It's been nearly 12 months since a collection of 10 former pro hockey players became the first of several groups to file a concussion-related lawsuit against the National Hockey League. On Monday a new legal step will be taken.
A consolidated complaint – which will regroup a raft of actions involving hundreds of former players in Canada and the U.S. – will formally be filed in a St. Paul, Minnesota federal court on Oct. 20, California-based attorney Mel Owens,who was involved in the original suit, said Thursday.
It's not clear when the parties can expect to convene before U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who was mandated by a special panel this past summer to hear a trio of NHL-related cases involving about 200 former players, although it's clear the legal odyssey is still in its early stages.
Since the initial action was filed last November, the NHL has steadfastly maintained that the suits are without merit and that they will be vigorously defended.
The hockey class actions are broadly patterned on similar proceedings involving retired National Football League players; the various suits in that instance were also consolidated into a single case (Judge Nelson has previously presided on proceedings involving the NFL, but did not hear that case).
In 2013 the league reached an out-of-court settlement to pay out roughly $980-million (Cdn) to the plaintiffs.
The deal hasn't been universally popular among former players. Though it was approved by a federal judge this past summer there is considerable legal wrangling ahead, not least because of a recent spate of complaints objecting to its terms.
Earlier this week, the family of late Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson – whose brain was found to have signs of the degenerative brain condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (or CTE) – filed a legal brief contesting several of the settlement's provisions.