NHL Fails to Secure Quick Exit From Concussion Litigation

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On Wednesday, March 25, Federal Judge Susan Nelson denied the NHL’s motion to dismiss the class action concussion injury lawsuit brought against it by former NHL players.

Several different complaints against the NHL were consolidated last October in which six former players, seeking to represent all players living and deceased, argue that the NHL failed to inform them of the health risks caused by concussions and head-related trauma though the league had knowledge, research, and resources of such information.  The allegations mostly follow the lead taken by the NFL and NCAA concussion plaintiffs, but differ in one significant regard.  The players here argue that the NHL perpetuates a violent culture that increases the risk of head injuries.  As a sport that doesn’t simply tolerate, but supports and even glorifies violence, this argument could have substantial effect.

The NHL responded with this motion to dismiss the action to try and get out of the lawsuit quickly.  The NHL argues the claims in the complaint are time-barred by the relevant statutes of limitations.  The NHL also claims that the plaintiffs’ fraud-based claims are not plead with sufficient particularity and the medical monitoring claims are not recognized in the relevant jurisdictions.

The court entered an Order on Wednesday, denying the entire motion and refuting all of the NHL’s arguments.  NHL Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly, commented: “While we would have hoped for a different result on this motion, we understand that the case is at a relatively early stage, and there will be ample opportunity for us to establish our defenses as the discovery process progresses.”  As we have seen with the other major sports’ concussion-related lawsuits, this will likely be a long and arduous road for all parties involved.

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