This week HWTP Sports Talk was joined by Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore and attorney Stuart Davidson to discuss the NHL concussion lawsuit worth nearly $19 million. This case is similar to multiple cases brought against the NFL, which resulted in larger sums awarded to injured parties. Adam Kilgore states that it may be, “the high profile of former players [in the NFL] who were showing symptoms at an older age or even doing things like committing suicide,” that may have caused the case against the NFL to have more media attention than the lawsuit brought against the NHL. Kilgore explains that in the cases similar to the concussion case against the NFL, the league, “tries to mitigate or eliminate any PR headaches, so they settled right away.” In the case against the NHL, “the commissioner decided that the league was going to meet the players head on.”
This case has not garnered as much media or fan attention. Kilgore claims that fans don’t care about [the case against the NHL regarding CTE and concussions in players] as much as they cared about the same issues in the NFL.” Due to the new emphasis on the negative effects of concussions on players health and well-being, Kilgore explains that, “there’s a new concussion protocol in the NHL, there are cases where the league has pulled players off the ice…[and] the case [against the NHL] has raised awareness among the fan base about the dangers of brain trauma in hockey.” In regard to the effect of this lawsuit on the popularity of hockey or the NHL, Kilgore claims that the case "will not affect viewership or advertising [of the game]...since hockey is so embedded in Canadian culture. It will take a lot more than a lawsuit…to distance hockey from the country's culture."
Stuart Davidson is a partner at Robbins Geller Rudman and Dowd LLP in Boca Raton and represented a few of the former players in the lawsuit against the NHL regarding concussions and CTE. Davidson’s firm filed in 2014 and was appointed co-lead council to represent the players and has been involved ever since. Stuart Davidson explains that in the beginning of the lawsuit, “Canadian media and television stations had nothing good to say about it,” but eventually those media outlets realized that the NHL was doing harm to players due to their policies regarding head trauma.
While initially filed as a class action lawsuit, Davidson explains that, “the judge found that since these were personal injury claims that were individual to each player, and each player lived in a different state or province of Canada, one set of laws could not be used for all of the cases, keeping this case from being litigated as a class action lawsuit.” In the NHL concussion case, Davidson explains that, “[the NHL] let [the plaintiff lawyers] into their books, they let [the lawyers] into their email communications…and made [the plaintiff lawyers] prove to [the] judge…that [the plaintiffs] could not meet the requirements of the class action suit.”
When discussing the personalities and attitudes of those in power in the NHL that he encountered, Stuart Davidson told HWTP Sports Talk, "I couldn't understand why it was so hard for these businessmen to have empathy for the players that they made money off of.” Davidson explains that the principle thing that was being fought for was testing and treatment for his clients that were suffering. He further explained that his clients “were able to get neuropsychological testing to see if they had a problem neurocognitively.”