The National Hockey League (NHL) offered up 26 possible defenses in response to a former player’s lawsuit in Minnesota federal court alleging the league hid effects of repeated concussions or head blows.
The possible defenses are in response to the player’s second amended complaint in a consolidated class action against the league, and means the NHL does not necessarily believe it will succeed on each of the 26 defenses but raised them to preserve them for later. Among the league’s defenses: players cannot pursue their claims as a class action, and the NHL’s marketing of the game is protected by the First Amendment.
“The NHL reserves the right to rely upon any of the following or additional defenses to claims asserted by plaintiffs to the extent that such defenses are supported by information developed through discovery or evidence at trial,” the league’s response stated. “By asserting the following affirmative defenses, the NHL does not allege or admit it has the burden of proof or the burden of persuasion with respect to any of these matters.”
The multidistrict litigation in Minnesota federal court involves former NHL players who claim that the league knew the health risks of concussions and repeated head blows but failed to warn players. The players’ amended case included the removal of two plaintiffs who dropped out of the lawsuit and the addition of the estate of a player who suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
The complaint alleges that players suffered harmful effects from repeated head blows at the hands of the NHL’s alleged negligence, fraudulent concealment, fraud by omission, and failure to warn of the “enhanced, long-term risk of contracting a neurodegenerative disease.”