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Ex-NHLer Miller ordered to pay $1.6M for career-ending hit

Jun 7, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

KevinMiller Getty Images

Kevin Miller, a veteran of over 600 NHL contests, has been ordered by a U.S. judge to pay $1.6 million for a devastating hit he delivered while playing in Switzerland 14 years ago.

More, from CBC:

A federal judge in Michigan upheld a $1.6-million US judgment against former Detroit Red Wings forward Kevin Miller for a hit from behind during a 2000 Swiss league game that ended another player’s career.

U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist in Grand Rapids ruled in favour of a Swiss insurance company. The insurer had asked the court to recognize a Swiss court’s $1.1 million judgment, which increased to $1.6 million with interest and costs.

Quist said in Thursday’s ruling that his court was adhering to the Uniform Foreign-Country Judgments Recognition Act.

In November of 2012, a Swiss insurance company, Allianz Suisse Versicherungs-Gesellschaft, sought $1.6 million for the incident between Miller — then a member of HC Davos — and Andrew McKim, formerly of the Zurich Lions.

The skinny, from MLive.com:

The incident leading to the injury occurred during a championship game on Oct. 31, 2000, at Zurcher Hallenstadion. Court documents said Miller “jabbed (McKim) with the elbow on the rear upper side of the body.”

McKim hit his head on the ice.

“When the injured party was ‘checked’ from behind, the doctor contended that – as when a person is run over by a car – the injured party initially suffered a whiplash-type blow to the head from behind, and then a massive strike to the front side of the face on the ice,” a translated Swiss judgment said.

In an IIHF piece documenting the incident, the hit reportedly forced McKim to retire from hockey due to a traumatic brain injury and sprain of the cervical spine.

“Just after the collision, McKim’s cognitive skills were so shaky he could not recall if he even had children,” the article states.

The insurance company originally asked a federal judge to recognize a Swiss court ruling of $1.1 million against Miller (as mentioned above, the dollar figure was later adjusted to $1.6 million due to interest and costs). In turn, Miller filed a lawsuit against the Swiss insurance company that represented Davos, contending the insurer agreed to pay the judgement.

Following the hit on McKim, Miller went on to play two more seasons in Davos before returning to North America for the 2003-04 season. He signed with Detroit and played in 71 games with AHL Grand Rapids that year, making four appearances for the Red Wings.

Miller’s brothers, Kip and Kelly, also played in the NHL for a number of clubs. All three are cousins of Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller and Detroit forward Drew Miller.

  1. joey4id - Jun 7, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Ouch! Does this judgement send a message to the NHL to hand out lengthier suspensions on checks from behind & head shots?

    imnotyourbuddyguy,, please insert comment below. Thank you! ;-)

  2. missthemexpos - Jun 7, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    The message sent to all players in all leagues is respect, because who knows when you might be next.

  3. kaptaanamerica - Jun 7, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    This could impact on all pro sports that involve contact.

    • kaptaanamerica - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:02 PM

      The short version is that a foreign court’s judgment was recognized by a north american court. Now insurers in north America, who’ve paid out on injuries, will be emboldened to go after the person (s) who caused the injury in the first place, players, coaches, teams, league, etc…

      The long version is what muckle wrote below.

  4. muckleflugga - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    the issue is not the nhl system of discipline or length of suspensions it awards

    the issue is rather, the successful claim made before swiss courts by an insurer in effort to recover costs incurred while compensating a hockey player for losses suffered through injury by reckless or dangerous play delivered by another player

    the injured player suffered earnings loss

    the insurer compensated the injured player accordingly

    the insurer sought relief for its losses from the offending player through the courts

    of concern to hockey players anywhere is a court intervened in right of a league to administer itself by first hearing then finding in favour of an insurer

    of greater concern to players and the leagues they play in is a michigan court was adhering to the uniform foreign country judgments recognition act, placing the ruling into the realm of common law to which north american leagues are most susceptible

    looking at the dramatic increase in lost time injury claims as player health is subject to greater attention and care in the growing litigious climate, it’s only a matter of time before insurers start looking to recover losses from those causing losses

    the players themselves

    as indicated in the past, the only thing that will change the culture of violent play in hockey is when insurers, possessed of greater legal might than are the various leagues, start placing matters of loss before the courts as did the swiss insurer

    the issue will become infinitely more complicated as active players brought to the courts by insurers, counter sue, pointing fingers at employers and coaches encouraging violent play

  5. desertfan - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Ouch says Bertuzzi !!!!!!!

  6. muckleflugga - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    desertfan

    todd bertuzzi’s case is different because no losses were incurred by an insurer … if a common ground is found, it is found in the notion an offending player bears personal liability for his actions

    steve moore was subject to what was determined to be criminal assault, effectively excusing any insurer from financial liability unless the insurance carried by moore specified protection from criminal losses …

    but why would it, criminal assault is integral to professional hockey and is encouraged

    moore’s losses were only protected by the league itself for up to $200,000 in an offer made after the fact … if that offer was part of an insurance award package, the insurer would have had to make a cost benefit decision to determine if it was worthwhile chasing bertuzzi for its loss … the offer was declined by moore regardless

    while principles used by insurers in determining compensation will be used in common with any settlement with moore, insurance carried by the nhl, by the canucks or by bertuzzi will not play against losses incurred through criminal activity

    the nhl and the canucks and bertuzzi are already determined to be liable by fact, the only matter is the extent to which each are liable as held against moore’s effort to mitigate his own losses

  7. broadstreetbeatdown - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    This doesn’t bode well for Bertuzzi and the Canucks. Steve Moore, your ship is about to come in (rightfully so).

  8. muckleflugga - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    broadstreetbeatdown

    moore’s ship sank when he made no effort to mitigate his losses, this while understanding numbers argued as losses are so fictionalized as to be laughable

    the guy was a marginal player with no established earnings or performance history, all germane to establishing loss

    the case under discussion involves an insurance company recovering court ordered losses from a player, whereas moore is a player attempting to recover indeterminate losses from another player

    there’s little in the way of common ground under law

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Jun 8, 2014 at 12:16 AM

      Yeah you fail to take into account pain and suffering, decline in standard of life. Moore’s case is not just about loss of hockey related income. Please don’t try to play litigator on PHT. Your attempt is quite laughable.

    • johnsaqqara - Jun 8, 2014 at 1:20 AM

      Because the guy was “marginal”, it makes it somehow not as horrible to so drastically uproot that marginal player’s health?

  9. winbills - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    it figures………….a US judge would take the side of an insurance company over that of the side of an individual

    this judge should be impeached, this is a crazy ruling

    no forced the insurance company to offer a policy to McKim………and and miller did not premeditate hurting McKim…………..booo hooo insurance company pay up……

  10. johnsaqqara - Jun 8, 2014 at 1:14 AM

    It took 14 years for this issue to have courts who reside in two separate countries finally agree on the ruling? No wonder our species is starting to languish the world over. Professional athletes who’ve signed contracts for NAUSEATING amounts of money getting tagged with a million and a half dollar restitution payment shouldn’t have a problem in liquidation of funds. Like that article about dez and his $55,000 dinner tab? That dinner cost more than I was paid when deployed to Afghanistan in the wake of the tower and pentagon attacks. Hazard and combat bonuses and hardship deployment pay made it a bit over that 55 mark, but c’mon. The fact that miller may not have intended to have such a consequence, but that’s irrelevant. Smack a guy with a baseball bat and try justifying your violence of action by saying it wasn’t meant to be such a horrible blow. Ridiculous.

    • winbills - Jun 8, 2014 at 1:27 AM

      this is only about a insurance company trying to weasel outta paying

  11. mjw9326mjw9326 - Jun 8, 2014 at 7:19 AM

    Don’t all of these guys carry Insurance through a players association, just for something like this?

  12. wingsluver4ever - Jun 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    “Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller ” Hmmm…when did Buffalo trade back for him?

  13. muckleflugga - Jun 8, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    broadstreetbeatdown

    for the most part, pain and suffering is not quantifiable when assessing loss …

    ability to cope with pain and suffering is uniquely tied to perceptions of self, and is rarely acknowledged as loss outside of implicitly painful injuries such as burns or openly visible disfiguration

    by way of a generalization, eastern europeans tend to be resolute toward injury, fighting through pain as a matter of pride, whereas latino and spanish speaking countries tend toward debilitation tied to even nominal pain … the notion of machismo plays large

    insurance companies go to war over the issue of pain and suffering because losses have to be objectively measurable … pain and suffering is subjective and not quantifiable against a standard of pain that moves according to life and cultural experience of a would-be victim

    were pain and suffering reasonable as losses, every minor whiplash injury in vehicular collisions could be milked for losses far beyond completion of physical injury … that very issue makes ambulance chasers wealthy

    to you comment

    i am not a litigator, but have been extensively involved in arbitration injury loss claims … lawyers deliver their arguments to me for review … i am an acknowledged expert in workplace safety and design and have consulted extensively

    turnabout is fair play …

    i see your commentary in these pages and remain unimpressed … you present as buffoon with nothing more to offer than effort at attacking opinion … you know precious little about the game of hockey, let alone losses associated with either workplace injury or losses associated with criminal behaviour … change hands, date another girl tonight

    for johnsaqqara

    i do not disagree with much of your argument

    but feelings and perceptions do not play into measuring loss … as noted, loss must be objectively quantifiable to arrive at a dollar figure by way of compensation for lost earning power as it is in moore’s instance

    moore’s losses are measurable against his status as a player at the time of his injury, projected over his expected shelf life as a player while estimating growth as a player and earnings accordingly … there is ample player history available to compare moore’s expectations as a player, and i would expect those will be used

    moore was no nicklas lidstrom, yet looking at his loss claim you might assume he was

    importantly for moore, potential payout is reduced by reasonable effort to mitigate losses … measured in an amount representing what moore could reasonably be expected to earn with his hockey skill set as he rehabilitated to the point where his injury was determined to be complete

    moore will have to prove he could not return to hockey after his injury was in fact complete … keep in mind many severely injured players return to fruitful careers [ mark howe or manny malhotra ]

    again, there is ample material related to effort at mitigation available in comparison to moore’s, which by every indication is non-existant

    like it or not, courts deal with facts rather than emotion, feelings or speculation

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