonder whether, when push comes to shove, the Browns will do the right thing. Meanwhile, as the case unfolds evidence could emerge to support a finding that the Browns knew damn well about the problem and failed to properly deal with it.


The fact that Jurevicius was a local kid who finally got a chance to play for his hometown team doesn't make the situation any better for the franchise.


Best bet for the Browns? Settle the case quickly and quietly and move on.



If Joe win's the case how many other former Browns players are gonna file a suit?

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could go class-action?




You usually do that going in.... As for compensatory awards, the team was paying the bills once the players got sick. In most cases the company isn't taking care of the person/s, so there is actual loss incurred by the plaintiff. The fact they got sick, and to some extent pain and suffering, is another matter that could be a legit point of litigation.


As for punitive damages, one has to show the Browns were in some way negligent and more or less tried to cover up the problem or ignored the problem.. Since everybody and their brother knew about it, I find that a rather flimsy position on which to stand. It will depend on the steps taken by the team to clean up the problem. I don't know all that was done but I do recall them talking about steam cleaning the field etc., so ignoring the problem isn't much of a issue unless it was found to be too little, too late.


Staph is a funny thing...the best hospitals in the world have to deal with it and can't avoid it. Take a training facility where sweaty, cut up players sit and train and you magnify the problem.


My guess is the legal teams will discuss exactly what damages and pain and suffering were incurred, and look to settle on those points.



You also have the problem that the team could be doing everything 100% correctly in the training room in so far as treating the wounds, then the players go home and don't do everything 100% correctly and help turn a minor cut in to a full fledged infection.


The fact the judge preempted the claim of breach of fiduciary duty is big for the Browns. That will weigh heavily in their favor if they are held responsible for actual damages...the compensatory side of the deal. It will lessen the chances of a big punitive award, which is what every plaintiff and attorney seeks.

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Browns can expect more claims to be filed

by Paul Kasprzak Contributor Written on March 31, 2010 According to ProFootballTalk.com, former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius scored a huge win in court today as most of his claims in a lawsuit against the Browns can proceed at the state court level. That means other former players who have suffered staph infections on while playing for the Browns will start filing cases.


The Browns took the case to federal court to have federal law supersede, or in other words take priority over state law, which would have thrown out the case. However, judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. ruled that all but two of the claims may proceed at the state level.


That means the Browns will soon or later settle with Jurevicius to make it go away. Once former Browns players that suffered from staph infections hear of the settlements the light bulb will go off and they will realize they are also entitled to some form of compensation.


In the end, the Browns knew they had a problem, but for whatever reason didn’t deal with it properly and now they are getting what they deserve.


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In the end, the Browns knew they had a problem, but for whatever reason didn’t deal with it properly and now they are getting what they deserve.



That would be a good line to use after the case is tried and the Browns are held liable.. At this point it is irresponsible journalism to jump to that conclusion.

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