Retired NHL Veteran Alleging Former Teams Knew of Brain Injuries

After making his NHL debut in 1989, Mike Peluso played nine professional seasons as a bruising left winger for five different NHL franchises. He won the Stanley Cup in 1995 as an enforcer on the New Jersey Devils’ “Crash Line”. After his retirement in 1998, the long-term effects of his role as an enforcer and the resulting brain injuries formed the basis of a workers’ compensation suit against his former teams. The most recent allegations, however, have implications outside of workers’ compensation context…
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Former NFL Players Demand Certainty, Haste in Assessment of Fraud Allegations in $1 Billion Settlement

On April 23, 2018, counsel for former NFL football players involved in the $1 billion concussion settlement filed a motion opposing a Pennsylvania court’s ruling which allowed the NFL to conduct ex parte interviews with the doctors who treated the players. As we have previously covered, the release of settlements had been slowed due to potentially fraudulent claims, allegedly “clogging the system,” and delaying relief to former players who had legitimate injuries. The motion filed by the Neurocognitive Football Lawyers (NCFL) sought to address…
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Widow of Notre Dame Football Player Hopeful for CTE Suit to Stand

As we have previously covered, the wife of former Notre Dame football player, Steven Schmitz, filed a lawsuit targeting Notre Dame and the NCAA in 2014 on behalf of her late husband. She is seeking to recover for the college and organization’s alleged “reckless disregard” for the safety of college football players, specifically during the time period that Schmitz spent playing for the team in the 1970s, which led to his diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 2012, and his ultimate passing in…
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Former Chicago Bear Sues NFL for Damages from Concussions

On March 27, 2018, former Chicago Bear Craig Steltz filed a lawsuit against the NFL in Louisiana federal court. In the lawsuit, Steltz requested financial compensation for the chronic injuries, expenses, and intangible losses suffered as a result of the NFL’s “intentional tortious misconduct, including fraud, intentional misrepresentation, and negligence.” Steltz claimed that he suffers from the pathological and debilitating effects of mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI) caused by the repeated concussive and sub-concussive impacts that he experienced while playing in the NFL. Steltz, a…
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Judge Scales Back Discovery in NCAA Wrongful Death Suit

On March 1, 2018, a Texas court of appeals filed a writ of mandamus, partially granting and partially denying the NCAA’s appeal of a prior discovery order. The suit was initiated by Debra Ploetz, wife of former University of Texas football player, Greg Ploetz, who played for the team from 1968 to 1972 and who died in 2015 from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). The wrongful death suit alleges the late athlete’s CTE condition and subsequent death resulted directly from his years spent playing for…
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Colombia Law School Holds Conference on NFL Concussion Lawsuit’s Uncapped Settlement Fund

On March 2, 2018, at a conference on class action jurisprudence held at Columbia Law School, advocates and opponents discussed U.S. District Judge Anita Brody’s decision to move the NFL concussion class-action litigation toward an uncapped settlement. Judge Brody, a Columbia Law graduate, attended the conference. As previously reported, in April 2015, the NFL entered into a settlement agreement with almost 22,000 former players. The settlement established a 65-year uncapped monetary fund for players who could prove certain neurological diagnoses. The settlement provided a…
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A Class of Former Players and the NFL Jointly Ask Judge to Remove Expert

On February 27, 2018, attorneys representing the NFL and attorneys representing a class of former NFL players jointly asked U.S. District Judge Anita Brody to remove neurologist Dr. Stephan Mayer from the Appeals Advisory Panel (APP). The attorney’s agreed that Dr. Brian Ott and Dr. Mary Quiceno should replace Dr. Mayer “given the demands on the … AAP in the implementation and on-going administration settlement.” As we have previously covered regarding the NFL concussion settlement, Judge Brody approved two groups of medical experts that made…
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NHL Moves to Bar Testimony of Four Expert Witnesses in Concussion Litigation

On February 9, 2018, two proposed classes of NHL players asked U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson not to bar expert testimony of four experts. The players argued that the experts provided necessary information that is pertinent to their lawsuit. The suit began when former NHL players claimed that the NHL failed to inform them of the health risks caused by concussions and head-related trauma even though the league had knowledge of such information. The NHL argued that epidemiologist Dr. R. Dawn Comstock’s opinions…
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Judge Stays Aaron Hernandez’s Consortium Suit

On January 23, 2018, U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. decided to stay a suit brought by Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, the fiancée of the late New England Patriots tight end Arron Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez committed suicide in prison while awaiting the appeal of his murder conviction. A court can stop, or “stay,” a proceeding or trial temporarily or indefinitely. Judge O’Toole ordered a stay on Ms. Jenkins-Hernandez’s suit in order to await a ruling by a Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The panel is deciding…
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NFL Continues to Argue Hernandez Suit is a Matter of Federal Labor Law

On December 18, 2017, the National Football League responded in opposition to Avielle Hernandez’s motion to remand her lawsuit against the NFL back to state court. Also named in the suit are helmet maker Riddell and other related companies. Avielle’s lawsuit seeks compensation for the NFL’s role in her father’s, Aaron Hernandez’s, post-mortem diagnosis of stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Those diagnosed with CTE exhibit symptoms that include impulse control issues, aggression, depression, dementia, and suicidality. Hernandez committed suicide while serving a life sentence…
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