Attorneys Debate California’s Worker Compensation Laws and the Role They Play with Concussions

Modesto Diaz and Michael Gianchino have most assuredly spent many years opposing one another in
workers’ compensation cases in the state of California.

Diaz, the managing partner at Santa Ana-based Leviton Diaz & Ginocchio, Inc. represents plaintiffs,
while Gianchino, a partner an Oakland-based Hanna, Brophy, Maclean, McAleer & Jensen, LLP,
works with defendants.

But on one Friday afternoon in May, the veteran lawyers shared a table, along with moderator
Richard L Wagenheim of Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm, at the annual Sports Lawyers Association
meeting in Los Angeles. They sought to find common ground at the intersection of sports concussions
and workers compensation claims in that state.

At best what they found was a tiny patch of grass.

Throughout the session, Diaz empathized with former professional athletes, who have suffered
cognitive decline after having their “bell rung” too many times over their careers. Meanwhile
Gianchino questioned whether there was “substantial medical evidence” linking garden-variety impacts
in professional sports with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Diaz set the stage, noting that California is one of a handful of states that recognize the cumulative
trauma injury, which occurs over a period of time.

“One occurrence may not be that significant, but if it happens over an extended period over a time,
such as player’s career, then you have an issue,” he said. “No one wants to accept responsibility for
the consequences of these injuries and this is where I frequently interact with defense counsel.”

Gianchino was then asked by the moderator if repeated blows to the head can ultimately lead to an
insidious, progressive disease?