A member company of the Travelers insurance pool has filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Denver seeking a declaratory judgment to block workers' compensation claims by former pro football players.
The case, St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. v. Denver Broncos et al, was filed June 6 by the insurer against the club ownership and nine former Broncos. The players had filed workers' comp claims in California for injuries during their professional careers as Bronco players.
California permits such claims if the player competed in a game in the Golden State, whether sustaining an injury there or not. St. Paul's complaint states "the policies provide no coverage for the California claims. Further, certain of the California claims fall outside of the policy periods."
St. Paul said the workers' comp coverage it issued the Bronco ownership was only for claims in New Mexico and did not cover football players. "No payroll was provided… to St. Paul to identify any employees to be covered by the policies," the filing stated. As a result, "St. Paul did not charge any payroll-based premium" for coverage."
The complaint says each of the nine players has filed claims "in excess of $100,000," which the Broncos passed on to St. Paul for settlement.
The Denver-based law firm Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell is representing St. Paul Fire. Reached by phone, Wheeler Trigg attorney Carolyn J. Fairless, who filed the motion in federal court, declined to comment.
Efforts to reach Travelers Group for further details were unsuccessful.
The nine players named in the complaint were with the Broncos from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Two of the nine players are renown for their careers: running back Floyd Little, who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame; and linebacker Randy Gradishar, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and key member of Denver's"Orange Crush" defense.
Travelers was formed by the merger of the former St. Paul Cos. with Travelers Property Casualty Corp. in 2004. The corporation became known as Travelers Cos. in 2007, reacquiring its iconic red umbrella logo from Citigroup (BestWire, Feb. 20, 2007).
The various pooled insurance units of Travelers have a current Best's Financial Strength Rating of A+ (Superior).
In late-day trading, shares of Travelers Cos. (NYSE: TRV) were priced at $58.74, down 0.79% from their previous close.
(Dennis Gorski, Best's Review managing editor)