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The National Hockey League on Monday announced a tentative $18.9 million settlement with 318 retired players who sued the league, accusing it of failing to protect them from head injuries or warning them of the risks involved with playing.
The settlement, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis, “claimed that when playing professional ice hockey while employed by one or more Member Clubs of the NHL, (players) were subjected to head trauma and/or injuries and/or brain trauma and/or injuries and that, individually and/or cumulatively, the head trauma and/or injuries and/or brain trauma and/or injuries have caused, will cause, or may cause a variety of neurodegenerative, cognitive, emotional, and/or mental health conditions and related symptoms, conditions, syndromes, and/or diseases.”
The original suit, filed in 2013, also alleged the NHL kept secret the risks of playing. In May, a federal judge rejected a motion for class-action status.
The settlement includes up to $75,000 for medical treatment and a potential cash payment of about $23,000 a player. It also includes the promise of a “Common Good Fund” to help other players with head injuries.
The settlement still needs the approval of all 318 plaintiffs named in the suit.
The NHL released a statement Monday saying it “does not acknowledge any liability for any of the Plaintiffs’ claims in these cases. However, the parties agree that the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution and that it is in the parties’ respective best interests to receive the benefits of the settlement and to avoid the burden, risk and expense of further litigation.”
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Charles Zimmerman, of Zimmerman Reed LLP in Minneapolis, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
"I think it's a very appropriate result and a good outcome in a very contested, hotly litigated matter," Mr. Zimmerman told the Associated Press. "The main goal in the case was to get medical testing and treatment for the players, something that the NHL wouldn't agree to for the four years that we'd been litigating and that's what we achieved."
A federal judge in Chicago on Monday dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against the National Hockey League.