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3 Lessons From the NHL CTE Lawsuit Depositions

You know that saying about how employees and corporate officers should email as if what they write will one day be read in a deposition? Well, there's a close corollary: In a deposition, speak like what you say will be made public eventually.

This may prove true for some officials deposed in the NHL CTE/concussion class action that is playing out in the Minnesota federal court. That case has been making headlines due to some damning video from some key depositions being made public. One such deposition makes it clear, math isn't one of the strong suits for former Toronto Maple Leafs' GM Lou Lamoriello.

Lesson No. 1: Aren't Depos the Best?

Enjoy the following excerpt, courtesy of TSN Hockey, which just proves that depositions are the best:

Lawyer: "Assuming that Mr. Peluso did get into a fight with Kenny Baumgartner on, uh, four days after suffering a concussion, do you think that was safe for him to do so?"

Lamoriello: "uh, I could not make that judgment. First of all, fights in the national hockey league are not boxing fights ..."

Lawyer: "Right? They don't have gloves, right? Like boxers?"

Lamoriello: "90% of the fights in the national hockey league, no one even lands a punch ... 90% of the fights are almost wrestling matches."

Lawyer: "Where's that statistic from?"

Lamoriello: "I have no statistic. I'm giving you, I'm giving you my appearance over the years. You've watched hockey in Buffalo ..."

Lesson No. 2: Come On Lou! Credibility Matters

When coaching (or let's just perhaps stay away from sports metaphors here) preparing clients and witnesses for their depositions, it's often a good idea to tell them to keep statistics they pull out of nowhere out of their mouths.

Sure, a deposing attorney may be entitled to a deponent's "best estimate," but offering up unverifiable percentages without being asked for any is just, frankly, jaw-droppingly bad for the witness's credibility.

Lesson No. 3: Only Answer the Question Asked, Lou!

Fortunately, Lamoriello immediately comes clean, which could repair some of the damage done, but sharper lawyers will notice the bigger problem: He just kept on talking after giving a good response.

Lamoriello did actually give a fantastic response to the question: "I could not make that judgment." That statement alone is about as strong, and good, as a response as "I don't recall." But then, Lamoriello did what most deponents who haven't been properly prepped do, he just kept talking, offering up information that wasn't even asked for.

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