Federal Judge Dismisses Two Ex-NHL Players’ Concussion Lawsuits

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A Minnesota federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the NHL by two former players, finding that the court lacks jurisdiction over the suit.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson dismissed two lawsuits, filed by Andre Deveaux and Todd Harvey, without prejudice. Judge Nelson reasoned that the players lacked a connection to Minnesota for jurisdiction. Deveaux and Harvey never played for a Minnesota hockey team, nor did they present enough evidence linking them to the state.

As we previously reported, Judge Nelson oversaw a $19 million settlement between the NHL and over 300 retired players who sued the league. The NHL did not acknowledge any liability, while each player who opted into the settlement would receive around $22,000 in cash and up to $75,000 toward medical treatment.

Deveaux and Harvey claimed in their lawsuits that the NHL lied to them and others about the long-term dangers of concussions. They argued that, for decades, the NHL knew that repeated hits to the head caused degenerative brain damage, yet hid this knowledge from players. These claims are nearly identical to those made in the lawsuit that resulted in the $19 million settlement.

Originally, other NHL players joined Deveaux and Harvey in their lawsuit. However, the players either withdrew or had their claims dismissed, leaving the duo as the last plaintiffs standing. Further, Judge Nelson noted that neither player responded to the NHL’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

The NHL settlement is comparable to the NFL settlement reached in 2015. That settlement is uncapped and is expected to pay out over $1 billion to retired players. The NFL settlement has been controversial: while the NFL has accused players of exaggerating their illnesses, some players and their families have found that their settlement amounts were inadequate.

Meanwhile, the NHL settlement has been seen more as a victory for the league, rather than the plaintiffs. This is because Judge Nelson refused to certify a class of players, cutting the class size down from over 5,000 to around 300.

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