Silverman Thompson Files Class Action Lawsuit Against National Hockey League

The law firm of Silverman Thompson in Baltimore, Md. has filed a class action lawsuit against the National Hockey League (“NHL”) on behalf of its former players. These players allege that the NHL has been fraudulent and negligent in its failure to respond effectively to decades of head injuries caused by the league’s rules. The sanctioned bare-knuckle fighting, elbows to the head, vicious checks against the glass, and falls to the ice add up and have taken a brutal toll on players’ health, according to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The class action complaint, Leeman, et al. v. National Hockey League, et al., Case No: 13-CV-1856, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, specifically claims that the NHL has consistently ignored or is reluctant to recognize current medical knowledge about concussions, and lags behind in introducing protections for players that have long been implemented by other hockey leagues around the world.

“NHL rule changes in 2004 made the game faster, more exciting, and more marketable, but led to increasingly violent collisions between players, resulting in an unprecedented number of severe head injuries,” said Steven D. Silverman, managing partner of Silverman Thompson. “The NHL still refuses to penalize bare-knuckle fighting or body-checking in spite of overwhelming evidence that both practices result in debilitating head injuries. Instead, the NHL prefers to continue employing and glorifying ‘enforcers’ – players whose primary role is to fight and violently body-check opposing players.”

Silverman, a nationally renowned litigator representing the players in the lawsuit, added, “The reluctance of the NHL to do anything but pay lip service in response to this decades-long problem is shocking. The NHL has only reluctantly and recently amended a few rules, but these changes continue to be ineffective in reducing concussions. That is why a super majority of delegates at the recent meeting of the Canadian Medical Association in Calgary voted to condemn the complacency of the NHL in regards to violence in hockey.”

Richard Vaive, a named plaintiff in the lawsuit who played in the NHL from 1979 to 1992, described the players’ predicament as being “kept in the dark about the risks of concussions. Team doctors patched us up and put us right back on the ice.”

For decades, the NHL has profited from encouraging and marketing a culture of violence at the cost of the long-term health of its players. This lawsuit seeks treatment and compensation for those intentional decisions. For further information, contact Steve Silverman at or 800.385.2243.