On the two-year anniversay of his passing, the family of the late Derek Boogaard have filed a wrongful-death suit against the NHL. In the complaint, the family argues the NHL is responsible for the physical trauma and brain damage Boogaard suffered during his six NHL seasons and his addiction to pain killers.
Williams Gibbs, attorney for the Boogaard family, has this to say when questioned about the lawsuit (via New York Times)
“...you take a young man, you subject him to trauma, you give him pills for that trauma, he becomes addicted to those pills, you promise to treat him for that addiction, and you fail.”
The defendants listed in the complaint are the NHL, NHL Board of Governors and Gary Bettman. The Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers are NOT among the defendants.
Complaint alleges NHL breached duty to keep Boogaard "reasonably safe" and to "refrain from causing an addiction to controlled substances"— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) May 13, 2013
The family is not looking for a large monetary sum for themselves. Rather, “a sum in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limit” for each of eight counts in the suit.
- It's just extremely sad to read about. On the grounds of not keeping Boogaard safe and failing to monitor his situation, I think the family has a very valid argument. You cannot blindly give any player prescription after prescription of prescription drugs. Period.
- However, It'll be tough to prove the NHL is responsible for Boogaard's physical trauma which was entirely voluntary.
- What you hope for out of this decision is a much stricter, tougher policy in regards to prescribing medication, that way there's not another Derek Boogaard situation in the future.
FYI - “a sum in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limit” is only language establishing their legal entitlement to sufficient damages to bring the suit in the court they chose - don't kid yourself - they are looking for big $$$. As far as a valid argument on the failure to supervise - you need to prove a legal duty before you can prove negligence...more relevant is the fact that he was sneaking around on his own brother - what's the family's culpability if they knew about his problem?
I think the NHL will handle this appropriately. I'd be surprised if this actually made it to court, and the NHL will probably start keeping a closer eye on pain meds for players. Also wouldn't be surprised to see a campaign to raise awareness for prescription drug addiction or a foundation for ex-players with addiction issues.
When this story broke on ESPN this morning I was disappointed to see the comment section become flooded with such stern sentiment against the Boogaard family.
The repeated mantras were "can nobody take accountability for their own actions anymore?" and "it's disgraceful that this family is trying to capitalize off their sons death."
The accountability argument holds some water, but please people: have some class.
Ah, now this is a topic I can really get into.
It is a tragedy, first and foremost. A young man's life was lost, and the grief his family and friends endured and continue to endure...incalculable.
With that said......
As someone who played and fought often...nobody put a gun to my head to sign a contract. I wanted to play....I knew what was expected of me...and I did it.
Dang..gotta get back to work...to be continued....
@McPhee37 You're 100% correct McPhee, but my problem has always been the loack of monitoring the NHL did with a player in their substance abuse program. How can they allow the Rangers to prescribe pain killers for a known drug addict?!?!
I can only speak from my experience playing and fighting..........
It's tough dropping the gloves for a living. It's tough physically and emotionally. Fans watching don't truly understand the pain involved. Imagine getting into a fight, taking several punches...you think you're not in pain the next day? Bruised jaw..teeth knocked out or knocked loose...broken nose...headaches..sinus pain....bruised or busted hand...etc.....and then fight again the day after?
Substance abuse, when I played...was rampant among enforcers. If you're considered an enforcer, or a tough player..you're expected to play through pain. Show me an enforcer who can't play much because of injury, and I'll show you an enforcer who will soon be unemployed and out of the game....
It's a vicious cycle. Your job causes pain to your body, you need help in keeping the pain at bay to do your job....repeat over and over and over and over.
I took plenty of pills when I played.....but never went through the organization. I didn't want people to know I was dealing with a lot of pain....I barely made the club as it was....I didnt want them thinking i couldn't hack it...and get someone to take my spot on the roster.
One thing I never did tho...was mix booze and pills.....that always scared me. Isnt that what killed Boogaard....accidental overdose pills with alcohol?
@KevinDeLury @McPhee37 This kind of goes hand in hand with the NFL, head trauma, and the doctors who treat these "patients". I wouldn't be surprised, as these things continue to develop, that there is a change in the way doctors are employed, and they begin working for the league and not the individual teams.
This would allow for monitoring at a league-wide level, with doctors reporting to the league first and the team second. Doctors could also double check each other and rotate to keep a level of fairness, more like the way officiating is (ideally) expected to work.
I havent re-read that NYT spread, but as much as the doctors were prescribing the pills, it read as though Boogard took advantage of multiple doctors potentially not knowing what else was being prescribed to a patient (maybe the NHL needs to team up with CVS to track multiple prescriptions). The NHL also provided counseling and treatment to Boogaard, and at the end of the day, the pills in his system the night he died were given to him by his brother, not the league.
I would also be surprised that smaller market teams with less money would want to bear the risk of a suit like this being filed against them.