Many people have heard about the thousands of lawsuits filed against the NFL over its possibly negligently handling of concussions among players who were unaware of the danger they were being subjected to. What many in the legal world have been wondering is whether the recent onslaught of cases filed against the NFL and helmet-maker Riddell might spark a similar legal push by other retired athletes from a wider array of professional sports.
A recent article in New York Times discussing a wrongful death suit filed against the National Hockey League (NHL) indicates that the answer is likely “yes.” According to the Times, the family of a former NHL enforcer, Derek Boogaard, has filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the now deceased player. The family claims Boogaard’s death was linked to injuries he sustained during his career with the Rangers.
Boogaard was found dead of an accidental prescription painkiller overdose back in May of 2011. He was only 28 at the time and many wondered what could have led to such an unspeakable tragedy. A lawyer for the family has said that the problem was sparked by severe head injuries suffered by Boogaard who was then given addictive painkillers as treatment, which he then became dependent on.
The family has pointed to a recent autopsy that was conducted on Boogaard and which showed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE. The condition is a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated blows to the head. Many were surprised that a player as young as Boogaard was already showing signs of the terrible disease and the discovery has prompted concerns for the health of other players that are at the receiving end of damaging blows to the brain.
The legal filings indicate that Boogaard played 277 NHL games over the course of six seasons with the league. During that time Boogaard fought at least 66 times while on the rink and was provided “copious amounts of prescription pain medications, sleeping pills, and painkiller injections by NHL teams’ physicians, dentists, trainers and staff.” The abundance of pain medication was intended to combat the constant pain he suffered from the injuries he sustained on the ice.
One example of the severity of his pain is that Boogaard was given at least 13 injections of Toradol in the last two years of career. The drug is a masking agent for pain and is meant to allow people suffering from intense injuries to carry on with their lives. In another case, after suffering a severe injury to his face and having to undergo corrective surgery, doctors prescribed Boogaard 150 pills of oxycodone over only 16 days.
The lawsuit claims that the NHL breached its duty to Boogaard by failing to monitor his prescription medications and for failing to establish proper procedures for administering such powerful medications. The suit also alleges the NFL repeatedly encouraged Boogaard to return to game play after suffering obvious concussions, something that contributed to the development of his CTE.
Pope McGlamry P.C., currently represents former professional football players and their families for injuries and damages sustained as a result of suffering concussions while playing football, and is actively involved in the current concussion litigation. If you or someone you love has been injured during your professional football career, you may be entitled to compensation.
Source: “In Suit Over Death, Boogaard’s Family Blames the N.H.L.,” by John Branch, published at NYTimes.com.
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