The National Hockey League (NHL) wants the Minnesota federal court overseeing the multidistrict litigation (MDL) over claims that the league did not protect its players from concussions to step up and make a ruling on its year-old motion to dismiss claims from a group of retired players. The NHL is arguing the retired players’ claims should follow in step with a similar case that was recently dismissed.
The NHL argued that the retired players were trying to stall the court’s decision, and that the court should reject the players’ argument just as an Illinois federal court did in the case of deceased NHL player Derek Boogaard. His family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL claiming his 2011 death from a drug overdose was the result of an opioid addiction he developed to quell the pain from injuries he sustained while playing, as well as from a chronic degenerative brain disease, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), linked to repeated head blows.
In that case, the NHL successfully argued that the claims were preempted by the federal Labor Management Relations Act, and that in order to determine if the NHL owed anything to Boogaard, the court would have to first interpret a 2005 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NHL and its players.
The Plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation argued that Boogaard’s case was not similar to their claims since Boogaard was bound by the CBA since he had been an active player at the time of his death. Retired players, the Plaintiffs argued, are not governed by that CBA.