28 year old NHL star Derek Boogaard was a six year veteran of the NHL. He was also addicted to pain killers and suffering from CTE as a result of repeated head trauma. Following Boogaard's accidental overdose in 2011, his parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the National Hockey League for what they alleged was their promotion of on-ice violence that ultimately led to their son's death.
The Chicago Tribune reports, "The lawsuit alleged that the NHL knew or should have known that players with brain damage are more susceptible to drug addiction and that enforcers specifically had an increased risk of developing addiction to prescription medication." How bad was Boogaard's prescription medication addiction? At the end of the 2008-2009 season alone, Boogaard was prescribed 1,000 pills by team doctors and dentists and taking up to 10 oxycotin pills a day. Reading those claims and details it seems like the parents might have a pretty good case against the NHL-- so why was it dismissed? For a reason that can be both confusing and upsetting- a technicality. The case was dismissed because the parents (while within the class of individuals able to bring a wrongful death suit) failed to register themselves as trustees of their sons' estate-- a legal requirement in the state of Illinois in order to sue.
In his twenty page opinion the Judge in the case goes on to clarify that this dismissal in no way serves as an endorsement of, "how the NHL handled Boogaard's particular circumstances or the circumstances of other NHL players who over the years have suffered injuries from on-ice play."
There are a lot of interesting takeaways that the publicity of Boogaard's case is helping to bring to light including the increasing damage contact sports are having on the brain and the importance of meeting all the filing requirements when it comes to a wrongful death case. Maybe the Boogaards would have brought a winning case; maybe they would have lost. But what should not be happening in a personal injury case is to have your case dismissed on a technicality like this. There are important classification, time and other requirements that make working with an experienced wrongful death attorney extremely important.
At the Walch Law Firm, we are here to help. If you are dealing with a wrongful death, give us a call today to discuss things further. Your first meeting with us is always on the house and designed to help you understand the legal process, how we can help and answer all the questions may have about this important opportunity for financial recovery in the wake of a death. Like any type of personal injury case, time is of the essence so do not hesitate to get in touch with us today and let's begin working together.