Ex MLB Player Who Settled Med Mal Suit Can No Longer Get Workers' Comp

Posted By Katz Leidman Grossman Wolfe & Freund || 9-Sep-2015

A former Major League Baseball umpire forfeited his right to receive workers' compensation benefits after he settled a medical malpractice lawsuit, according to a New York appeals court.

Mark Hirschbeck was a former umpire for the big leagues for over 15 years. In 2002, he sustained a work-related injury to his right hip, which made him eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

He ended up having hip-replacement surgery, but between complications and follow-up surgeries, he ended up permanently disabled. His injuries forced him into early retirement in 2003.

Hirschbeck filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of his artificial hip implant, alleging product defects and medical malpractice. In 2011, he received a $3.2 million settlement, according to court documents.

Workers' Comp Insurer Suspends Benefits

After Hirschbeck's case was settled, the New York-based Major League Baseball's workers' comp insurer decided to suspend his benefits, claiming that as part of the 2007 agreement with the umpire, it reserved its rights to a future offset from his settlement.

In August 2013, the New York Workers' Compensation Board ruled in favor of the insurer, and on Sep. 3, that decision was upheld by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division.

According to the decision handed down on Thursday (Sep. 3), an employer or insurer must unambiguously and expressly reserve its right to offset a worker's future workers' comp benefits with the proceeds from a third-party settlement or recovery.

Upon inspection, the Supreme Court found substantial evidence that supported the board's decision and stated that it shall not be disturbed.

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