U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review of Boogaard Opioid Death Lawsuit

On December 3, 2018, the United States Supreme Court refused review of the wrongful death lawsuit brought by the parents of ex-NHL player Derek Boogaard. The lawsuit, had alleged Boogaard suffered a fatal overdose as a direct result of the NHL encouraging violence and concealing information regarding the dangers of head trauma.

By way of refresher, Derek Boogaard was known as an “enforcer” on the ice over his six years in the league, fighting 66 times over his 277 regular season career. After passing as a result of a painkiller overdose, a postmortem analysis of his brain revealed that Boogaard also suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, colloquially known as CTE.

Back in June, 2017, an Illinois federal court dismissed the claims brought by Boogaard’s parents after the NHL successfully argued a lack of an owed duty on its part to preemptively warn players about injury potential. The Seventh Circuit then rejected the parents’ appeal of this decision in May.

Finally, in their motion for certiorari, the parents pleaded that “[s]ince the district court undisputedly found that the remaining viable claims all arise under state law, it should have relinquished jurisdiction at that point rather than endeavor to interpret Minnesota and/or Illinois procedural laws.” Ultimately, the Supreme Court declined review of the case; neither counsel for the Boogaards nor counsel for the NHL have commented as of yet.

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