A federal judge denied the NHL’s motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit that was brought on by former players over the league’s response to concussions and brain-related trauma, according to the Washington Post.
Over 100 former players put their name on the class-action suit. The suit covers all of the league’s 4,300 former players, who are seeking more comprehensive medical care. The suit also claims that the league has not done enough to promote player safety, and did not properly warn them of potential head trauma risks.
The league tried to get the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that its CBA precluded retired players from suing the NHL. U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson declared that it was too early to determine which CBA (if any) would be relevant in the suit.
According to the Washington Post, the ruling is bad for the NHL in the aspect of it will make private documents public, which could push the league to settle the lawsuit as to prevent such from happening.
Judge Nelson’s ruling wrote that the league wanted the case dismissed on the basis of labor law, despite the retired players not being subject to any CBA anymore.
According to the Washington Post, Nelson wrote:
“Discovery is necessary to shed light on the nature of Plaintiffs’ claims, when those claims accrued, and which – if any – CBAs might be relevant. If a full record ultimately reveals that Plaintiffs’ claims accrued while they were subject to a CBA, and that those claims are substantially dependent on interpretation of the CBA, then the Court could properly determine that the claims are preempted by labor law preemption. In the meantime, however, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is premature and must be denied.”
Stuart Davidson, who is one lawyer representing the players, said in a statement, via the Washington Post:
“District Judge Nelson’s order denying the NHL’s motion to dismiss on preemption grounds is an historic decision in American sports [and] labor law. We are thankful that retired NHL players will be permitted to continue to pursue their claims that the NHL withheld critical information about the risk of long-term neurological consequences from repetitive head trauma.
“Thousands of retired NHL players continue to suffer from the effects of head injuries suffered on the ice. The time is now for the NHL to take a leadership role in the international game of hockey and strive to ensure that retired players and their families receive the assistance they need and that the parents of youth hockey players receive truthful information about head trauma.”
This is unprecedented waters for a major sports league. The NFL had reached a settlement with retired players before the judge in their case could make a ruling on a motion to dismiss. Now, the NHL finds itself in some trouble.