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 as Peluso moves forward with a lawsuit against his former teams claiming battery, battery with aggravation of injury, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraudulent concealment, and civil conspiracy, among other claims.

In April of 2017, Peluso filed suit in U.S. District Court in Minnesota against the New Jersey Devils, the St. Louis Blues, and their insurance carriers. The complaint alleges that Peluso’s former teams knew of a link between Peluso’s risk of head injuries and potential permanent brain damage but continued to clear him to play. In a 2015 article, Peluso explains his earliest memories of suffering concussions and seizures throughout the season, yet remaining in the lineup pursuant to clearance by team doctors and trainers. Peluso kept skating and dropping the gloves despite the symptoms he experienced. His quality of life has suffered as a result. To date, Peluso has suffered numerous seizures and is permanently disabled with “zero post-injury earnings capacity.”

The newest development in the case came on Thursday, May 10, 2018, when Peluso filed a Motion for Leave to amend his complaint against the organizations and their insurance carriers. Peluso says he has new evidence that the organizations were not only concealing the risk of brain injury, but also concealing facts indicating that Peluso had already suffered injuries. The judge granted the motion, allowing Peluso to amend his complaint. The amended complaint will seek to rebut the defendants’ challenge that Peluso’s lawsuit is identical to a case already being in heard in the workers’ compensation context. Peluso will amend the complaint with new facts in an attempt to prove that his former teams ignored evidence of his injuries, leading to the current state of his life after hockey.

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