By Joseph M. Hanna, of Goldberg Segalla
In a Minnesota federal court on Monday, February 29, 2016, the National Hockey League filed a motion to compel the medical examinations of some of the former players in the concussion MDL suit currently sitting against the league. The NHL argues that in cases of this nature, i.e., those where a plaintiff makes a claim about his current and future mental and physical health, it is routine procedure for said plaintiff to undergo an independent examination. The league’s memo in support argues there exists good cause for a confirmation that the specific injuries plaintiffs claim they suffer from, such as neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, actually are present and were related to their hockey careers.
Specifically, the NHL is seeking the medical examinations of five of the named plaintiffs in the concussion suit, including former Buffalo Sabre Stephen Ludzik. Ludzik has filed for permission to represent a proposed class of ex-players who suffer from CTE and other brain diseases caused from repetitive head trauma while playing hockey.
The examinations the league is calling for may seem fairly grueling, as they would require the former players to undergo 12 to 14 hours of testing, including having blood work drawn and being subject to an MRI. Neurological, neuropsychological, and psychiatric examinations would also be conducted, according to the memo in support, as they are necessary to prove/disprove plaintiffs’ allegations. No timeframe is yet scheduled as to when the motion might be ruled on, but it is worth noting that over the last few months, both sides to the suit have continuously battled over a proposed moratorium on discovery while the league awaits a ruling on its 2014 motion to dismiss.