Chalk up a win for former players in their battle with the NHL over hockey-related head trauma.
A motion filed by the league to dismiss the master complaint brought by the players was dismissed today in United States District Court in Minnesota.
In denying the NHL’s motion to dismiss, District Court Judge Susan Nelson found that “the plaintiffs have adequately alleged that the NHL negligently or fraudulently omitted information about the dangers and risks of repeated head trauma, the dangers of returning to play or practice hockey until proper evaluation and treatment has been administered, and the data that demonstrated the existence of such dangers and risks.”
Nelson’s full opinion can be found here.
“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,” the plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel, the law firms of Robbins Geller, Silverman Thompson, and Zimmerman Reed said in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly expressed disappointment with the decision late Wednesday evening.
"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 defense as the discovery process progresses," he told SI.com.
The league has another other motion for dismissal pending before Nelson, this one based on labor law pre-emption. There is no timetable set for that ruling.
The Master Complaint, filed by six former players including Bernie Nicholls (photo, above), Gary Leeman and Reed Larson on October 20, 2014, details the pathological and debilitating effects of brain injuries caused by concussive and sub-concussive impacts sustained by former NHL players during their professional careers. The plaintiffs allege the NHL actively and purposefully concealed these dangers.