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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.