ABA Journal


Entertainment & Sports Law

NHL sued by player’s family for wrongful death

May 13, 2013, 12:40 pm CDT


Sad that grown men can not take accountability for their own actions. No one forced him to take anything or are the ambulance chasers suggesting that drugs and playing time were forced on him?

By tim17 on 2013 05 13, 3:29 pm CDT

It just seems like there's something wrong here. Derek Boogaard played played professional hockey for teams in New York and Minnesota. He was known as a brawler, the NYT story has a picture of him brawling without his helmet. Her certainly took the money he was paid for his play. At the age of 28, and while under contract to the Rangers, he was found dead in his room (the story says from an over dose of alcohol and pain medication).....
So, the Rangers team isn't responsible, the "Wild" isn't responsible, but the NHL is responsible. How does that work ?
Hockey is a violent sport that includes a lot of physical contact. This is a sport in which the players had to be forced by the NHL to wear helmets, mouth guards, and protective gear.
I just don't understand how you can hold the NHL, or the NFL or MLB, NBA, Soccer, or any other sports league financially responsible for the inherent risks involved in these sports.

By davebert on 2013 05 13, 5:10 pm CDT

@2 - "I just don’t understand how you can hold the NHL, or the NFL or MLB, NBA, Soccer, or any other sports league financially responsible for the inherent risks involved in these sports. "

The leagues and their member teams all profit from these risks which are indeed inherent and necessary to the sports. But the costs of these risks are disproportionately born by the individual players who suffer the injuries.

The leagues are better able to bear the costs and to spread them over everyone who benefits from them. That includes the teams owners and players who are lucky enough to escape serious injury.

Now that the risks and associated costs are known to the leagues they should not be allowed to externalize those costs while continuing to enjoy the profits.

By W.R.T. on 2013 05 13, 5:58 pm CDT

#3 You give an excellent summary of the theories of Harper and James and Roger Traynor, inter alia. I don't agree with them, as I favor individual over collective responsibility in this area as in the rest of life. But what you state is, I think, the rationale for many of the decisions which cause some of us to gnash our teeth. In this case, things are exacerbated by the fact of his suicide. I simply cannot accept that as a cost.

By Walt Fricke on 2013 05 13, 8:04 pm CDT

@4. Walt,

Just for the record, my comments are based on my own musings on this subject and were arrived at independently. (Actually I am not too sure who the gentlemen you mentioned are but I applaud their good judgment in agreeing with me.)

As to Duerson's suicide I agree that it should be distinguished from chronic truamatic encphalopathy and other highly foreseeable injuries. I expect that causation would be difficult to establish.

By W.R.T. on 2013 05 13, 10:06 pm CDT

#3/5 WRT - If your lawyerly musings are anything like mine, they are prompted or at least aided by reading cases, and the reasoning therein. Filtered, to be sure, by your own thinking, and cogently applied.

Harper and James wrote an influential tort treatise, and Traynor was a California Supreme Court chief justice for many years. I'm recalling '40s and '50s as when they were most prolific (this not based on me reading cases then, but later). All were (I hope memory serves here) proponents of enterprise liability, accounting for externalities, and so on. Traynor participated in decisions altering the common law on things like "no liability to trespassers" and, I think, greatly reducing the effect of intervening tort feasors (for instance, allowing owner of car who left key in it to be tried for liability for damage caused by theives to others with that car. Traynor was also a proponent of state supreme courts interpreting their state analogs of the Bill of Rights differently than the US Supremes did, despite in many cases identical or near identical language (unless I am confusing him with one of the Warren court justices during the Burger era who had the same views), but that's in a different area.

By Walt Fricke on 2013 05 13, 11:02 pm CDT

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