Joe Jurevicius scores big win in lawsuit against Browns

nfl_a_jurevicious_412.jpgLast 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.

41 responses to “Joe Jurevicius scores big win in lawsuit against Browns

  1. Settle, he was a great receiver that wanted to play in Cleveland and the previous administration treated him like crap.
    Way to go Joe!!
    Hope you win a truck load of cash.

  2. I agree with you Florio on the settlement; pay it, forget it, hope it doesn’t rear its head again.

  3. How many Browns caught staph in the last few years? A few, eh? Class action lawsuit in the making?

  4. Kellen Winslow and LeCharles Bentley should get in on the action…they both got big time staph infections at the same dump after their surgeries.

  5. What is up with the Browns players getting staff infections lol. What are they doing the surgeries in someones garage, maybe they should do an overhaul on there medical staff and situations and try to prevent these things from happening again.

  6. This does not have anything to do with Ben Roethlisburger’s case. You have not yet slammed BB today. (eye roll) You are falling behind.

  7. CD_Ridge says:
    March 31, 2010 8:33 PM
    This does not have anything to do with Ben Roethlisburger’s case. You have not yet slammed BB today. (eye roll) You are falling behind.
    So you make it about Roethlisburger. This is why people hate Steeler fans. You all think that all the league should all revolve their days around your team. It comes off as retarded to normal folks.

  8. “This does not have anything to do with Ben Roethlisburger’s case. You have not yet slammed BB today. (eye roll) You are falling behind.”
    That’s because Rapistberger hasn’t slammed anyone today.

  9. “# CD_Ridge says: March 31, 2010 8:33 PM
    This does not have anything to do with Ben Roethlisburger’s case. You have not yet slammed BB today. (eye roll) You are falling behind.”
    I think Florio felt a breather was in order after yesterday, when he managed to whip the idiots into such a frenzy that one compared the Steelers to WWII Nazis…

  10. TrytheVeal – F U, the only mistake is letting retards like you around! This is a great place to live, and if you don’t know, you have no idea what your talking about.
    I like Joe J. as much as any Browns fan, but his career was already over before the surgery, the staph just clarified his being “done”. Staph is on your skin at all times. On everyone. It’s not something you can just make “go away”. They didn’t do the surgery at the Browns facility, so why is he suing them? He had the surgery at Cleveland Clinic (widely regarded as one of the best hospitals in the country) – so why isn’t he suing them? This judge allowing this will set a precedent that is just plain lunacy. If a guy blows out his knee playing for a team is he going to sue for the fact that his knee will never be the same? Just plain stupid…

  11. A couple of things:
    1. The players have surgery at Cleveland Clinic, they are catching Staph at the clowns training facility not at the hospital…I worked there. Same infection proticols at any hospital across the country.
    2. Why would any player worth his weight want to play for this awful excuse for an organization. The upper mgmt. is horrible, the city is crap, and other than a handful of players their roster is pathetic.

  12. Pretty sure not, it goes by when the incident happened.
    The Browns better settle, if this gets to a jury they could get creamed.

  13. Go Joe Vicious! The NFL needs more players to play as hard as Joe did. I hope he gets his.

  14. This is not just a Browns problem if he wins.
    This is an NFL problem.
    There will be dozens of law suites coming out of the wood works.

  15. Way to step up and be Accountable for ending this guys’s career Browns! I can’t believe that FAs still sign with them.

  16. jsbeck: “There will be dozens of law suites coming out of the wood works.”
    Only if players on other teams can make a credible case for fraudulent misrepresentation or negligence, otherwise it would just be covered under the CBA. This is a Browns problem. Most teams are “professional” and take their workout rooms much more seriously.

  17. Joe J has always been a stand up guy. Loved him when he played for the giants, true blue collar guy who always gave it his best and never said too much.
    Can anyone seriously ignore all the staph infections the browns have dealt with? I remember bently coming in and almost immediately dealing with it along with a few others one after another. Its one thing when you hear a couple of guys on different teams but it was seriously an outbreak in cleveland.
    You can always say, if I throw 100 quarters up in the air… roughly 50 will be heads and 50 will be tails but if you look closely you will see clusters of heads and clusters of tails… what does it mean? nothing. “Civil Action”. However, you can also say where there is smoke there is fire.
    Joe J. has always carried himself with integrity. With the way he dealt with his child’s issues to everything else. Staph infections ruin careers… it just so happens that it happened to more browns players over those 3 years than players of any other team.

  18. crap, the whole city of cleveland is INFECTED
    just declare it a vast wasteland and allow ALL the residents to move out.
    is there an uglier city in america or an uglier fan fan? (green bay fans please remain silent – your women eat sausage and cheese curds)

  19. steel carrot – while you are probably a fan of the WORST team in the NFL – the Suckleers
    I agreee with you in this case
    BTW, the SUCKLERS last 2 super bowl wins were give’me’s from Goodell to your owner (I think he has naughtly photos of Goodell and some young men together (we all know Goodell is a man lover and will be revealed when he is like 80ish)

  20. Ravenmuscle says: March 31, 2010 8:27 PM
    Kellen Winslow and LeCharles Bentley should get in on the action…they both got big time staph infections at the same dump after their surgeries.
    except that Winslow got traded to Tampa Bay, and got a fat new contract from those dumbasses. Bentley you have a point with.

  21. Hopefully that assistant coach for the cowgurls can sew jerry. I would love to see his arrogant ass lose his team and his toupee.

  22. So using the same logic that many people are applying to Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes, the Browns should be suspended for their first four games this season since they are being sued, right?

  23. highjak78 –
    a little knowledge is a dangerous thing: there are 32 types of staph. the ones which reside in the skin are harmless – ones which naturally live in the ground (near cemetaries etc) are not harmless. I’m sure place of the surgery was micro-ban clean, the problem is that having an open wound in a facility with a dangerous strain of staph is what caused the infection – hence the lawsuit.

  24. Well Mike, it helps to know something about Ohio law before rendering a legal (or other) opinion.
    First of all, relative to the negligence claims, Ohio Revised Code Section 4123.74, which provides that Ohio employers have immunity from negligence for workplace injuries should operate to bar his claim. The only reason the Browns would have any concern is if they are self-insured for workers compensation purposes, but any such benefits would be limited to lost pay and payment of medical bills (which likely have been paid already).
    Second, regarding the intentional tort claims, the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that Ohio Revised Code Section 2745.01, which adopts a stringent standard for such claims, is constitutional. Essentially, Jurevicius would have to prove that the Browns deliberately tried to injure him–highly unlikely given what the Browns invest in their players.
    Were the Browns negligent? Sure. Reckless? Perhaps, given the history of staph infections. However, that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to the issue of whether JJ will get compensation beyond that afforded by the workers compensation system.

  25. Bentley came back and then made the decision he didn’t want to compete for a starting job.
    Amazing how many doctors post here that seem to know all about these infections.

  26. Too bad Braylon didn’t catch a staph infection instead. Oh thats right he didn’t catch anything while in Cleveland. We all liked Joe and hated to see how his career came to an end but this suit is B.S. Does anybody in their right mind think a franchise (good or bad) would purposely ignore something that could hurt or even kill their players? Just another sign of the times we live in. No such thing as fate, somebody must pay!

  27. Who’s to say that these players didn’t get staph from their own house, or from the car they drive. You can scratch the area with a dirty finger and get staph. Why is it always the fault of the facility and not the fault of the person.

  28. The next lawsuit that should be filed should be from the Browns fans to the orginization for having such a shiatty team every year.

  29. Kellen Winslow should get some $$ back from his testicular giganticus – Staph induced infection (if jacking off in the clubhouse can get you cash), then he can go on being that solider he claims he is. What a turd.

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