Federal Judge Orders the NHL to Produce Documents

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Federal Judge Orders the NHL to Produce Documents

While discovery in the NFL (National Football League) Concussion MDL was stayed, discovery in the NHL (National Hockey League) Concussion MDL is in full swing. The plaintiffs have already won a few discovery battles, but the most recent is by far the most significant.

On July 31, 2015, the Honorable Judge Susan R. Nelson entered an Order that will effectively force the NHL and its member clubs (“Clubs”) to produce a universe of documents relating to concussions.

The plaintiffs served each Club with a subpoena requesting all documents relating to its knowledge about concussions. The Clubs opposed the subpoenas, asserting inter alia that the requests were unduly burdensome and that production would violate medical privacy rights. In rejecting both arguments, Judge Nelson provided a well-reasoned discussion about the medical privacy implications, while concluding that neither the ADA nor HIPAA “provide a blanket ban on the discovery of the requested information.” Judge Nelson then devised “several layers of protection” to safeguard the disclosure of the players’ medical information.

As Judge Nelson noted, plaintiffs were seeking “clearly relevant” documents about “what the NHL and U.S. Clubs knew about concussions and when they knew it.” They are entitled to these documents. Accordingly, this Order should provide the plaintiffs with an opportunity to uncover a treasure trove of documents to support their claims.

To review the order, click here.

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