Atlanta Braves Sue Hartford Over Pitcher's Disability (Update1)

By Laurence Viele Davidson and David Beasley
Bloomberg News
February 17, 2009

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Atlanta Braves baseball team is suing a unit of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., claiming it failed to pay $4.8 million in disability benefits for former pitcher Mike Hampton.

Hartford Life Insurance Co. stopped paying the Braves $41,209 in daily benefits for Hampton during the 2008 season, the team said in a complaint filed Feb. 13 in federal court in Atlanta. Hampton was totally disabled from some time before October 2005 until he came off the disabled list last July, according to the suit.

The insurance company investigated the claim and, according to the complaint, determined that Hampton was no longer totally disabled in the 2008 season and it didn't owe the team money.

The Hartford's disability investigation results were an "erroneous conclusion," the suit said.

Hampton, 36, had 60 starts for the Braves in 2003 and 2004. He missed 118 games in 2005 and sat out the next two seasons after twice undergoing elbow surgery. The left-hander signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Houston Astros in December.

Hampton has a record of 141 wins and 105 losses during his 14 seasons in the Major Leagues, and his career earned run average is 4.01, according to the Web site

Kelly Carter, a spokeswoman for Hartford, Connecticut-based Hartford Financial Services, said today she couldn't comment on the complaint. Braves spokeswoman Meagan Swingle also declined to comment.

Hartford fell $2.48, or 20 percent, to $9.98 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has slumped 39 percent this year.

The Braves suit for breach of contract seeks $4.82 million plus interest on that amount.

The case is Atlanta National Baseball League Club Inc. v. Hartford Life Insurance, 09cv0403, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).

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