Former NHL Players sue NHL Over Head Injuries
Written by James P. Nevin
Ten former National Hockey League players claim in a class-action lawsuit that the NHL concealed ‘the severe risk of brain injuries’ and ‘exposed players to unnecessary dangers.’
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia and seeks compensatory and punitive damages in addition to a court-supervised, league-funded medical monitoring program that would diagnose and treat head injuries. The suit follows only months after the NFL settled for $765 million in a similar suit brought by 4,500 retired players and their families who said the league failed to disclose the long-term impact of head injuries.
The lawsuit contends the NHL ignored medical research on head injuries and didn’t promote players’ safety until it instituted a concussion program in 1997 and concussion protocols in 2011. It also states that the NHL’s purposeful concealment of the severe risks of brain injuries exposed players to unnecessary dangers they could have avoided if they were properly informed and if the league had taken appropriate actions to prevent needless harm. Finally, it claims the league “nurtured a culture of violence,” and encouraged players to play despite being injured.
The players bringing the suit were Brad Aitken, Darren Banks, Curt Bennett, Richard Dunn, former King Warren Holmes, Gary Leeman, Bob Manno, Blair Stewart, Morris Titanic and Rick Vaive.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says they are completely satisfied with how the league and Players’ Association has managed player safety over time, including head injuries and concussions. The league intends to “defend the case vigorously.”
According to Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey, a prominent agent for LA County, the NHL commenced its concussion program 16 years ago and then took no affirmative steps to protect its players until 2011. He expects to see many players seeking to join this class-action litigation and others in the future filed in different jurisdictions.