An Ontario Superior Court judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit filed by former Canadian Hockey League (CHL) players in 2020.
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This initiative by Daniel Carcillo, Garrett Taylor and Stephen Quirk denounced a climate of intimidation and abuse within the organization, which oversees Canada’s three major junior hockey circuits, namely the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (LHJMQ), the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Western Ice Hockey League (WHL).
According to TSN journalist Rick Westhead, Judge Paul Perell dismissed the appeal, claiming it was inappropriate for the ex-athletes’ complaint.
“A hockey player who is a victim of abuse can sue the team and league he was a member of. However, [la LHJMQ, l’OHL, la WHL et les 60 clubs qui constituent la LCH] are separate and independent legal entities with their own governance structures,” the judge said in a 103-page report.
The judge cited the example of Carcillo, who played in the OHL with the Sarnia Sting and the Mississauga IceDogs. He can file a lawsuit against these organizations, but his complaint would not affect the WHL and the LHJMQ as he did not develop in those circles.
However, the judge wanted to highlight the courage of the former CHL skaters, and he is aware of the abuses that plague junior hockey.
“Bullying, harassment, incitement and criminal behavior are pervasive among WHL, OHL and QMJHL teams,” added Justice Perrell.
For their part, the CHL have mentioned that they care about the welfare of their players. She is also glad that this situation is over.
“The CHL is committed to the health and safety of its players and we take allegations and conduct contrary to that commitment seriously. […] However, we are pleased that the court accepted our view that a class action is not the appropriate remedy,” CHL President Dan McKenzie wrote in a statement sent to TSN.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys have not yet said whether his clients plan to appeal the decision.