Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

The Gloves Come Off in the NHL Concussion Class Action

The NHL concussion class action that is currently being fought out in the federal courts recently exposed more documents that make NHL officials look really bad. In the last round of the court battle, federal court judge Susan Richard Nelson declassified another set of documents that include some controversial facts.

One of the attorneys for the players recently explained to a reporter that the NHL has challenged nearly every single allegation, or potential point of contention. Among the most unbelievable is that there is no link between fighting, concussions, and CTE (the condition that has been credibly linked to repeated concussions and the subject of several other lawsuits).

Emails, a Treasure Trove of Smoking Guns

Included in the recently declassified documents are emails discussing the dangers of concussions authored by team doctors, as well as derogatory statements made by league officials against those seeking to put an end to fighting in hockey. The league commissioner was even quoted by one source as having stated that a referee, who was critical of fights between players on ice, "should understand it's not nice to bite the hand that feeds you," and later discussed withholding the referee's severance pay.

No Trial Date Yet

This case has been actively litigated since 2014, but there is still no trial date set. Although the court and plaintiffs are hoping for a trial date this year, the parties are still conducting discovery in the class certification phase. Although a class had previously been certified, it was decertified, and a new class certification hearing is scheduled for July 2017.

In a class action case, before the matter can move towards a trial, a court must determine whether a class action should be certified.

Essentially, at a class certification hearing, a judge evaluates whether the members of the class, and the case, have met the legal requirements to qualify the case as a class action. Because class action cases can have serious legal implications for inactive class members, courts carefully evaluate whether a class action should be allowed to seek relief for everyone who may have been affected by the alleged illegal conduct.

Related Resources: