Settlement talks between the Blackhawks and former player Kyle Beach are off to a rocky start.
Beach’s lawyer, Susan Loggans, said Thursday she’s “disgusted” by the Hawks’ lack of “fair play” with their recent handling of Beach’s lawsuit, the centerpiece of the sexual assault scandal that has rocked the Hawks and the hockey world this year.
Just two weeks ago, when the Jenner & Block investigation confirmed many of the atrocious details Beach alleged in the lawsuit about his 2010 sexual assault at the hands of ex-video coach Brad Aldrich, Hawks CEO Danny Wirtz instructed team lawyers to reach a “fair resolution” in the lawsuit, which had been battled ferociously throughout the summer in court.
And indeed, Hawks lawyers and Loggans held opening settlement talks Nov. 2, then follow-up talks Nov. 5.
But in letters sent by Hawks lawyers Thursday and obtained by the Sun-Times, the Hawks called Loggans’ initial financial settlement demand “extraordinary,” saying it now “seems clear to us that we will be unable to resolve these differences through lawyer-to-lawyer discussions alone” based on the two parties’ “very different views.”
The Hawks requested the two parties agree to use a third-party mediator to determine a settlement — their second time requesting mediation, having also done so in a letter preceding the Nov. 2 talks. The Hawks, in the letter, offered to pay for the mediation and to make Danny Wirtz and chairman Rocky Wirtz present at it.
Loggans, however, remains staunchly opposed to mediation.
Loggans said she provided her initial settlement demand at the Hawks’ request, but the Hawks refused to provide their own initial settlement offer in return.
She declined to disclose her initial settlement demand publicly, but said it included the estimated earnings Beach would’ve made over a typical NHL career had he not been allegedly assaulted as a 20-year-old prospect. The Hawks were also upset by that fact, Loggans said.
The two sides also appear divided over their commitment to immediate settlement.
The Hawks, in the letter, again requested a 60-day stay in new court filings, calling it their “strong preference...to focus on the mediation process rather than litigation.”
Loggans said she’s not opposed to settlement in theory, but would nonetheless prefer to proceed to the discovery stage, where she believes evidence may surface that could suggest the Wirtz family knew about the alleged sexual assault in 2010 — something the Jenner & Block investigation found no evidence for. She called the stay a “stalling tactic.”
The Hawks currently face a court-mandated Nov. 30 deadline to either support or withdraw their pending motion to dismiss the case. That deadline is in place because Loggans herself filed a new amendment complaint in the lawsuit last week.
The Hawks continue to believe their legal defenses against Beach’s lawsuit — the statute of limitations being the most prominent of those — are strong, but now feel a “moral inclination to attempt to resolve this matter on fair terms.”
Another NHL franchise, the Penguins, notably reached a settlement via a mediator just this Tuesday in a lawsuit alleging they negligently retained a minor-league coach who sexually assaulted another coach’s wife in 2018.
Counseling payment promised
Also in the Thursday letters, the Hawks promised to pay for all of Beach’s “reasonable past and future medical and counseling expenses” — particularly counseling — relating to the alleged sexual assault.
They offered the same to a man identified as “John Doe 2” — a former Michigan high school student whom Aldrich allegedly sexually assaulted in 2013 and whom Loggans also represents in another pending negligence lawsuit against the Hawks.
The issue of counseling payment was recently raised when TSN’s Rick Westhead reported NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Doe 2’s mother that the NHL would not provide it.
Loggans said she doesn’t trust the Hawks’ intentions regarding this promise, either. She was angered by another part of the Hawks’ letter regarding Doe 2, which requested she turn over his “medical records, school transcripts, and income records.”