Anyone who has watched a hockey game in person is probably aware of the ubiquitous Zamboni ice resurfacing machine. The Zamboni is a vehicle similar to a commercial or industrial floor cleaner, which smooths the ice surface to make it appropriate for a professional hockey game. The standard Zamboni, which has been used for decades, runs on an internal combustion engine and emits known carcinogens in its exhaust. When used in a semi-enclosed space over extended periods of time, Zambonis may present a health risk to anyone regularly present while the machines are in use. Two athletic trainers for the Philadelphia Flyers professional hockey team have filed a lawsuit against the team and facilities, alleging they have developed health problems as a result of the defendants’ unsafe use of Zambonis.
According to the facts discussed in a local news report describing the recently filed case, the two plaintiffs have been employed by the team for over 15 years, and each was repeatedly exposed to the Zamboni machines extensively while the teams were practicing. The plaintiffs’ claims allege that each of the men developed essential thrombocythemia, which is a rare blood disorder that may be linked to the carcinogens present in the Zamboni exhaust. One of the plaintiffs has also developed a type of blood cancer that may be linked to the chemicals The plaintiffs further allege that the defendants knew or should have known of the carcinogenic risk from using the Zambonis as they did. Furthermore, the plaintiffs noted that there are effective alternatives to a Zamboni that do not utilize an internal combustion engine that emits carcinogens, and such machinery could have should have been used instead of the Zambonis.
Although the case has only recently been filed and the defendants have responded that the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit, the plaintiffs may be entitled to a significant settlement or judgment if they can demonstrate that the defendants knew of the dangers to the plaintiffs, kept them in the dark about it, and repeatedly allowed them to be exposed to the dangerous chemicals. When exposure to dangerous chemicals results in permanent health problems, the damages awarded can be substantial.