Judge denies NHL attempt to dismiss concussion lawsuit

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Judge denies NHL attempt to dismiss concussion lawsuit
Judge denies NHL attempt to dismiss concussion lawsuit

The NHL’s attempt to remove a concussion lawsuit brought on by some of the league’s former players has been denied by a US district court in Minnesota.

According to ESPN.com’s Katie Strang, the NHL tried to get the case stopped, “by arguing both time-sensitivity and jurisdictional issues. The league also claimed the suit was not “‘adequately pled.’”

Said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in a statement sent to Puck Daddy:

"While we would have hoped for a different result on this motion, we understand that the case is at a relatively early stage, and there will be ample opportunity for us to establish our defenses as the discovery process progresses. "

Here is the reason for dismissal in its plain legal wording (s/t @travisyost for the entire decision document

The NHL seeks dismissal of Plaintiffs’ Master Complaint, or certain claims therein, on three grounds. First, the NHL argues that the Master Complaint must be dismissed as time-barred. Second, the NHL asserts that Plaintiffs’ fraud-based claims must be dismissed because they are not pled with particularity. Third, the NHL argues that Plaintiffs’ medical monitoring claim must be dismissed because none of the relevant jurisdictions, as determined by choice-of-law rules, recognizes medical monitoring as a stand-alone cause of action. The Court finds each of these arguments insufficient to warrant dismissal because: (1) it is not clear from the face of the Master Complaint that Plaintiffs’ claims are untimely; (2) Plaintiffs’ claims are adequately pled; and (3) it is not possible on the present record to determine which jurisdictions’ laws apply to Plaintiffs’ medical monitoring claim. 

Below is a statement on the ruling from the co-lead counsel for the Plaintiffs in the case, sent via email release:

“We are pleased the Court has confirmed the validity of our claims and found the NHL’s arguments insufficient to warrant dismissal of this case. It is time for the NHL to be held accountable for deliberately ignoring and concealing the risks of repeated head impacts, and finally provide security and care to retired players whom the League has depended on for its success.”

The lawsuit was put forth by the Plaintiffs, “Who allege that Defendant National Hockey League (the “NHL”) is responsible for “the pathological and debilitating effects of brain injuries caused by concussive and sub-concussive impacts sustained . . . during their professional careers.”

Plaintiffs listed are former players Dan LaCouture, Michael Peluso, Gary Leeman, Bernie Nicholls, David Christian, and Reed Larson.

There is another legal lever the league can use again per ESPN.com, which has yet to be ruled on:

“(U.S. District Judge Susan Richard) Nelson has yet to issue a ruling on the league's other motion for dismissal, which is based on labor law pre-emption.”

So as of now, it moves forward, the one final attempt for the league to get the suit thrown out doesn’t go. There are differences between this suit and the one with the NFL as we pointed out in a prior blog.

How do you identify known risks in the sport, vs. financial reward in the league vs. specific National Hockey League culpability vs. hockey culture. It’s all rather tough to sift through. The NFL’s has a well-documented timeline and specific issues regarding the league itself. 

Either way, this will all be played out still, and is a constantly evolving measure and question in various league meetings.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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