Sweet Home Missouri

The Rams have officially made the move from St. Louis to Los Angeles, but they are trying to withhold on completely moving. Over the weekend, it was reported that the Rams are offering new player contracts with language stating the laws of Missouri, not California, in order to control the relationship between player and team.

Here is the excerpt from the contract that is being analyzed, “The parties hereto acknowledge that this Player Contract has been negotiated and executed in Missouri; that should any dispute, claim or cause of action (collectively ‘dispute’) arise concerning rights or liabilities arising from the relationship between the Player and the Club, the parties hereto agree that the law governing such dispute shall be the law of the State of Missouri. Furthermore, the exclusive jurisdiction for resolving Workers’ Compensation related claims shall be the Division of Workers’ Compensation of Missouri, and the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Act shall govern.”

This language makes it clear that the Rams want to keep any worker’s compensation claims away from California and governed by Missouri. The NFL Player Association has released a statement advising NFL certified contract agents to reject the term as “inappropriate.”

“We believe that any reference to the state of Missouri is inappropriate since the Rams have relocated to California as evidenced by the fact that they have changed their name on their website to the Los Angeles Rams, are prepared to hold off-season workouts and training camp in California, and will practice and play their home games in California in 2016,” states the NFLPA in a letter to all agents.

California is known to be pro-employee in worker’s compensation claims, which is why the Rams are trying to avoid arbitration cases in their new home state. So, can the Rams have Missouri law oversee their contracts with new players?

In short, they cannot force players worker’s compensation claims to be governed by Missouri law. The US Supreme Court has stated, “A basic principle of federalism is that each State may make its own reasoned judgment about what conduct is permitted or proscribed within its borders, and each State alone can determine what measure of punishment, if any, to impose on a defendant who acts within its jurisdiction.” State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003). See also Huntington v. Attrill, 146 U.S. 657 (1892) (Laws have no force of themselves beyond the jurisdiction of the State which enacts them.)

This means that each state has control of what is allowed within their boundaries. Missouri has no power over claims that occur in California, thus, this contract language is not viable unless the workers compensation claim arises from conduct that occurred in Missouri.

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