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Matthew Jesse Ware played college football at UCLA, and also played for a number of professional teams. His career history according to public records included the Philadelphia Eagles (2004-2005). Arizona Cardinals (2006-2010). Virginia Destroyers (2012), and the Toronto Argonauts (2014).

He filed an Application for Adjudication of Claim against the Arizona Cardinals Football Club LLC which is currently pending trial and a disposition.

The Cardinals compete in the National Football League as a member of the National Football Conference West division, and play their home games at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, a suburb northwest of Phoenix.

The defendant “specially appeared” in this case for the purpose of contesting jurisdiction. A special appearance is for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over defendant without submitting to such jurisdiction. A general appearance is made where the defendant waives defects of service or jurisdiction and submits to the jurisdiction of court.

On July 15, 2022, defendant filed a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed requesting a Mandatory Settlement Conference on the issue of jurisdiction. Defendant averred it was specially appearing and requested a “bifurcated trial regarding jurisdiction and exemptions/exceptions to jurisdiction.”

Applicant objected to the DOR, asserting California retained subject matter jurisdiction over the claim, that discovery was ongoing, and requesting a status conference. Applicant asserted that, “[t]rial is premature in that at the current time discovery is still ongoing and a trial at this early stage in the litigation process would be a waste of the Court’s time and resources.”

On August 31, 2022, the parties proceeded to Mandatory Settlement Conference. The minutes of hearing state: “The defense attorney filed DOR requesting bifurcated trial on jurisdiction. Applicant attorney wants to proceed on all issues. The WCJ continues the present MSC, set on only DOR for bifurcated trial, to another MSC where applicant requests trial on all issues.The WCJ ordered that the matter be continued to another MSC on October 26, 2022 over defendant’s objection.”

Defendant’s Petition for Removal was granted by the WCAB in the case of Ware v Arizona Cardinals Football Club LLC ADJ13302605-ADJ15813943 (March 2023), and the case was returned to the trial level with instructions that the matter be set for MSC forthwith, and that the matter thereafter be set for trial on issues of California subject matter and personal jurisdiction.

In the Petition for Removal, the defendant asserts that setting this matter for an MSC “on all issues” is premature pending a determination of whether California has jurisdiction over this claim.

Defendant observes that the WCJ is empowered to bifurcate and try separate issues upon a showing of good cause, and thus contends that “without the ability to obtain a bifurcated trial on a critical threshold issue such as subject matter jurisdiction and/or personal jurisdiction, Defendant will be exposed to unreasonable and unnecessary litigation costs and medical expenses which they would otherwise be able to avoid altogether if they prevail at a bifurcated trial.”

The WCJ’s Report observes that bifurcated proceedings on jurisdiction would require the expenditure of time and judicial resources for separate proceedings, and may also require parties to travel to California from locations possibly outside the state.The WCJ asserts that the trial judge will be in the best position to evaluate defendant’s request for bifurcated proceedings following a review of the evidence, and that the defendant has not demonstrated it will suffer irreparable harm or prejudice by having the issue of jurisdiction considered at the time of trial with all other issues.

The WCAB panel observed that defendant is specially appearing in this matter for the purpose of contesting jurisdiction. Defendant’s July 15, 2022 DOR reiterates that it is specially appearing, and requests bifurcated trial proceedings limited to jurisdiction and possible exemptions and/or exceptions thereto.

The WCAB when on to conclude that while the parties to a matter are generally expected to “submit for decision all matters properly in issue at a single trial,” the WCJ may also order that the issues in a case be “bifurcated and tried separately upon a showing of good cause.” (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 10787(a).)

Here, we believe there is good cause to bifurcate and decide the issues of subject matter and personal jurisdiction. Applicant has indicated he is ready to proceed on all issues including jurisdiction, while defendant has indicated readiness to proceed on jurisdictional issues only.”

“If defendant prevails, there will be no need for further discovery or proceedings. If applicant prevails, the parties will then be able to develop the record on the merits of applicant’s claim, and if there is a determination that injury arose out of and in the course of employment, the defendant will no longer require a judicial determination of California jurisdiction prior to delivering any benefits due the applicant.”

“Here, we conclude that bifurcation and trial on threshold jurisdictional issues best meets the requirements for expedited resolution of threshold issues in furtherance of the prompt delivery of reasonable benefits.”