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Dodgers still fighting over Paul Shuey's salary

Paul3There might be no greater evidence of Frank McCourt's litigious stewardship of the Dodgers than this: Paul Shuey has not thrown a pitch for the Dodgers in eight years, and the team still is fighting with an insurance company about his salary.

The Dodgers paid Shuey $3.25 million for the 2004 season, but he did not pitch because of an injury. In 2006, the Dodgers sued to recover more than half of that money, charging that Hartford Life Insurance Co. failed to honor the team's claim.

The dispute surfaced in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday, when the Dodgers asked the court to approve an arbitration procedure to which the team and the insurance company have agreed.

In the suit, the Dodgers asked for $1.7 million in accordance with the insurance policy, plus unspecified punitive damages. In the Bankruptcy Court filing, the Dodgers said they had agreed not to pursue punitive damages but said they could be owed as much as $3 million by now, including interest and costs.

Shuey underwent hip surgery in October 2003. By the next spring, according to the suit, Shuey had not recovered velocity or effectiveness on his pitches, and the Dodgers planned to put him on the disabled list at the start of the season.

In a fielding drill on March 31, 2004 -- one day after the policy expired, according to the suit -- he tore a tendon in his right thumb. He rehabilitated that injury, but he could not recover his pitching form, as his hip continued to bother him. He underwent another hip operation in July 2004 and did not return to the major leagues until 2007, with the Baltimore Orioles. He retired after that season.

According to the suit, the Dodgers filed a claim to recover the majority of Shuey's 2004 salary, citing his disability because of the hip injury. Hartford denied the claim, the suit alleges, citing Shuey's participation in spring training as evidence he was not "totally disabled" under the policy and arguing any subsequent inability to play could be traced to the thumb injury and therefore would not be covered.

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-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Former Dodgers pitcher Paul Shuey delivers during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 9, 2002. Credit: Krista Niles / Associated Press

 
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