UPDATE: 7th Circuit Declines to Revisit its Decision in Late NHL Player’s Wrongful Death Suit

On June 25, 2018, a panel of three 7th Circuit judges voted to deny a rehearing in the wrongful death suit filed on behalf of the late NHL player, Derek Boogaard. As we have continued to cover since 2013, the case was originally dismissed largely due to procedural and technical defects, rather than the merits and alleged facts of the case.

Boogaard died in 2011 following an accidental overdose of pain medication and alcohol. He was 28 years old. A posthumous diagnosis revealed that Boogaard suffered from “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” (CTE), a degenerative brain condition often caused and exacerbated by blows to the head. Allegedly, Boogaard became addicted to pain killers and sleeping medication while playing the NHL. Despite his addictions, league doctors continued to prescribe the drugs and allowed Boogaard to continue playing.

The wrongful death suit, filed by Boogaard’s family, was originally halted in 2015, after the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the NHL. The district court held that Boogaard’s claims were preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA); however, the Boogaard’s then filed an amended complaint. The district court again sided with the NHL by granting a motion to dismiss. The district court noted that the Boogaard’s forfeited their claims by failing to respond to the NHL’s argument and that their amended complaint failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted.

In September 2017, the Boogaard’s appealed to the United Stated Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, but in May 25, 2018, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal. Most recently, the Boogaard’s requested that the Seventh Circuit revisit its decisions; however, a panel of Judge Frank H. Easterbrook, Judge Amy Barrett, and Judge Joseph Stadmueller all voted to deny a rehearing.

Boogaard played in 277 NHL games for the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers and he was involved in at least 66 on-ice fights.

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