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Judge Denies Class Certification for Former Hockey Players in NHL Concussion Lawsuit
Judge Denies Class Certification for Former Hockey Players in NHL Concussion Lawsuit

By: Allan M. Siegel

On Friday July 13, 2018, a Minnesota federal judge declined to certify a class of thousands of current and former hockey players who alleged the National Hockey League (NHL) failed to reveal what it knew about the life-altering harmful effects of head trauma in the sport. According to the judge’s ruling, the large variance in state medical monitoring laws would make it too difficult to address in one class.

As we discussed in a recent blog post, the NHL concussion lawsuit is similar in scope to those involving the NFL and other collegiate and professional sports organizations. In the suit, like others, former and current athletes claimed that the league failed to protect athletes against the long-term effects of brain injuries and repeated head trauma, and that the NHL concealed what it knew about those risks.

While our post focused on the story of two former NHL players who filed suit against the league, we also discussed the pending litigation in Minnesota District Court and the attempts of roughly 5,000 players to consolidate in a single class action. Those players also attempted to group claimants according to their states of residence and how those states handle medical monitoring relief, which is permitted by a number of states in cases involving exposure to risks and an increased likelihood of developing a future disease, including neurological conditions such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and others that can result from repeated head injuries.

However, those efforts were shot down last Friday by the federal judge who stated that a single class action would create considerable case management difficulties, especially in relation to state laws on medical monitoring. Due to these differences in state laws, the judge ruled that medical monitoring should be subject to state law and applied on a player-by-player basis depending on where they spent the majority of their career.

NHL Concussion Lawsuit Moving Forward

Although the recent ruling may not have been what players were looking to achieve, they still have the opportunity to make their voices heard and seek justice on the basis of their claims – which is that the NHL concealed information about the links between head injuries and long-term health consequences. Although litigation may take some time, the current and former players involved, as well as their families, will be looking to accomplish a few key objectives:

  • Discover what the NHL knew about the links between head injuries and health risks;
  • Ensure fair compensation for athletes suffering from neurological conditions and other health issues as a result of their careers;
  • Establish medical monitoring for current and former players;
  • Promote greater awareness, better safety policies, and possible rule changes that can protect current and future athletes in the professional ranks.

The fight for justice in cases as high profile and high stakes as the NHL concussion lawsuit can be a long and arduous process. However, as we have seen in cases like the recently finalized concussion settlement against the NFL, these lawsuits are critical to helping everyone understand the profound and life-altering risks athletes face as a result of playing sports, entertaining fans, and earning money for their teams. This understanding would not only help gain support for efforts that keep athletes safe and provide them with needed resources throughout and after their athletic careers, but also for prompting new rules and laws that protect people of all ages who enjoy sports at any level.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our legal team will continue to follow the pending NHL concussion lawsuit and other similar newsworthy cases involving brain injuries. We will also continue to fight for local victims and families across Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia as they look to protect their rights following preventable brain injuries. If you would like more information about brain injuries, personal injury lawsuits, and our extensive work in this field, please contact us for a free consultation.

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Recent Posts
  • Judge Denies Class Certification for Former Hockey Players in NHL Concussion Lawsuit

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    On Friday July 13, 2018, a Minnesota federal judge declined to certify a class of thousands of current and former hockey players who alleged the National Hockey League (NHL) failed to reveal what it knew about the life-altering harmful effects of head trauma in the sport. According to the judge’s ruling, the large variance in state medical monitoring laws would make it too difficult to address in one class.

    As we discussed in a recent blog post, the NHL concussion lawsuit is similar in scope to those involving the NFL and other collegiate and professional sports organizations. In the suit, like others, former and current athletes claimed that the league failed to protect athletes against the long-term effects of brain injuries and repeated head trauma, and that the NHL concealed what it knew about those risks.

    While our post focused on the story of two former NHL players who filed suit against the league, we also discussed the pending litigation in Minnesota District Court and the attempts of roughly 5,000 players to consolidate in a single class action. Those players also attempted to group claimants according to their states of residence and how those states handle medical monitoring relief, which is permitted by a number of states in cases involving exposure to risks and an increased likelihood of developing a future disease, including neurological conditions such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and others that can result from repeated head injuries.

    However, those efforts were shot down last Friday by the federal judge who stated that a single class action would create considerable case management difficulties, especially in relation to state laws on medical monitoring. Due to these differences in state laws, the judge ruled that medical monitoring should be subject to state law and applied on a player-by-player basis depending on where they spent the majority of their career.

    NHL Concussion Lawsuit Moving Forward

    Although the recent ruling may not have been what players were looking to achieve, they still have the opportunity to make their voices heard and seek justice on the basis of their claims – which is that the NHL concealed information about the links between head injuries and long-term health consequences. Although litigation may take some time, the current and former players involved, as well as their families, will be looking to accomplish a few key objectives:

    • Discover what the NHL knew about the links between head injuries and health risks;
    • Ensure fair compensation for athletes suffering from neurological conditions and other health issues as a result of their careers;
    • Establish medical monitoring for current and former players;
    • Promote greater awareness, better safety policies, and possible rule changes that can protect current and future athletes in the professional ranks.

    The fight for justice in cases as high profile and high stakes as the NHL concussion lawsuit can be a long and arduous process. However, as we have seen in cases like the recently finalized concussion settlement against the NFL, these lawsuits are critical to helping everyone understand the profound and life-altering risks athletes face as a result of playing sports, entertaining fans, and earning money for their teams. This understanding would not only help gain support for efforts that keep athletes safe and provide them with needed resources throughout and after their athletic careers, but also for prompting new rules and laws that protect people of all ages who enjoy sports at any level.

    At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our legal team will continue to follow the pending NHL concussion lawsuit and other similar newsworthy cases involving brain injuries. We will also continue to fight for local victims and families across Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia as they look to protect their rights following preventable brain injuries. If you would like more information about brain injuries, personal injury lawsuits, and our extensive work in this field, please contact us for a free consultation.

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  • Former Hockey Players File Concussion Lawsuit Against NHL

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    In June, two former NHL players recently followed up on their outspoken efforts to raise awareness about concussions in professional hockey by filing a formal lawsuit against the league. The lawsuit was filed against the NHL on Thursday June 21, 2018 in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, and alleges that the league and its officials concealed what it knew about the long-term repercussions of head injuries sustained in the sport.

    The NHL concussion lawsuit is similar in scope to many of the high profile lawsuits we have covered on our blog over the years – including the infamous NFL concussion lawsuit, recently settled for $1 billion in 2016, and a pending lawsuit against the NCAA over concussions in collegiate football. This NHL suit, however, does not just focus on the risks associated with head injuries athletes can suffer during play, but also the concussions and brain injuries they suffer in fights.

    As it is well known to even the most casual hockey viewers, fighting is seen as a common and accepted part of the sport. In the suit spearheaded by the two former players – Daniel Carcillo and Nick Boynton – who both suffer from long-term, degenerative brain conditions, the athletes claim that the league failed to warn them about the risks of suffering head injuries not only during practice and play, but also as a result of fights on the ice. Both Carcillo and Boynton were known for fighting during their careers, and both claim the injuries they suffered now adversely affect their lives.

    Dozens of other former hockey players are part of a similar lawsuit against the league in federal court, which was initially filed in 2013. That case is still pending, and will be joined by the latest suit in Minnesota district court.

    In the lawsuit, the two athletes allege some important claims against the league. These include:

    • Claims that the league consistently encouraged and allowed athletes to return to games or practice after suffering concussions.
    • Claims that the league permitted and promoted fighting, even amongst younger players in its semi-professional ranks

    As we have discussed in depth on our blogs, concussions and brain injuries are known for their substantial and far-reaching short and long-term risks. This includes long-term neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Parkinson’s, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition found in an alarming 99% of former NFL athletes.

    Carcillo and Boynton have expressed their goals with filing the latest lawsuit, and they are similar to the terms enacted as part of the NFL concussion lawsuit settlement. This includes having the NHL publicly acknowledging the serious risks associated with playing in their league and ensuring it makes efforts to care for those who have suffered damage and adverse neurological conditions as a result of their careers, such as through establishing a fund for former players and families. Like the NCAA concussion lawsuit, the outcome of cases filed against the NHL could also change the future of the sport, especially when it comes to whether the league will continue to condone fighting, or ban it entirely.

    As a law firm named “Preferred Attorneys” for the DC Metro Area by the Brain Injury Association of America, our team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. will continue to closely follow the NHL concussion lawsuit and other similar cases involving concussions, brain injuries, and victims’ rights. We are also available to discuss potential personal injury cases involving brain injuries sustained in sports and preventable accidents with victims and families throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. If you would like to speak with an award-winning brain injury lawyer from our firm, call (202) 644-8303 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.

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  • Former Football Player Discusses Impact of Collegiate Career and NCAA Concussion Lawsuit

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    We’ve written a lot on brain injuries and high-profile cases involving sports-related concussions and their impact on athletes. This includes the pending concussion lawsuit against the NCAA filed by more than 100 former players who claim they now suffer with lasting consequences as a result of playing college football, and allege the organization failed to protect them from long-term risks associated with head injuries. While we may discuss these cases in terms of the law and the legal issues they introduce, we never forget that the individuals who bring these claims are real people whose lives, families, and futures have been profoundly affected by their athletic careers.

    In a recent article from The Washington Post, those struggles are profiled in a featured story about Les Williams, a former defensive end who played at Alabama (one of collegiate football’s leading powerhouse teams) in the early 2000s. After Williams fell short of reaching his dreams of playing in the NFL, the lingering consequences of his time playing football have made his assimilation into a more humble working class life all the more difficult – and those struggles have been the reason he and many others like him have joined the lawsuit against the NCAA.

    The Lasting Impact of Head Injuries

    In the article, Williams credits many of his daily struggles to his collegiate football career and his serious and repeated head injuries. These include constant headaches, mood and behavioral changes, depression, angry outbursts, and even suicidal thoughts, all of which have impacted his ability to work, his marriage, and his interpersonal relationships with friends, coworkers, and others. He said the culture of toughness and lack of information about concussions and safety protocol caused him and many others to stay quiet after suffering head injuries and to simply “walk it off.”

    Williams’ struggles are the very same suffered by numerous former college football players, and are believed to be symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a serious neurological disorder that has been linked to repeat concussions. One study from Boston University identified CTE in roughly 90% of former college players (and an alarming 99% of NFL veterans). Statistics like these, and the struggles Williams has come to endure, speak volumes about the risks of playing football, as well as the need to protect the futures of vulnerable student athletes.

    NCAA Concussion Lawsuit

    One way these protections may come to fruition is through the first large group of concussion related lawsuits pending against the NCAA. Along with Williams, more than 100 former college football players in the consolidated class action lawsuit are suing the NCAA for its failures in protecting student athletes, specifically by failing to educate them about concussions and protect them from risks associated with repeat head injuries. A similar case involving the death of former University of Texas linebacker Greg Ploetz, who was diagnosed post-mortem with CTE, is adding additional pressure and scrutiny on the NCAA.

    Those players are not only seeking compensation for their damages, but also important changes and reform in how the organization addresses concussions and how it treats current, past, and future players who suffer brain injuries and various neurological conditions as a result. While similar to the infamous NFL concussion lawsuit, the NCAA case takes on a unique slant because the players who claim the organization failed to protect them aren’t compensated financially like professionals, and like Williams may never go on to play professionally. This, many believe, is all the more reason for the NCAA to ensure they protect athletes’ futures.

    Support for Brain Injury Victims

    Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is committed to supporting brain injury initiatives and awareness efforts that help victims and families struggling with profound setbacks, and to protecting others from suffering similar fates. In addition to our role in organizations like the Brain Injury Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and our support of legislation like the DC Youth Athletic Concussion Protection Act drafted by our own Partner Joseph Cammarata, our firm is also available to help brain injury victims understand their legal rights and the personal injury claim process. If you wish to discuss a case, contact us for a free consultation.

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  • Who Can Be Held Liable for a Swimming Pool Accident?

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    Swimming pools are a popular way to cool off during the summer months, and while they can be a fun way to beat the heat or get your exercise, pools are not without their risks. That’s especially the case when negligence is involved.

    At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our Washington, DC personal injury lawyers see and hear of many cases involving swimming pool accidents in the local area during the summer months, and receive many calls involving injuries, drowning accidents, near-drowning, and death that take place in and around pools. Because these accidents are much different from cases involving car accidents – where the at-fault party may be obviously apparent (i.e. a drunk driver) – many individuals and families we speak with are unsure as to whether or not their accidents could have been prevented, whether or not they have a potential personal injury or wrongful death claim, and who ultimately can be held liable for their damages.

    As we often tell readers of our blog and local residents who ask questions in passing, fault and liability in accident cases are always a matter that depends on the facts involved. While every case is unique, there are some general issues of law involved, and some common examples of how liability may work when it comes to a swimming pool accident. Below, we provide a few examples of parties that may be held liable for damages victims sustain in swimming pool accidents:

    Property Owners

    Owners of swimming pools may be held liable for injuries sustained by visitors and guests under premises liability laws. Generally, these laws focus on the legal duties property owners have when it comes to ensuring safe conditions on their premises and the safety of guests. However, that “duty of care” can vary depending on who owns the pool and who the injured party is. For example:

    • Privately owned pools – Owners of private pools may be held liable for injuries suffered by visitors and guests when they fail to address potential hazards that pose risks of drowning, near-drowning, and other swimming pool injuries (such as slips and falls). This may include a lack of supervision (even if the only reasonable step to supervise would be to have an adult watching children use a pool) and failures to prevent unauthorized or unsupervised access to a pool, especially when it comes to children.

    Depending on the circumstances, victims injured in swimming pool accidents on private property may have the right to bring claims against a property owner and their homeowner’s insurance, or a private business that owned the pool (such as a gym or local youth center). In other cases, victims may need to determine if there is a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) that would bear responsibility for conditions on and near pools, or whether accidents and injuries resulted from the negligent supervision of private entities like day care centers or summer camp programs.

    While property owners owe a duty to keep visitors, guests, and individuals under their supervision (i.e. children of day care centers or campers) safe from preventable swimming pool accidents, they do not generally owe this duty to individuals who trespass on their property. However, there may be some exceptions to liability involving “trespassers” when injured victims are children who were attracted to an swimming pool and able to gain access due to a lack of gates or fencing.

    Local Government (Public Pools)

    Premises liability laws also apply to public pools. As such, local government agencies tasked with overseeing and maintaining public swimming pools and facilities may be held liable for victims’ injuries. Examples of public swimming pool accidents that may result in government liability include:

    • Failures to supervise or provide adequately trained supervision
    • Failures to maintain premises and address potential dangers (i.e. tripping hazards, unsafe equipment, etc.)
    • Insufficient lighting if swimming pool accidents occur at open facilities at night
    • Negligent security
    • Failures to maintain clean premises in accordance to health and safety regulations

    Because there are unique laws that apply in personal injury cases involving government liability, it is strongly encouraged that victims bring potential claims to the attention of experienced lawyers as soon as possible. There may be a different statute of limitations (time limit) that applies to these cases.

    Day Care / Summer Camp Programs

    Many day care and summer camp programs that cater to children make swimming a part of their summer activities. Whether these programs use a private pool on their property or visit another facility, they are accountable for supervising children and ensuring their safety. As such, they can potentially be held liable for injuries that result from a lack of supervision or negligent supervision.

    Product Manufacturers

    Although many personal injury cases involving swimming pool accidents involve negligent supervision or dangerous conditions that went unaddressed on private or public property, some may involve injuries caused by defective and unsafe products. This may include:

    • Defective pool toys
    • Defective cleaning equipment
    • Defective pools or drains

    Depending on the circumstances, victims injured when using products as intended may have product liability claims against a manufacturer that negligently designed, manufactured, or marketed a defective product.

    CSCS: Fighting for Victims of Preventable Accidents

    Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is a DC-based law firm that has been fighting for injured victims and families throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia for decades. If you or your loved one have recently been injured in a swimming pool accident and would like more information about your rights and whether you may have a potential personal injury case, our attorneys are available to speak with you during a free and confidential consultation. Contact us to learn more about your situation and our services.

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  • Fourth of July Safety Tips

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. would like to wish everyone a happy, safe, and enjoyable Fourth of July. During this time of year, we are thankful to live in a country where citizens have rights and freedoms and where there are systems in place that allow the wronged and injured to obtain justice. In past blogs, we have discussed the American civil justice system and the importance of jury duty, and we want to remind our clients and local residents that these systems exist because we live in a country founded on democracy – the same country where we can actively take a stand against efforts that aim to change laws so as to put public safety at risk or limit the rights of victims.

    Our firm would also like to remind everyone who plans on celebrating our nation's independence to be safe this coming holiday. Whether you and your loved ones are planning backyard pool parties, barbecues, or fun with fireworks, safety should always be a priority, and especially so if children are celebrating too.

    Here are a few helpful tips to help you stay safe this Fourth of July:

    1. Firework Safety – Fireworks are a tradition on July 4th, but they are also responsible for sending an average of 230 people to the emergency room each day during the month before and after the holiday, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. While it is always best to watch shows put on by professionals, we understand that some may choose to celebrate with fireworks of their own. If you plan on using fireworks, be sure to do so safely, follow instructions, keep spectators at a safe distance, and monitor children closely. Never light fireworks indoors or in dangerous areas where they may endanger other people or property. Fireworks for personal use must often be "safe and sane" and should comply with your local laws.
    2. Be Smart Around Water – Pool parties are common on Fourth of July and it is important for everyone to stay safe when enjoying the water. Make sure children are well-supervised and that they know how to swim. Watch for diving into shallow water, excessive horseplay that can get out of hand, and running near pools. If you’re celebrating at the beach or by boating on a lake, make sure to follow all rules of safe boat operation (including avoidance of drunk boating), wear appropriate life vests when necessary, and now how to get help when it’s needed. Remember, victims of preventable drowning accidents and their families have rights when others fail to take appropriate steps to ensure safety.
    3. 3.BBQ Tips ­– If you plan on celebrating the Fourth by grilling, make sure to do so safely. Always be careful of handling propane and charcoal grills, never grill indoors, avoid wearing loose clothing and be careful when using lighter fluid to avoid preventable burn injuries. Keep children and flammable materials away from grills and never leave them unattended. Leading up to a barbecue, clean your grill and periodically remove grease so it can’t be ignited and pose risks of fires.
    4. Drink Responsibly – Alcohol is a staple for many on Fourth of July. If you plan on drinking, remember to do so responsibly and to designate a sober driver if you need to get home. Statistically, the Fourth of July weekend sees high rates of alcohol-related auto accidents. Because of this, authorities often increase their patrols and focus on DUI enforcement. Not only can drunk drivers be held criminally accountable for their actions, they can also be held financially liable for any injuries and damages suffered by victims.
    5. Driving & Roadway Safety – The Fourth of July is one of the country’s biggest holidays, which means that an increase in traffic can increase risks of car accidents. That’s due not only to drunk or impaired drivers, but also factors such as drowsy driving (for those making longer trips or vacations out of the holiday), more foot and bicycle traffic, increases in out-of-town or younger motorists, celebrations or events on and near roadways, and more. Do your part to stay safe by always obeying the rules of the road, and be sure to avoid distracted driving. On busy roads, distracted drivers are far more likely to crash than others. You can find more roadway safety tips for driving during the summer months and holidays on our blog.

    Our Washington, DC personal injury lawyers wish everyone a happy Independence Day. While we hope no one is injured, we are always available to help victims and families who do suffer preventable and unexpected injuries due to the negligence of others. If you have questions about your rights after a preventable accident or injury, contact us to speak with a member of our legal team during a free consultation. We serve residents throughout Maryland, Virginia, and the DC Metro area.

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  • Investigators Find Truck Driver in Woodrow Wilson Bridge Crash Had Previous Fatal Wreck on Record

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    Last week, we published a blog discussing a fatal tractor-trailer crash on Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The wreck – which occurred on Wednesday June 20, 2018 – involved a commercial truck which collided into a boom truck and other construction vehicles on the bridge while heading northbound on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway. It also resulted in the death of the truck driver and a number of injuries, as well as hours of severe gridlock on roads and highways throughout the DC Metro area. Now, investigators tasked with looking into the crash and what may have caused it have found that the truck driver involved had previously been implicated in another fatal crash over 20 years ago.

    As records show, the New Jersey truck driver who was fatally injured in last week’s collision had been involved in another fatal truck accident in 1992. Like last week’s tragic crash, that accident also occurred in a construction zone, though on the New Jersey Turnpike. Public records also indicate the driver has been arrested after the crash, and was later acquitted. The prosecutor in that case stated the driver had an epileptic seizure.

    Although regulators are still determining what exactly caused the driver to lose control when he struck the boom truck that was in a clearly marked construction zone on the shoulder of the Outer Loop, the latest findings can provide some direction in their investigation. That’s especially true given the serious safety risks associated with commercial drivers who have medical conditions that may make them more likely to be involved in serious collisions.

    As we have discussed in many of our blogs related to truck accidents, both commercial truck drivers and the commercial trucking operators that employ them must abide by numerous safety regulations. Many of these regulations focus on the health and fitness of truckers, as well as any medical conditions that may preclude them from being certified for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or would otherwise require careful and ongoing medical management so as to reduce risks to public safety.

    In addition to ensuring the fitness of truck drivers, commercial trucking operators also have legal obligations to ensure drivers do not pose unreasonable risks behind the wheel. Previous accidents, and especially wrecks resulting in injuries or fatalities, are significant red flags that should be carefully evaluated whenever companies hire or choose to retain commercial drivers.

    As the investigation into last week’s crash continues, our Washington, DC truck accident lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. know it will be vital to determine what the commercial trucking company involved in this wreck knew about the driver, his safety record, and any existing medical condition that might have played a role in causing him to lose control of the vehicle. Such findings will be critical to victims and families that look to establish fault and liability in any personal injury claims they may pursue.

    Given the serious nature of this crash and the potential for challenging issues involving trucking regulations and liability, our legal team is available to provide our support and insight to victims and families who would like more information about their right to justice and compensation. If you wish to speak with a member of our team during a free and confidential consultation, contact us today.

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