NBA-er: team’s medical ineligibility ruling was disability discrimination

by Walter Olson on November 21, 2011

“Former National Basketball Association player Cuttino Mobley sued Madison Square Garden LP, parent of the New York Knicks, alleging that the team discriminated against him based on what it perceived to be a disability.
Mobley, who hasn’t played since the 2008-09 season, says the Knicks ended his career by having him declared medically ineligible to play because of a heart ailment, according to the complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.” [Bloomberg, NY Post]

{ 1 comment }

1 wfjag 11.22.11 at 1:34 pm

“When a cardiovascular abnormality is identified in a competitive athlete, there are several questions to consider: What is the risk of sudden death if the athlete continues to participate in organized sports? Would the risk be reduced if the athlete stopped training and competing? Which criteria should be used to determine the athlete’s eligibility for (or disqualification from) athletic competition? However, the disqualification process can become polarized,
given the personal desires and aspirations of the athlete and the mandate of the physician to protect patients from circumstances that incur unacceptable risks. ” (footnotes omitted)
Moran, Sudden Death in Young Athletes, N Engl J Med 2003;349:1064-75 at pg. 1072.
According to a study of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation Registry’s records from 1980 to 2005 as to the cardiovascular causes of sudden death in 1435 young athletes, 36% (plus possibly 8% more) of the deaths were caused by HCM, the medical condition that apparently Mobley is diagnosed with. If he was allowed to continue to play, when he dropped over, the Knicks and NBA would likely be liable for his wrongful death. The courts do not appear to be the suitable forum in which to address the issues Dr. Moran raised.

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