Boogaard family sues NHL in wrongful death case

May 13, 2013, by

Disclaimer: This is one of those rare circumstances where we will not opine on the news. We do not have any facts other than what is being reported, and it is unfair to pass judgment without having all the facts. All we can do is send our prayers to the Boogaard family.

News broke yesterday that the family of the late Derek Boogaard is suing the NHL in the wrongful death of the former Ranger. Per ESPN, the family is suing on the basis that ”┬áthe league is responsible for the brain damage that Boogaard sustained during six seasons as an enforcer in the league, and for his addiction to prescription painkillers.”

Boogaard died in May of 2011 after an accidental overdose of alcohol and painkillers. Following his death, his brain was examined by Boston University School of Medicine and he was diagnosed with “chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain ailment that is caused by repeated blows to the head.”

This is another chapter in the chapter in the Boogaard tragedy. The previous chapter included a “lawsuit against the NHLPA that was dismissed last Spring.”

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  1. Chris F says:

    From what I gather, the complaint is based on the allegation that doctors overmedicated Boogaard with pain killers and knew that he had acquired an addiction and was even obtaining pain killers illegally outside of the prescriptions and did not report these things.

    My question, though, is whether or not this should be a matter related to the League. Shouldn’t these suits be toward the team(s) and their medical staffs rather than the League itself?

    • Dave says:

      I’m no lawyer. I have no idea.

      • Chris F says:

        What kind of hockey blog is this without in-depth legal analysis?

        • Dave says:

          Justin is the in-house lawyer. I think he’s graduating law school today though.

          • VinceR says:

            pfffft, rookie.

          • Chris F says:

            Oh, that’s right, I forgot about Justin’s accolades.

            Congratulations to him!

            • Justin says:

              Thanks Chris, but not ’till Friday. In these types of cases, wrongful death under medical malpractice/negligence theory are measured according to industry standards. Since the league is the industry and a governing body, the individual team doctors are applying those standards. Plus, the league has deeper pockets than any individual team and are in a more effective position to implement change. It also seems like there was a league-sponsored drug rehabilitation program and treatment from doctors with affiliations with other teams or the league itself.

              It could be a different theory, but with the available info, that’s what I would think is going on.

  2. Rob says:

    Damn things are soooo addictive!

  3. Walt says:

    I hate to say this of a dead man, or his family, but this appears to be a money grab. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t his brother the person who got, and gave him the drugs that killed him?

    As a person who has taken medication, I have always followed the doctors orders, and when they say no booze, then it’s no booze. One has to take some responsibility for their behavior. I really don’t want to sound cold, but no one put a gun to his head, and forced him to go overboard with the drugs!

    • VinceR says:

      Hey Walt,

      The situation was a little more deep than drinking booze with pills or just going overboard. I do very much agree with you with doctors orders and taking responsibility for your actions.

      He had issues and needed help. As to why those close to him enabled him (whether doctors/family/friends), well that’s a different story. But yes, if you are hooked, often it takes more than just yourself and you need help. Some realize it in time and get that help, some cry out in their behavior and get it by getting arrested or hitting rock bottom, others never do.

      I don’t think it’s necessarily the league, but the doctors are fairly complicit in the whole mess. I will have to go back and re-read this story (admittedly it’s a pretty lengthy one), but if he was doing that, than yes, that is a loved one not looking out for him.

      Looks like this also comes down to a man who lived with a rough career and who’s mind could have paid for it. The story does show a darker side to the league and how things with the meds are pretty wink-wink, here you go!

      It’s long and has 3 parts, so if anyone is interested, make sure you check out all 3 parts (links are at the top of the story).

      • Walt says:


        Agree with all you say, but I still contend that it’s a money grab. Also, why hasn’t the law gone after the brother, he is just as complicit as any doctor? It’s a poor situation, and it should never have come to this.

        • VinceR says:

          Yeah, I poorly stated above, but I meant in the paragraph about the doctors being complicit, that if the the brother was also providing, he is as complicit if not more.