What is the name of the case and where is it pending?

World Association of Icehockey Players Unions North America Division, et al. v. National Hockey League, 24-cv-01066, was filed on February 14, 2024, and is pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

What is this lawsuit about?

The plaintiffs, World Association of Icehockey Players Unions North America Division (“WAIPU”), Tanner Gould and Isaiah DiLaura, allege in their Complaint on behalf of themselves and all individuals who played for a CHL club from February 2020 to present (called “Major Junior Players”) that the defendants, the National Hockey League (“NHL”), the Canadian Hockey League (“CHL”), the Ontario Hockey League (“OHL”), each of the OHL-member clubs, the Western Hockey League (“WHL”), each of the WHL-member clubs, the Québec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (“QMJHL”), and each of the QMJHL-member clubs (collectively, “defendants”), entered into anticompetitive agreements to systematically exploit Major Junior Players, effectively rendering Major Junior Players (most of whom are teenagers) the property of the clubs that control their rights and their futures. As a result, on behalf of the named plaintiffs and all others similarly situated, plaintiffs contend that the defendants illegally deprived Major Junior Players of freedom of choice, freedom of movement, and freedom to play for the club of their choice, which led to those teenaged Major Junior Players being exposed to economic, physical, psychological, and even sexual abuse.

More specifically, Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, forbids independent market participants—including horizontal competitors, like the various CHL clubs—from colluding to restrain competition among themselves. There are limited exemptions to the antitrust laws for employers who collectively bargain with a labor union in connection with negotiating the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. But Major Junior Players are not represented by any union and have no collective bargaining agreement—not with the CHL, and not with any of its member leagues or their member clubs. Absent a union and collective bargaining agreement that authorizes these practices, the Sherman Act prohibits independent sports leagues and teams from holding entry drafts of players, colluding to eliminate competition for players’ services, or agreeing to restrain competition on player compensation. 

The lawsuit claims that defendants agreed to eliminate competition among the three Major Junior Leagues for Major Junior Players, including by (1) carving up the United States and Canada into three geographic areas—and allocating one to each League from why they exclusively draft players, (2) agreeing to conduct involuntary drafts, (3) colluding on restrictive contractual terms for Major Junior Players after they are drafted, and (4) colluding on the level of compensation paid to Major Junior Players for their services, names, images and likenesses. Under the alleged scheme, Major Junior Players may be drafted even if they did not apply to participate in the draft, and whatever Club drafts a Major Junior Player gets exclusive rights to that Player for five years, the entirety of his Major Junior hockey career.  At no time were the plaintiffs represented in their dealings with the defendants by a labor union, players’ association, or other collective bargaining entity.

As damages for defendants’ alleged violation of the antitrust laws, the lawsuit seeks payment for the difference between the compensation actually paid to Major Junior Players as a result of the defendants’ unlawful conduct, and the compensation they would have received in an unrestrained, competitive market. Plaintiffs also seek damages consisting of all monies by which the defendants have been unjustly enriched through the exploitation of Major Junior Players’ names, images and/or likenesses.  The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief, prohibiting the defendants from continuing to violate the antitrust laws going forward.

What is a class action?

In a class action, one or more individuals or entities, called Class Representatives (in this case, WAIPU, Mr. Gould and Mr. DiLaura), sued on behalf of others who have similar claims. All the other individuals or entities who have similar claims are putative “class members.” The motion for class certification has not yet been filed but is expected to be submitted as the case develops.

Who are the defendants?

The defendants are the National Hockey League (“NHL”), the Canadian Hockey League (“CHL”), the Ontario Hockey League (“OHL”), each of the OHL-member clubs, the Western Hockey League (“WHL”), each of the WHL-member clubs, the Québec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (“QMJHL”), and each of the QMJHL-member clubs.

Am I a member of the proposed class?

If you are a Major Junior Player who is or was employed by a Major Junior Club in the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League, or the Québec Maritimes Junior Hockey League at any time between February 2020 and present, you are likely a member of the proposed class.

Who are the Lawyers pursuing the proposed class action against the defendants?

The plaintiffs are represented by six law firms with extensive experience in antitrust, labor, and sports matters and complex litigation. They are:







How do I get additional information?

You may receive additional information by contacting counsel via email at [email protected] or by phone at +1-646-443-8551.

Links to Relevant Documents:


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