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Plaintiffs' Counsel in the consolidated multi-district litigation In Re: National Hockey League Players' Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL, 14‑2551 SJN, and the National Hockey League announced [Wednesday] that they have reached a tentative non-class settlement of the Litigation.
This tentative settlement was reached after months of Court-ordered mediation overseen by the Honorable Jeffrey J. Keyes (ret.).
The NHL does not acknowledge any liability for any of Plaintiffs' claims in these cases. 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.
* New York Times: In NHL Concussion Settlement, Owners Win The Fight.
"[F]ew on the plaintiff side will be happy with a deal that provides little long-term security for retired players who are suffering.
The NHL's philosophy was scorched earth and deny every issue," said Charles Zimmerman, the lead lawyer for the retired hockey players. "They denied the link between neurocognitive problems and the game of hockey, and felt that the players were not injured and wouldn't participate in large numbers. They were right on that."
"In July, a U.S. District Judge denied the former players' attempt to make this suit a class-action lawsuit, which could have vastly expanded the number of players involved. The 146 who are a part of this suit must choose to opt into the settlement within 75 days, and in doing so they'll waive their right to future concussion-related legal action against the NHL.
"The settlement - which just happened to be announced the same day as the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony - is for a far, far lower amount than a concussion settlement from a similar lawsuit that the NFL reached with its former players last year. While that settlement has some serious problems of its own, the $1 billion it was said to be worth is almost infinitely more than what the NHL players are getting, which can be attributed to the NFL's fear that their ex-players would be certified as a class and the NHL's ex-players getting denied that status."
"The max a former NFL player is entitled to is $5 million and that settlement covered more than 20,000 players with an estimated cost to the league in excess of $1 billion. The NHL settlement includes only 318 players who will get up to $22,000 - roughly 3% of the minimum salary for a current NHL player - and each is entitled to medical testing and treatment of up to $75,000 each.
"Only 146 former players put their names to this litigation, a list that included Steve Montador, a former Chicago Blackhawks player diagnosed with the debilitating brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after his death in 2015."
* Toronto Star: NHL's Tentative Concussion Lawsuit Another Blow To The Players.
"Not everyone involved was moving on quietly. While lawyers representing the players characterized the settlement as 'good news' in a memo that recommended its acceptance, former NHLer [and former Blackhawk] Daniel Carcillo, called it 'an insulting attempt at a settlement.' Via Twitter Carcillo urged fellow alumni not to take the deal. Mike Peluso, the former NHL enforcer, told TSN's Rick Westhead that he plans to forego the settlement in favour of pursuing further legal action.
"Chris Nowinski, a spokesperson for Boston University's CTE Center, said he was 'surprised' by the 'small amount' of the proposed settlement.
"What this tells you is that it's athlete beware," Nowinski said. "The message from professional sports is: You're on your own. Once you've left the team, it doesn't matter if you're a legend, once things go south for you, you and your family are on your own."
"What the settlement also told us was this: The real winners are the lawyers. Of the $19 million the NHL has agreed to pay, more than a third of it - some $7 million - is earmarked for legal fees and costs."
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