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In re National Hockey League Players' Concussion Injury Litigation

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

October 10, 2019

IN RE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYERS' CONCUSSION INJURY LITIGATION,
v.
NHL, et al., This document relates to Veitch

          Brian Gudmundson and David Cialkowski, Zimmerman Reed, LLP, 1100 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402, for Plaintiffs;

          Richard R Gordon, Gordon Law Offices, Ltd., 211 W. Wacker Dr., Suite 500, Chicago, Illinois 60606, for Plaintiffs;

          Stephen G. Grygiel, Steven D. Silverman, and William Sinclair, Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, LLC, 201 North Charles Street, Suite 2600, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, for Plaintiffs;

          Stuart A. Davidson, Robbins, Geller, Rudman & Dowd, LLP, 120 East Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, Florida 33432, and Leonard B. Simon, Robbins, Geller, Rudman & Dowd, LLP, 655 West Broadway, Suite 1900, San Diego, California 92101, for Plaintiffs;

          Thomas Demetrio and William T. Gibbs, Corboy & Demetrio, P.C., 33 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois 60602, for Plaintiffs;

          Robert K. Shelquist, and Rebecca A. Peterson, Lockridge, Grindal, Nauen, PLLP, 100 Washington Avenue South, Suite 2200, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401, for Plaintiffs;

          Daniel J. Connolly, Joseph M. Price, Linda S. Svitak, and Aaron D. Van Oort, Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, 2200 Wells Fargo Center, 90 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402; John H. Beisner, and Jessica D. Miller, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, 1440 New York Avenue, Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20005-2111; Shepard Goldfein, and Matthew M. Martino, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Four Times Square, New York, New York 10036; Joseph Baumgarten and Adam M. Lupion, Proskauer Rose LLP, Eleven Times Square, New York, New York 10036, for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant National Hockey League's (the “NHL”)[1] motion to dismiss plaintiff Andre Deveaux's claims in the Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. [Doc. No. 21.] See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2). In the alternative, the NHL urges the Court to transfer this action to the Southern District of New York, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Id.)

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendant's motion and dismisses Deveaux's claims without prejudice.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The general facts pertaining to the underlying MDL are set forth in previous rulings from this Court, and are incorporated here by reference. See NHL Players' Concussion Injury Litig., No. 14-MDL-2551 [Doc. No. 126], 2015 WL 1334027 (D. Minn. March 25, 2015); NHL Players' Concussion Injury Litig., No. 14-MDL-2551, 327 F.R.D. 245 (D. Minn. 2018). This substantially similar action, also brought on behalf of former NHL players, was directly filed in this district. The allegations here essentially mimic the complaint in the MDL. See NHL Players' Concussion Injury Litig., No. 14-MDL-2551 [Doc. No. 615]. Stated briefly, this case arises from repetitive head trauma-including concussive and sub-concussive head injuries-sustained by former NHL players during their professional careers. (Am. Class Action Compl. [Doc No. 8] (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 9, 579.) The NHL, according to Plaintiffs, knew or should have known, that by “permitting and promoting fighting” in the sport, players would suffer brain trauma with debilitating long-term effects. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 121-147.) The effects suffered from this NHL-sanctioned fighting include “memory loss, dementia, depression, [Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy] ‘CTE', and related symptoms, including addiction.” (Id. ¶ 129.) Moreover, Plaintiffs allege that the NHL concealed studies linking repetitive concussive events to neurodegenerative conditions. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 593.)

         Based on these allegations, each plaintiff appears to assert two negligence-based causes of action and one fraud-based cause of action against the NHL. (See, e.g., id. ¶¶ 569-596, Counts XXXXVII-XXXXIX.) Although the negligence claims overlap, the thrust of the allegations are that the NHL was negligent in disregarding its duty to (i) keep NHL players safe; and (ii) advise NHL players of all risks, including the risk of brain damage. (Id. ¶¶ 574, 586.) By failing to do so, NHL players suffered injuries, including “long-term, degenerative brain damage” and “other neurological deficits.” (Id. ¶¶ 574, 587.) In the fraud claim, Plaintiffs allege that the NHL was in a position of “superior knowledge” about the long-term effects of head hits. (Id. ¶ 589.) The NHL concealed these risks. (Id. ¶ 593.) In reasonably relying on the NHL's silence about returning to games “too soon after sustaining a traumatic brain injury” and even outright denials of “any later-in-life risks, ” NHL players suffered significant brain damage, neurocognitive, and neurological deficits. (Id. ¶¶ 593, 595.)

         Deveaux, a Canadian citizen, is the only remaining plaintiff in this action. (Id. ¶¶ 89, 569-596, Counts XXXXVII-XXXXIX.) To support the allegations above, he asserts that he suffered multiple serious head traumas that were improperly diagnosed and treated during his NHL career. (Id. ¶ 92.) Deveaux's NHL career spanned a “total of 31 games” and involved 15 hockey ...


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