Former NHL Players File Class Action Lawsuit Say Attorneys Steven D. Silverman and Mel Owens

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The class action complaint specifically claims that the NHL consistently ignores or is reluctant to recognize longstanding medical knowledge on concussions and lags behind introducing protections for players implemented by other hockey leagues around the world.

Steven D. Silverman, Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White

These ex-NHL players are living in a very private, very dark world said Mel Owens, a disability attorney with Namanny, Byrne & Owens, former first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams and 10-year veteran of the National Football League

The law firms of Silverman|Thompson|Slutkin|White in Baltimore, Maryland and Namanny, Byrne & Owens of Laguna Hills, California have filed a class action lawsuit, Leeman, et al. v. National Hockey League, et al., Case No: 13-CV-1856, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, against the National Hockey League (NHL). The plaintiffs, former NHL players, allege that the NHL has been fraudulent and negligent in its failure to respond effectively to decades of head injuries to its players, the suit alleges. The sanctioned bare-knuckle fighting, elbows to the head, and vicious checks against the glass add up to take a brutal toll on a man’s brain, according to plaintiffs in the suit.

The class action complaint specifically claims that the NHL consistently ignores or is reluctant to recognize longstanding medical knowledge on concussions and lags behind introducing protections for players implemented by other hockey leagues around the world.

“NHL rule changes in 2004 made the game faster, more exciting, and more marketable but led to increasingly violent collisions between players resulting in an unprecedented number of severe head injuries” said Steven D. Silverman, Managing Partner of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White. “The NHL still refuses to bar bareknuckle fighting or body-checking in spite of overwhelming evidence that both practices result in debilitating head injuries. Instead, the NHL prefers to continue employing and glorifying ‘enforcers’ – players whose primary role is to fight and violently body-check opposing players.”

Silverman, a nationally-renowned litigator representing the former NHL players in the lawsuit, adds “The reluctance of the NHL to do anything but pay lip service in response to this decades-long problem is shocking. The NHL has only reluctantly and recently amended a few rules that have been ineffective in reducing concussions. That is why a supermajority of delegates at the recent meeting of the Canadian Medical Association in Calgary voted to condemn the complacency of the NHL in regards to violence in hockey.”

Mel Owens, a disability attorney with Namanny, Byrne & Owens, former first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams and 10-year veteran of the National Football League, says “I have been dealing with quality-of-life issues for former professional athletes for more than 20 years. The damages sustained by professional hockey players are tragic and are some of the worst injuries suffered by professional athletes. These ex-NHL players are living in a very private, very dark world.”

Rick Vaive, one of named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who played in the NHL from 1979 to 1992 says, “we were kept in the dark about the risks of concussions and many of the former NHL players are now suffering from debilitating head injuries from their time in the league. Hopefully this lawsuit will shine a light on the problem and the players will get the help they deserve.”

For decades the NHL has profited from encouraging and marketing a culture of violence at the cost of the long-term health of its players. This lawsuit seeks treatment and compensation for those intentional decisions.

For further information on this lawsuit, contact Steve Silverman at ssilverman(at)mdattorney(dot)com 410-385-2226, or Mel Owens at mowens(at)nbolaw(dot)com 949-452-0700.

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