ST. LOUIS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently sided with the St. Louis Rams, now the Los Angeles Rams, in dismissing a negligence suit filed by cheerleader who was injured during a goodwill trip to Qatar in 2016.
In a Jan. 30 filing, U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White dismissed claims against the team and the team's director of special events, Keely Fimbres-Bledsoe, in the suit filed by the cheerleader, Emily W. Hawkins.
Hawkins filed the suit after she suffered a fractured leg in an accident while riding a utility task vehicle (UTV) during a goodwill trip to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, court filings said. After her initial treatment in Qatar, the Air Force and the Rams couldn’t decide who was supposed to pay for evacuating Hawkins back to the U.S. for more treatment. The Rams ended up paying $150,000 for a flight the Air Force booked and Hawkins departed five days after the incident. She had undergone three surgeries by then.
Hawkins filed suit against the St. Louis Rams, Los Angeles Rams, Fimbres-Bledsoe and other defendants for negligence in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis. Her husband also sued for loss of consortium. The Rams then removed the case to federal court before the team and Fimbres-Bledsoe filed the motion to dismiss.
In the filing, the Rams confirmed Hawkins was an employee when she was injured in the accident. The court added that “the Rams provided documentation that they have paid Ms. Hawkins temporary disability in accordance with (Missouri’s Workers’ Compensation Act) and paid for additional medical treatment for the same injury at the center of this lawsuit.” Since Hawkins worked for the Rams, her lawsuit is barred from the exclusivity provision in section 287.120.2. So, the negligence claim against the Rams was dismissed. As for the loss of consortium claim from Hawkins’ husband, the court looked at a previous ruling from the Supreme Court of Missouri and determined the workers’ compensation act also blocks this claim in its exclusivity provision.
The court also dismissed the claims against Fimbres-Bledsoe and said Hawkins didn’t prove Fimbres-Bledsoe actually had a responsibility, apart from the Rams, to provide a safe workplace for Hawkins. While Hawkins said Fimbres-Bledsoe didn’t stop her from getting on the vehicle, didn’t get travel insurance and didn’t properly arrange transportation after the injury, the court ultimately decided Fimbres-Bledsoe isn’t responsible for these damages and dismissed the claims.