Pro-Football, Inc. v. District of Columbia Dept. of Employment Services

782 A.2d 735 (2001)

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Pro-Football, Inc. v. District of Columbia Dept. of Employment Services

District of Columbia Court of Appeals
782 A.2d 735 (2001)

Facts

On August 26, 1994, Richard G. Graf (plaintiff) was employed as a football player with Pro-Football, Inc. (d/b/a Washington Redskins) (Washington) (defendant) when he injured his neck and arm during a preseason game. Graf was placed on the injured-reserve list. Graf filed for workers’-compensation benefits. Graf’s treating physician, Dr. Charles Jackson, conducted tests and diagnosed him with nerve-root irritation. Graf saw other physicians, including Dr. John Long, who diagnosed him with a bulging disc; Dr. Frederick Kriss, who diagnosed him with cervical stenosis; and Dr. Joseph Torg, who was referred to Graf by Dr. Jackson and believed Graf did not have cervical stenosis. Months after the injury, Dr. Jackson recommended that Graf stay on the injured-reserve list. At the hearing, Dr. Torg and Dr. Jackson testified that Graf did not have cervical stenosis and was capable of playing football. Dr. Kriss testified that Graf was not capable. Washington’s manager testified that Graf was terminated due to his skill level. Graf testified he was not notified of any termination. Relying mostly on the testimony of Dr. Kriss, the hearing examiner found Graf had suffered a permanent impairment, was not capable of continuing his employment as a professional football player, and had suffered a wage loss of $2,500 weekly. The Department of Employment Services awarded temporary total-disability and permanent partial-disability benefits. Washington and its carrier, Reliance National Insurance Company (Reliance) (defendant), contested the award of permanent partial disability, arguing that the examiner did not give proper weight to the opinions of Graf’s treating physicians and did not resolve issues regarding the factual basis of the experts’ opinions.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wagner, C.J.)

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