July 13, 2018 07:02 PM
Former players suing the National Hockey League for promoting fighting and violence while downplaying the risks of concussions and repeated head hits suffered a significant setback in federal court Friday in St. Paul.
Judge Susan Nelson denied the players' motion to have the lawsuit certified as a class action, which would have allowed all retired NHL players to join the case.
More than 150 players - including more than a dozen from Minnesota - are seeking medical monitoring for long-term brain diseases such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). They claim those diseases are directly linked to the repeated head hits, collisions and punches they sustained during their playing careers.
The ruling means the players will now have to challenge the league on a case-by-case basis.
In her 45-page ruling, Nelson wrote, "The Court is sympathetic to the significant cost and the likelihood of duplicative proof in trying this case many times, for each individual player."
She added, "....resolving these claims in a single class action would present significant case management difficulties."
Minneapolis-based attorneys representing the players declined comment on Friday's ruling. The players first filed the lawsuit five years ago, and had anxiously been awaiting a ruling on their motion to form a class action for several months.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS detailed the players' legal battle last year in a special series called "Fighting Back."
A review of thousands of court records, league memos and internal emails found NHL executives had privately worried about the consequences of fighting and repeated head hits for decades.
However, those executives have consistently denied the players' claims in public and in court, while maintaining it is too early to definitively link long-term health effects like CTE to hockey.
An NHL spokesperson did not return messages seeking comment.
Updated: July 13, 2018 07:02 PM
Created: July 13, 2018 01:05 PM
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