Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

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Like the NFL before it, the NHL has settled ongoing litigation regarding concussions suffered by former players. But unlike the NFL, the NHL did it for a pittance. The NFL's settlement committed the league to spending almost $1 billion in total damages, medical reimbursements, and future medical and psychological care. The NHL looks to be on the hook for about two percent of that -- around $19 million.

"The NHL does not acknowledge any liability for the Plaintiffs' claims in these cases," the league's statement announcing the settlement read. "However, the parties agree that the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution and that it is in the parties' respective best interests to receive the benefits of the settlement and to avoid the burden, risk and expense of further litigation."

So, why the discrepancy?

Derek Boogaard spent six seasons as an enforcer in the National Hockey League, earning nicknames like "Boogeyman" and "The Mountie," and being voted the second most intimidating player in the league. Those fights took their toll. After Boogaard died of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose in 2011, tests of his brain showed advanced chronic traumatic encephalopathy although he was only 28 years old.

Boogaard's parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL, claiming that the league was negligent in exposing their son to frequent head trauma and failing to offer him adequate care. The suit was dismissed by a federal judge last summer, and an appeals court affirmed the dismissal, presumably ending the litigation.

How Will the New Tax Law Affect Sports Teams?

Your favorite hometown sports team may be planning more than just its next game plan or roster move. Tax reform is here, and everyone from the local sports bar to the hot dog vendor might be doing the math to figure out how it affects their bottom line. 

The new tax law changes will impact everything from college athletics to corporate ticket purchases and sports financing. So what's the inside story?

An NHL official who was working as a lineman during a regular season game between the Calgary Flames and the Nashville Predators is suing a player after sustaining severe on-ice injuries during the game. The ref is seeking $250,000 in damages related to his injuries, plus another $10 million for loss of current and future income. The incident occurred over a year ago now, and was captured on camera.

The video does not paint a sympathetic picture for the player being sued. Dennis Wideman is seen on the video slowly skating up ice, then lifting up his stick and arms, and cross checking the lineman in the back. The ref fell down hard, face first. Wideman was initially suspended for 20 games, but after a review, the suspension was reduced to only 10 games after it was determined to not be an intentional assault by the league's examiner.

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).

The case of Mike Peluso, the former NHL player on the infamous New Jersey Devils "Crash Line" filed a workers' compensation claim in California in 2012. The claim is a result of the repeated concussions he sustained while being one of the team's most prolific enforcers. Recently, it has come to light that Devils' administration withheld crucial medical documents and information from Peluso, both while he was an active member of the team and as part of his workers comp claim.

Peluso, who is only 50 years old, now suffers from dementia, as well as a condition that causes him to have seizures, and numerous other symptoms relating to memory and brain function. His doctors assert that the condition was caused by the repeated concussions, and that he should have been warned about the extreme danger of continuing to experience head traumas.

Taking a client out for dinner or grabbing a meal while on a business trip is one thing. Feeding an entire team of ravenous hockey players is quite another.

The IRS treats both the same way when it comes to tax deductions, and now the Boston Bruins owner is pushing back. The team is suing the federal government's tax agency for the right to deduct the full amount of team meals while on the road.

Fans have long-complained about sports leagues' TV blackout rules, which restrict certain games from certain broadcasters. But one group of fans who decided to sue Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League over their use of blackouts got a huge boost last week.

U.S. District Court judge Shira Scheindlin granted the plaintiffs' motion to certify class-action status, finding that all consumers in the market for MLB and NHL content have the same alleged injury and can therefore sue as a group.

Here's what that could mean for fans down the road.

After Swedish prosecutors watched video of former Toronto Maple Leafs player Andre Deveaux viciously slash an opponent in pregame warm ups, they decided to file criminal charges and issued a warrant for his arrest. Which, for hockey fans, may have brought to mind an infamous incident in 2000 when Marty McSorley bashed Donald Brashear in the head with his stick (2:50 into the video), giving him a grade 3 concussion.

McSorley was charged with and found guilty of assault, only the second criminal trial for on-ice violence in a league that tacitly approves of players taking breaks from game play to punch each other in the face from time to time. Punching which, to date, has resulted in zero criminal convictions.

So when does playing a sport constitute a crime? And what kind of game behavior crosses the line from acceptable in a sporting contest to unacceptable in any context?

Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson Files for Bankruptcy: 3 Lessons

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson has earned more than $18 million over his nine-year NHL hockey career. But according to bankruptcy documents filed last month in federal court, it's almost all gone.

Not only is Jack Johnson broke, but Johnson has outstanding debts of as much as $15 million, reports The Columbus Dispatch. And while the story of a professional athlete squandering large sums of money is nothing new, Johnson's path to bankruptcy has an especially cruel twist. Many of the financial decisions that led him to this point were made by his parents, to whom he had given full control of his finances.

What can be learned from Jack Johnson's bankruptcy? Here are three lessons: