Attorneys appointed to national sports unions workers’ compensation panels

James Burn and Douglas Williams join the workers’ compensation panels of the NFLPA and PHPA.

Our firm is pleased to announce two tremendous appointments to professional sports union legal boards. Congratulations to James Burn and Douglas Williams who were named to the workers compensation panels of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the Professional Hockey Players Association (PHPA), respectively. 

“Both Doug and Jim have been relentless advocates for workers’ rights and have spent a significant amount of time working on these types of cases. This recognition highlights the caliber of work they have been doing and will continue to do,” said partner Thomas Baumann. 

Burn and Williams’ appointments come at a time when professional sports organizations are seeing significant challenges due to COVID-19 and may require additional representation. This designation exemplifies their ongoing dedication to the sports industry and its players, and we are proud of their accomplishments.

Congratulations, Jim and Doug! 

Tom Baumann Named One of the Top 50 Lawyers in Pittsburgh by Super Lawyers

Tom Baumann was once again recognized as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pittsburgh by Super Lawyers. This is the 16th consecutive year Baumann has been recognized as a Super Lawyer. Specifically, he is listed as a Top Rated Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Pittsburgh by Super Lawyers.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only five percent of lawyers receive this designation and are chosen based off Super Lawyer’s patented multiphase selection process, nominations received, independent research and peer evaluations. 

The Abes Baumann team congratulates Tom for achieving Super Lawyers’ status once again.

Have you lost your light duty job because of COVID-19 or the decline in the economy?

Many people after a worker’s compensation injury return to work with either the employer they were working for when injured or with a new employer while under restrictions for the work injury. This often involves the offer by an employer of a modified duty position. Sometimes, the injured worker returns to work making as much as he/she did prior to the injury. Other workers make less and received partial disability benefits. Both sets of workers are entitled to a reinstatement of total disability benefits if they lose the modified duty job through no fault of their own. This would include layoffs due to the business closing as a result of COVID-19 restrictions or as a result of the current economic downturn.

The workers’ compensation attorneys at Abes Baumann believe there is no inherent difference in how injured workers are treated when there is a layoff due to either the economy or restrictions caused by the pandemic. The case law in Pennsylvania tells us that injured workers who are working modified duty are entitled to reinstatement of total disability benefits if the worker loses the job “through no fault of his own.” Clearly, job losses caused by restrictions imposed by the government to deal with the pandemic falls within this definition.

If you have lost a modified duty job, please contact Abes Baumann for a free evaluation of your case. As always, you will not be charged unless the firm is successful in obtaining you benefits.

Football Players – NOT Seasonal Employees

By Sandra Weigel Kokal

In follow-up to our prior posting – the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently issued its Decision regarding the precedent that professional football players are “seasonal employees” under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. In the case of Pittsburgh Steelers Sports Inc v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Trucks), Attorney Baumann had argued that Mr. Trucks signed a yearly contract with the Steelers and as such was required to perform year-round obligations for the team. In opposition, the Steelers had argued Mr. Trucks was just a seasonal employee. 

The Court agreed with Attorney Baumann’s arguments. In rejecting the Steelers’ arguments and prior case law, the Court stated the facts and terms of Mr. Truck’s contract demonstrate that he was not a seasonal employee. Specifically, the Court stated Mr. Trucks’ contract covered 2 football seasons and included a number of performance obligations, which included the following: attend all mini-camps, pre-season training, all meetings, practice sessions, all pre-season, regular season and postseason games, any all-star games, cooperate with news media, attend 10 assigned appearances a year, and he was prohibited from playing football outside of employment. In exchange for performing these obligations, he received a yearly salary for those 2 seasons. Trucks obligations did not limit his activities to just the regular football season; therefore, the Court stated his employment was NOT seasonal. 

Firm Founder Ed Abes Retires

As of January 1, 2020, founder and partner Ed Abes has retired after a more than 50-year career practicing law.

After graduating from Pennsylvania State University and Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Ed began his career working for the State Workers’ Insurance Fund as a Special Assistant Attorney General. In 1978, he decided to use his knowledge and experience of Workers’ Compensation to establish a law firm dedicated to fighting for injured workers.

Not long after opening the doors at Abes Baumann, Ed began representing injured professional athletes as a member of the Workers’ Compensation Panels of the National Football League Players Association, the National Hockey League Players Association, and the Professional Hockey Players Association. The Major League Baseball Players Association also recommends Abes Baumann to their injured players.

In addition to practicing law full-time, Ed has volunteered his time on a number of boards and committees including chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section Liaison Committee, which facilitates communication among the judges, administrators, and attorneys of the Workers’ Compensation judicial system. Ed is past president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and past treasurer of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.

Ed has won numerous industry awards and accolades during his career. In 2011, Ed was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance. Super Lawyers Magazine has listed him as one of the top 5% of lawyers in Pennsylvania since 2004 and also as one of the Top 50 Lawyers in Pittsburgh. He has been recognized continuously since 2004 by Best Lawyers in America as one of Pittsburgh’s Best Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.

On behalf of the entire firm at Abes Baumann, we thank Ed for his years of leadership, mentoring and friendship. We wish him all the best in his retirement.

Football Players –Seasonal Employees?

Recently, Abes Baumann participated in an en banc argument before the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania revisiting the precedent that professional football players are “seasonal employees”under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. In the case of Pittsburgh Steelers Sports, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Trucks), Tom Baumann argued that Mr. Trucks signed a yearly contract with the Steelers and as a year-round employee was required to perform year-round obligations for the team. Therefore, Mr. Trucks workers’ compensation benefits should be based upon the contract he signed.

Below, theWorkers’ Compensation Judge and Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board ruled in Mr. Trucks favor, finding his workers’ compensation benefits should be based upon the contract he signed with the Steelers. The Steelers appealed arguing that Trucks was a “seasonal employee.” The Commonwealth Court seemed skeptical of the Steelers’ claim that the contract was seasonal and questioned both sides on what constituted an NFL season. It appears that the Commonwealth Court will now revisit prior cases finding that football players are “seasonal employees”

See, “NFL Players Aren’t ‘Seasonal Employee’ Pa. Court Told” in www.law360.com for a summary of the Commonwealth Court argument.


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