Former NHL Players Will Not Appeal

Michael Cashman, a Minnesota lawyer representing former NHL players who filed lawsuits against the NHL, said that the former NHL players would not appeal United States District Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s decision. As we have recently covered, Judge Nelson declined to certify a class of thousands of former NHL players who sued the NHL. The player claimed that the league failed to inform them of the health risks caused by concussions and head-related trauma, even though the league had knowledge of such information. Judge Nelson refused to certify the class because the applicable law between the various states and provinces is too varied to administer under one class.

According to Cashman, it will now be up to players to pursue their own claims against the league. Cashman said, “[t]here’s no more hiding in the back room. Players need to be aware that if they want to seek any relief they are going to have to file their own case.” In order to bring their claims, the former players will have to sue the league individually. However, players need “to understand that there’s a statute of limitations that may now be running,” Cashman said. Cashman continued, the statute of limitations “works differently from state to state but generally plaintiffs have a limited period of time to file a lawsuit after they knew or ought to have known that they have a potential claim. When there’s a class-action decision pending, that time tolling is put on hold. With this decision, it moves ahead.”

Cashman also expressed his concern about NHL player’s willingness to sue the NHL. According to Cashman, former players have told him they are worried that they would not be invited to alumni events if they joined the lawsuit against the NHL. “These guys are afraid,” Cashman said, “[i]n football, players aren’t in the NFL system until they are drafted by an NFL team after college. That’s different in hockey where you have to develop skating and stickhandling skills and players are sent away at 14 to play junior hockey and they are totally indoctrinated, told [to] ‘listen to your coach. Do whatever he says.’ In the NFL, that doesn’t happen.” Cashman also expressed his concern about player’s willingness to exercise their rights. According to Cashman, “it seems like in Canada,” where hockey is more poplar compared to the U.S., “it’s more like you take your lumps and do it yourself for better or worse.” However, in the U.S., “people [are] exposed to more media, especially in the past 20 or 30 years[,] and you’ve got rights for just about everything and people are trained to pursue them.”

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