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CFL and plaintiffs still in discussions over concussion-related class-action lawsuit

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The Canadian Football League is still in discussions with representatives of plaintiffs in a four-year-old class-action lawsuit over concussions, but there’s still no guarantee that those talks will lead to a settlement, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Wednesday.

“We’re actively pursuing a resolution. I’d say that, like most things that relate to the Canadian Football League and the people I get to work with, they want to do good work and they want to do good things, and I live that every day,” Ambrosie said in an interview following his 52-minute appearance before the House of Commons Subcommittee on Sports-Related Concussions.

“But you know what? We go into this issue with the goal of ultimately resolving it in a positive, constructive way and I think that we are on that path.

“Of course, between here and there, you don’t know. But what I can tell you is the way we approach these issues, it’s done honourably and it’s done with the intention of a positive outcome.”

The class-action lawsuit was filed in 2015, with former CFL players Eric Allen and Korey Banks as representative plaintiffs. Since then, more than 200 other former players or their families have signed on, seeking damages for every player who practised or played games with CFL teams between 1952 and 2014. That group includes Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee Alondra Johnson, a linebacker with the B.C. Lions, Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders between 1989 and 2004, plus the families of former Ottawa Rough Riders Rod Woodward, Gary Schreider and Dennis Duncan.

The lawsuit claimed the CFL and its teams knew or ought to have known about the long-term health risks from concussions. That claim has not been tested in court or in arbitration.

A separate grievance filed by former CFL receiver Arland Bruce, who also claimed he was allowed to return to game action even though he was still experiencing symptoms from a concussion, is in arbitration. In March 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear an appeal of British Columbia court rulings that required Bruce to go to arbitration because he had been a member of the CFL Players’ Association.

Ambrosie said the Bruce grievance was “part of that overall conversation, but I can’t comment specifically on that case.”

gholder@postmedia.com

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Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019


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