04/15 21:59 CDT More former players sue NHL regarding concussions
More former players sue NHL regarding concussions
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) --- Another group of former NHL players has joined the fight
for compensation for head injuries they say they incurred while playing, while
at the same time targeting the violence of the game that they believe brought
about those injuries.
Retired players Dave Christian, Reed Larson and William Bennett filed a class
action lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday alleging that the league has
promoted fighting and downplayed the risk of head injuries that come from it.
"I think the glorified violence is really the Achilles heel for the NHL," said
Charles "Bucky" Zimmerman, an attorney at Zimmerman Reed that filed the lawsuit
on behalf of the players. "If anything comes of this, the focus on the
glorified violence and perhaps the change to that will be a good thing."
The lawsuit, which is similar to one brought by former football players against
the NFL, joins others filed by hockey players in Washington and New York and
seeks monetary damages and increased medical monitoring.
"As we have indicated earlier, another lawsuit of this type is not unexpected,"
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an email to The Associated Press.
"It's the nature of these types of cases that once one is filed, a number of
similarly styled cases follow. Nothing changes our belief that all of these
cases are without merit and they will be defended accordingly."
The NHLPA declined to comment.
Zimmerman also worked on the football litigation, which resulted in the NFL
agreeing to pay a $765 million settlement to thousands of former players. That
settlement is still awaiting a judge's approval, but the headlines it generated
have been partially responsible for hockey players mounting their own case
against the NHL.
"We've seen it in football. It's now here in hockey. It's of the same genesis,"
Zimmerman said. "There's knowledge, we believe, that these type of concussive
injuries were known and protections were not put in place appropriately enough
and fast enough and rules changes were not implemented even today in fighting.
"Players continue to be at risk and suffer as a result of those risks that they
take on behalf of the sport. We think those are unreasonable and they should be
changed and the players should be compensated."
The lawsuit alleges "the NHL hid or minimized concussion risks from its
players, thereby putting them at a substantially higher risk for developing
memory loss, depression, cognitive difficulties, and even brain related
diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease."
One argument that tries to separate the NFL litigation from the NHL case is
that by engaging in fighting, players willfully take on the health risks that
could come from that.
"You could make that argument only to a point," Zimmerman said. "And the point
is that the fighting arena would not exist and would be outlawed as it is in
every other level of the game had the NHL not condoned it and sold tickets
based upon it and promoted the sport in that way. It's not the players that
promote the sport in that way because the players don't implement the rules.
It's the league that implements the rules. If they would outlaw fighting, there
wouldn't be people who would fight."
Zimmerman said he thinks more players will join the litigation much in the same
way the group of plaintiffs in the NFL case exponentially grew as it progressed.
"The light went on for them as the football players' story was becoming more
told," Zimmerman said. "I think the hockey players started to see that their
story was going to be heard and told. It's not that we haven't known about
football players or hockey players getting hurt. It's now become more important
that we talk about it and do something about it rather than just benignly let
it continue into the future."
AP Hockey Writer Larry Lage contributed to this report.