The New Jersey Devils reportedly withheld medical records in a recent workers’ compensation case involving former NHL enforcer Mike Peluso. Peluso filed for workers’ compensation back in 2012 long after he hung up his skates following the 1997-98 season. The Devils, along with the other teams Peluso skated with during his career (St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames), were asked to turn over all of their medical documents to Peluso’s lawyer. The Devils apparently ignored that request regarding a couple documents which may be important to his case.
Via TSN, the Devils withheld specific documents because they believe they weren’t requested within the appropriate period.
But in a Nov. 15 decision obtained by TSN, California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board commissioner Marguerite Sweeney ruled that the Devils “wrongfully withheld” two documents that Peluso’s legal team says are crucial to his case.
One document is a Dec. 18, 1993, medical report confirming Peluso suffered a concussion after hitting his head on the ice during a fight. The second document is Feb. 21, 1994, report from a neurologist warning the Devils that Peluso could have further seizures if he suffered more head trauma.
Those reports surfaced in May 2016 and have been referenced by medical experts who testify Peluso is permanently disabled. The Devils said those reports should not be allowed into evidence because they weren’t filed within the appropriate period.
The Devils declined to comment on the situation, but it is worth noting that the Devils have changed owners since Peluso originally filed his claim.
The California Workers’ Compensation Board is tasked with deciding compensation for workers injured on the job and aim to limit fraud against former employers. With that in mind, how are they supposed to rule on Peluso’s situation with any degree of accuracy without all of the evidence from his career in the NHL?
There’s no question Peluso had concussions during his career and he is now suffering from some very serious medical problems including dementia, anxiety, memory loss and the risk of seizures at the age of 50. Peluso reportedly had 120 after sustaining significant head injuries and was allegedly not protected enough by the Devils to avoid additional complications.
This story is unique as it’s rare you hear a team withheld documents, but Peluso isn’t alone in his workers’ compensation case.
According to data obtained by TSN from California’s Department of Industrial Relations in April, 372 former National Hockey League players are linked to workers compensation payouts in California since 2008 for head injuries they suffered during their playing career.
That’s an incredibly disturbing, depressing statistic. Peluso’s case will be held in February and it’ll be interesting to see whether or not this case influences or changes any future case.