Last week, a group of former hockey players filed suit in New York federal court against the National Hockey League (NHL), alleging the organization failed to warn players about the “devastating” risks and “negative health consequences” associated with concussions. This is the second concussion-related class action filed against the NHL, with the first brought last November in federal court in D.C. 

In this most recent class action, former players allege that the league “fostered a culture of violence” without safeguarding the health and well-being of its players, particularly with respect to head trauma. The plaintiffs also are claiming that the NHL neglected to implement policies and procedures to protect players already suffering head trauma, and that current players continue to be at risk. The putative class is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an order compelling the NHL to provide “medical monitoring” to all current and former players. 

This suit comes at a time when other professional sports leagues face increasing scrutiny and, in some cases litigation, for their alleged handling of head injuries in players. Just last month, the plaintiffs in a concussion suit against the National Football League (NFL) agreed to stay proceedings in California federal court pending the NFL’s attempt to transfer the case to multidistrict litigation in Pennsylvania for consolidated pretrial proceedings. In that suit, former players allege that the NFL and helmet manufacturer, Riddell, Inc. failed to warn players about the long-term health risks from concussions. Although a settlement was reached between former players and the NFL, a Pennsylvania federal judge overseeing the MDL declined to grant preliminary approval of the settlement agreement, writing that she held concerns that there would not be enough money to properly compensate all class members. 

For more information on the putative class action with the NHL, please see LaCouture et al. v. National Hockey League, case number 1:14-cv-02531, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.