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Power Play: Former NHL players shoot for stay of deadlines and bellwethers in NHL concussion lawsuit

Ice hockey players facing off

12 May 2017

On May 5, 2017, former National Hockey League players currently engaged in the concussion lawsuit submitted a letter requesting a stay of all deadlines surrounding their bid for class certification. This letter was drafted per an instruction from U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who ordered both parties to confer and simultaneously send letters outlining their positions.

In the letter, the players indicate it would be impracticable to be expected to depose the NHL’s 19 experts, oppose five expert motions in limine, obtain rebuttal expert declaration from their own experts, and reply to the NHL’s 96-page opposition brief by the current deadline of June 29, 2017. At the same time and in an effort to keep the litigation advancing forward, the former players’ suggest that the two parties prepare and try two or three bellwether cases that would help in uncovering the real issues regarding class suitability.

Meanwhile, the NHL filed its letter accordingly, pointing out that the former players’ bid for certification is essentially a nonstarter. It explained that the voluminous response to the class proposal arose out of the players’ trying to cut corners and use experts to cover a multitude of areas, some of which fell outside of their expertise. As such, the NHL suggested that, should the former players wish to pursue “such a radical change in the direction of this litigation,” they be required to file a motion seeking such a change and allow the NHL to respond accordingly.

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