The Devils “wrongfully withheld” medical records from former player Mike Peluso, who claims he is now permanently disabled from brain injuries he suffered in the NHL, according to legal documents obtained by TSN.
Peluso suffered multiple concussions during his eight years in the NHL and has had eight grand mal seizures since retiring in 1998. He filed a worker’s compensation claim in 2012 in California, which at the time allowed complaints from any athlete who had played professionally in the state. Though his case has been delayed and will not be heard until February, a recent decision from Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board commissioner Marguerite Sweeney shows that the Devils have kept important medical documents secret—not only hiding them from Peluso’s legal team now, but also from Peluso himself during his playing days.
The first document is a medical report from December 1993, confirming that Peluso had suffered a concussion in a fight on the ice. After five days away from gameplay, Peluso returned when he was told by a coach that the team needed him to protect their skilled players.
The second document is a neurologist’s report from February 1994. Two months after Peluso’s concussion, he had a seizure while exercising on a treadmill. The Devils had him see a neurologist, who sent a message to the team doctor and general manager after the appointment. He described a “post-traumatic seizure as a consequence of the cerebral concussion” and said that Peluso risked further seizures and brain damage if he sustained any more hits to the head.
The Devils did not share the neurologist’s warning with Peluso, according to his lawyer. He went on to be involved with 105 more fights during his time in the NHL.
Per his legal team, Peluso now “has dementia at the young age of 50, and struggles daily with depression, anxiety, memory loss, and the constant threat of seizures from a [chronic] seizure disorder.”
“I’ve come to the realization that I’m going to die young,” he told the Newark Star-Ledger in 2015, before these medical documents were discovered. “The seizure medication is brutal, but you have to take it to survive. I pray I don’t have another seizure. I just don’t understand why someone didn’t pull me aside and tell me: ‘This is where you’ll be if you do this role. You’re welcome to do it, but these are the consequences.’ I would have never done it.”