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Family of Former NHL Player Sues League for Wrongful Death

In our last blog post, we discussed lawsuits brought by former pro football players against the National Football League for ignoring the dangers of multiple head injuries. Yesterday, we learned that the family of professional hockey player Derek Boogaard has brought a similar lawsuit against the National Hockey League.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that the NHL is responsible for Boogaard’s death from an accidental drug overdose because it fed his prescription painkiller addiction, failed to monitor his prescription use, failed to discipline Boogaard and should have known that hockey enforcers like Boogaard had increased addiction and concussion risks.

Derek Boogaard died after overdosing on prescription drugs and alcohol in 2011. He was on leave from drug rehabilitation. Upon his death, it was discovered that Boogaard suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the same brain disease found in many pro football players. CTE is caused by multiple brain injuries (such as repeated mild concussions) and can cause depression and memory loss.

Boogaard’s lawsuit is slightly different from that of more than 4,200 pro football players who claim the NFL ignored — and even covered up — medical advice that showed the risk of multiple head injuries. In Boogaard’s case, the family is attempting to link Boogaard’s accidental overdose death to both his CTE and the NHL’s role in his prescription drug addiction.

It is possible, however, that many more former NHL, high school and college hockey players will come forward to show that the NHL, like the NFL, did not do enough to prevent serious brain damage.

Source: The New York Times, “In suit Over Death, Boogaard’s Family Blames The NHL,” John Branch, May 12, 2013