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NHL on concussion lawsuit: League is ‘completely satisfied’ with safety procedures

Nov 25, 2013, 7:05 PM EDT

billdalygetty Getty Images

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a league statement in reaction to the class-action lawsuit regarding concussions on Monday:

“We are aware of the class action lawsuit filed today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of a group of former NHL Players. While the subject matter is very serious, we are completely satisfied with the responsible manner in which the League and the Players’ Association have managed Player safety over time, including with respect to head injuries and concussions. We intend to defend the case vigorously and have no further comment at this time.”

No doubt, this should be an interesting situation to follow. Stay tuned for more as this develops, whether that be later today or in the coming days, weeks, months or even years.

For a PDF of the complaint, click here.

  1. joey4id - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    What else can he say? It’s in the hands of the law, and will more than likely never make it to trial, but it will lead to more changes. Maybe the players need more latitude to police the game more. Right! Mr. Burke!

  2. 67nova - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    The pdf link goes to PFT’s article on the lawsuit settlement. Can you fix that?

  3. muckleflugga - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    hazard and acceptable risk in hockey?

    firstly, workers’ compensation

    we know players in the nhl sign contracts and are effectively employees of the nhl and its team owners. protection of employees in any endeavour began with workers’ compensation statutes evolving in the early twentieth century following industrialization of the modern world

    at the soul of workers’ compensation was need to remove forum for litigation in cases involving lost-time injury and residual disability; by worker against employer or by employer against worker with the latter designed to starve aggrieved employees into submission

    workers’ compensation effectively created a system of no-fault insurance; injured workers are compensated for lost time and residual disability, and employers are immune from compensatory or punitive damages attributable to conditions inciting injury and losses

    occupational health and safety

    it took another half century or so before law makers brought forth definitive legislation compelling employers to create healthy and safe workplaces. occupational health and safety acts not only define the safe workplace, they outline a framework upon which courts can punish offending workers and employers

    knowledge and education

    with occupational health and safety came research proving where workplace hazard and risk exist, all supported by highly educated study and presentation of empirical data

    occupational health and safety legislation is specific in compelling employers to educate themselves regarding its workplace hazards, then design its workplace to safely accommodate risk presented by those hazards

    onerous burden is placed on employers to properly inform its employees of workplace hazards and attendant risk to health and safety…

    importantly, workers have an absolute right to know, and they have a right to refuse dangerous work of which they’ve become aware

    still, properly armed with knowledge and appropriate personal protective equipment, the employee is duty-bound to perform work in a safe manner

    discipline

    equally great is the burden placed on employers to discipline employees not working safely in the face of being informed of workplace hazard and risk while being provided appropriate training and safety equipment

    when long-term debilitating injury or death occur in a workplace, the employer must demonstrate it was itself aware of workplace hazard and risk while educating its employees accordingly while providing appropriate safety equipment

    the employer must be able to prove it disciplined offending employees with penalty graded to degree of offence and repetition if it occurred; this to prove its safety program was and is effective

    common sense and risk

    science notwithstanding, there has always been the notion of common sense that muddies the waters. we know common sense is founded on experience and practical education, permitting workers including steel riggers to work safely at height without appropriate fall protection for instance

    the rub

    how can nhl players argue in the present, they were not informed of hazard and risk in hockey if they’ve been exposed to both from adolescence onward, primarily through advocacy of their own caregivers…the very idea is absurd. the act of climbing into pads and strapping-on helmets in and of itself implies knowledge of hazard and risk associated with the game of hockey

    but hazard and risk are measured against normal behaviour reasonably expected in execution of a job or role in the workplace…

    i doubt any parent dreamed of seeing their kids being encouraged to deliver blind-side hits, back-running hits, punishing cross-checks, bone-shattering slashes and seemingly endless head-shots…

    i doubt any parent dreamed of seeing their kids participating in sports deemed policeable by fighting, itself loosely regulated in some variable code of conduct nurtured and encouraged by the league policies tacitly approving vigilantism

    liability

    where does liability for concussions and their residual effects as experienced by nhl players fall? no one is going to argue concussive forces are part and parcel with the game of hockey…hazard accepted as risk in trade-off for fame and money as it were

    what will be vigorously argued:

    are concussions a hazard solely the responsibility of the nhl, while understanding most players have been playing from the age of four or five

    does the nhl and its teams have a systemized system to establish benchmarks of player brain health before they play in the nhl, and in so doing provide a means for quantifying nhl liability if any in fact exists

    where threshold values of acceptable risk of concussion occurs, who sets those values, and what is the quality of information used in their formulation

    how is information regarding concussion hazard and risk as it evolves in nhl grade hockey conveyed to players, particularly as it relates to their current state of health

    how does the nhl regulate control of concussion hazard; through education; use of proper equipment in the field of play; and effective means of discipline [ reserve hysterics for later ]

    how does the nhl and its teams treat head injuries; in-game, after the game, and in anticipation of return to play

    how does the nhl and its teams make a brain injured player whole, through ongoing care and monetary support commensurate with normal career and post-career expectations

    importantly, do nhl players informed of concussion hazard and risk, have a right to refuse dangerous work…the crux of argument for both sides will fall on this point [ hysterics permitted ]

    all of the above play while understanding the nhl advocates for fighting as a means to regulate the game in absence of its ability to enforce its own rules

    and the nhl system of discipline for concussive head-shots is so ineffective and weak-kneed, the behaviour and its consequence continue unabated night-in and night-out, and always has

    settlement

    as in the case with all professional sports, the nhl and its teams are not by definition employers covered under workers’ compensation acts, themselves under state or provincial control

    yet, settlement will likely follow the model offered by principles of workers’ compensation:

    to avoid massive punitive and compensatory damage awards to individual players incited to fight or bludgeon fellow players with violent and deliberate contact, the nhl will compensate damaged players with monies commensurate with earnings and pension benefits as if they had continued in fruitful careers appropriate to their expected shelf-lives as healthy players through natural retirement

    the plan will be implemented through the foreseeable future as either the damaged players decrease through effective management of the problem, or the twelfth of never, and that’s a long long time…

    fans of the game will of course, inherit these costs in ticket and endorsement price structures

    • hockeyflow33 - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:46 PM

      No one read this and if they did they should sue you for loss of time.

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