Isaiah J. Kacyvenski is a former football linebacker of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Kacyvenski played six-plus seasons with the Seahawks recording 267 tackles in 90 games and was elected as the Special Teams Captain 3 years in a row. In 2002, Kacyvenski earned the starting job at Middle Linebacker, after battling for the position with Orlando Huff. In 2005, Kacyvenski was Special Teams Captain of the Seahawks and helped lead the team to Super Bowl XL, which was played in Detroit, Michigan. He was released by the team on September 30, 2006. Kacyvenski then signed a one-year contract with the St.Louis Rams on October 3, 2006, and played in ten games for them during the remainder of the 2006 season. As an unrestricted free agent in the 2007 off season, Kacyvenski then signed a one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders on July 11. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve on August 7 and released with an injury settlement a week later after undergoing microfracture surgery on his leg. In September 2008, it was reported that Kacyvenski had decided to retire.
On May 8, 2008, Kacyvenski filed an Application for Adjudication of Claim alleging that he sustained cumulative injury through 2007 to various body parts while a professional football player for the Raiders. The Raiders admitted left knee injury, and the Rams were joined as defendants. At the Mandatory Settlement Conference of July 8, 2014, Kacyvenski elected to proceed solely against the Raiders under Labor Code section 5500.5(c). As a result of the election against the Raiders, the Rams did not appear at the scheduled trial of August 20, 2014, during which time the Raiders and Kacyvenski entered into the Stipulations with Request for Award. The WCJ issued the Joint Award against the Raiders and Rams the same day based on stipulations between the Raiders and Kacyvenski.This Joint Award provided that applicant sustained cumulative injury to various body parts from October 3, 2006 through August 13, 2007 while employed as a professional athlete, resulting in 44% permanent disability and a need for medical treatment.
Although the Rams did not participate in the trial as the non-elected employer, the WCJ awarded benefits to applicant jointly and severally against the Oakland Raiders and against the Rams even though they did not sign the stipulation. The Rams filed a timely Petition for Reconsideration. In their petition, the Rams’ contended that: (1) the Joint Award is based solely on the Stipulations between the Raiders and applicant; (2) the Rams are not a party to the Stipulations and Joint Award since Kacyvenski previously elected to proceed against the Raiders under Labor Code section 5500.5(c); (3) applicant.’s election precluded the Rams’ participation at trial when the Raiders and applicant entered into the stipulated award; and (4) therefore the Joint Award against the Rams violates due process. The Rams contended that the Joint Award is in excess of the WCJ’s powers under section 5903(a}, and request the WCAB to grant reconsideration and order an amended Joint Award solely against the Raiders.
The WCAB agreed in the panel decision of Kacyvenski v Oakland Raiders and granted reconsideration for purposes of amending the Award to remove the Rams from joint and several liability.
It is fundamental that due process requires opportunity to participate in the proceeding determining liability before liability is imposed. (Katzin v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 703, 711-712 [57 Cal.Comp.Cases 230, 236]; Fidelity and Cas. Co. of New York v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (Harris) (1980) 103 Cal.App.3d 1001, 1015 [45 Cal.Comp.Cases 381).)
Here Kacyvenski elected to proceed solely against the Raiders, and further participation by the Rams at trial resulting in the Joint Award was precluded under section 5500.S(c).
In September 2008, Kacyvenski, the first of five other former NFL players that soon followed, agreed to donate his brain upon his death to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, a joint program between the Boston University School of Medicine and Sports Legacy Institute in order to have research into the effects of concussions on the human brain performed. Kacyvenski was elected to the Board of Directors of Sports Legacy Institute in 2008, and has used this as a platform for awareness surrounding head trauma and making contact sports safer to play. Kacyvenski now works for cutting-edge conformal electronics technology company MC10, running their Sports Business. He developed the technology behind the CHECKLIGHT, a head impact measurement system, in a partnership with Reebok that launched in June 2013