NHL concussion lawsuit following a path blazed by the NFL

Mon Mar 2, 2015 8:13am EST
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Gary Leeman suffers from memory loss, dizziness, headaches and other symptoms associated with repeated head trauma.

He also has anger issues, although it may be hard to discern whether it's from the concussions he suffered as a Toronto Maple Leafs forward or his contempt for the National Hockey League.

"Obviously part of the entertainment value of the NHL is fighting," he said.

"You get five minutes for fighting," he said, referring to time in the penalty box given to a player who fights. "If you did that on the street, you'd be in jail."

Leeman, an all-star who played 15 seasons in the NHL before retiring in 1997, is one of about 70 players suing the league for knowingly withholding information about the long-term effect of concussions.

It's a path taken by thousands of former players of the National Football League, whose class-action lawsuit awaits judicial approval but is expected to cost the league in the vicinity of $1 billion.

Twenty-nine former players recently joined the NHL lawsuit, which has quietly been gathering energy since a group of 10 banded together 15 months ago and initiated the action.

"There is clearly growing momentum for the litigation amongst former players who are concerned about the long-term effects of the repetitive head trauma they sustained in the NHL," said Charles Zimmerman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.   Continued...