Hockey Players Can Get Redacted Medical Docs

     (CN) — The workers’ comp provider for the National Hockey League must give former players copies of medical exams for head trauma, but the records can’t include personal info, a federal judge ruled.
     The dispute centers on a concussion program the league created in 1997, which led to documentation of game-related head injuries through 2004, according to court records.
     NHL players claim the program shows that the league knew concussions could ultimately lead to neurocognitive illness.
     U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson in Minnesota ordered the league to disclose emails related to the matter in March of this year.
     NHL spokesman Gary Meagher said the league “has never been in the business of trying to make the game safer at all levels” in one such email, written in August 2014.
     Nelson also refused in May to dismiss the master complaint based on the NHL’s claim about labor law preemption.
     The players had earlier served a subpoena on nonparty Chubb Corp. — which has provided workers’ compensation benefits for NHL clubs since 1994 — seeking records concerning workers’ comp claims for head trauma or brain disease from Jan. 1, 1967 through the present.
     Chubb objected, claiming the files sought were subject to “privacy law” governing the disclosure of personal information and that responding would be unduly burdensome and costly, court records show.
     The players then amended their request to seek only the medical exams submitted in connection with concussion injury claims by retired NHL players, perhaps made anonymous.
     Chubb then sought a medical release from each retired player authorizing the production of the records.
     The players, in turn, moved to compel Chubb’s compliance with the subpoena and sought unredacted versions of the medical exams.
     Nelson partially granted the players’ motion Wednesday, finding that the “plaintiffs are entitled to production of the anonymized versions of the [independent medical exams, or IMEs] in Chubb’s possession, pursuant to the protective order in place, without prior notice to the nonparty NHL retiree players before the records are produced to plaintiffs.”
     The judge held last year that “anonymizing medical records was sufficient to protect the competing needs of plaintiffs to access the players’ medical information and the ‘understandable, serious concerns of the U.S. Clubs and defendant about the confidential nature of the requested information,'” in a similar subpoena seeking players’ medical records.
     This week, Nelson found it “highly significant that the records at issue here are IMEs, not medical records generated by a physician in a confidential relationship with his or her patient and in the furtherance of diagnosis and treatment of that patient. By their very nature, these IMEs are the product of an inherently adversarial relationship.”
     Chubb must “redact all personal identifying information of the retiree from the IMEs (e.g. name, date of birth, address, Social Security number), as well as any information that could identify the player, such as team, current occupation, and the exact date of the injury,” Wednesday’s ruling states.
     The hockey players are represented by Zimmerman Reed in Minneapolis; Chestnut Cambronne; Bassford Remele; Heins Mills & Olson; Lockridge, Grindal, Nauen; and Gustafson Gluek.
     Zimmerman Reed in Scottsdale, Ariz., represents the players as well, as do Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White in Baltimore; Corboy & Demetrio in Chicago; Goldman, Scarlato & Penny in Wayne, Pennsylvania; the Levine Law Firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Namanny, Byrne, & Owens in Lake Forest, California; Hellmuth & Johnson in Edina, Minnesota; Robbins, Geller, Rudman & Dowd; Stuart Davidson, Janine Arno, Kathleen Douglas, and Mark Dearman in Boca Raton, Florida, and Leonard Simon in San Diego.
     Faegre Baker Daniels in Minneapolis represents the league, along with Proskauer Rose in New York; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Geoffrey Wyatt, John Beisner, and Jessica Miller in Washington, D.C.; and Shepard Goldfein, James Keyte, Michael Menitove, and Matthew Martino in New York.
     Chubb’s attorneys are with Hogan Lovells US Stephen Loney Jr and David Newmann in Philadelphia, and Peter Walsh in Minneapolis.
     The attorneys did not return requests for comment Friday.

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