The federal judge overseeing the NHL concussion case has denied class-action status for the former players suing the league over head injuries.
US District Judge Susan Richard Nelson on Friday issued her 46-page order, the first significant victory for the league in a landmark lawsuit filed almost five years ago.
Nelson wrote that “widespread differences” in state laws about medical monitoring, which the retired players are seeking, would “present significant case management difficulties.”
The judge declined to certify either of the proposed classes by the ex-players. They sought to create one group of all living, former NHL players and one group of all retired players diagnosed with a neurological disease, disorder or condition.
Had they succeeded, more than 5,000 former players would have been allowed to join the case.
The last hearing on the class-action status was held in March in Nelson’s courtroom in St Paul.
More than 100 former players have added their names to the case. The retirees have accused the NHL of failing to better prevent head trauma, or warn players of such risks, while promoting violent play that led to their injuries.
“The judge’s ruling was procedural,” said Charles Zimmerman, an attorney for the players. “The hundreds of players are prepared to try their cases individually.”
It was too soon to know if there would be an appeal, Zimmerman said.
Nelson previously issued two significant rulings against the league. She in 2015 denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the sufficiency of the allegations. In 2016, she rejected a motion to dismiss the case for labor law pre-emption, on the argument that the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and its players supersedes the court.
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