NHL wants to keep wrongful death suit in the federal courts

By Joseph M. Hanna

26 January 2017 

On January 20, 2017, the NHL opposed sending the wrongful death suit of deceased hockey player Derek Boogaard back to state court. The lawsuit began in 2013, and was initially filed in Cook County, Illinois, but was removed by the NHL to the federal courts shortly after. Boogaard’s family alleges he developed a painkiller addiction and permanent brain damage from injuries sustained as an “enforcer” for the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild. Boogaard died of a painkiller overdose in 2011, and was prescribed as much many as 150 pills in a 16 day period.

The family of Boogaard has argued that part of their claims are state law claims, and that the case should be remanded to the state courts. The NHL has opposed their motion, and argued that all the claims are preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act.

Although Boogard is not a named plaintiff in the litigation, the Boogards have been able to use evidence from a multidistrict class action that is ongoing in Minnesota. The NHL is a defendant to the suit that claims the league acted with “fraudulent misconduct” and hid the known risks of repeated head injuries from their players. The lawsuit alleges the league acted with negligence by allowing and promoting fighting.

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About the Author

Joseph M. Hanna

Joseph M. Hanna

Joseph Hanna is a partner of Goldberg Segalla and concentrates his practice in commercial litigation with a focus on sports and entertainment law and retail, hospitality, and development litigation. Joe represents sports franchises, professional athletes, and movie studios with various issues related to licensing, contracts, and day-to-day management. He serves as Chair of Goldberg Segalla’s Sports and Entertainment Law Practice Group and editor of the firm’s Sports and Entertainment Law Insider blog. In addition, Joe is the Chair of Goldberg Segalla's Diversity Task Force. He possesses an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
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