A US judge on Monday dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against the National Hockey League by the family of former enforcer Derek Boogaard, while admonishing the league to do a better job taking care of its players’ health.
US District Judge Gary Feinerman in Chicago said Len and Joanne Boogaard lacked authority to sue because they were not named trustees for their son’s estate within three years of his May 2011 death at age 28, as applicable Minnesota law required.
He also said the Boogaards forfeited claims that the NHL negligently promoted a “culture of gratuitous violence” and concealed the long-term risks of concussions, saying they “utterly and inexplicably” failed to address the league’s contrary arguments.
“Although judgement is entered in the NHL’s favor, this opinion should not be read to commend how the NHL handled Boogaard’s particular circumstances — or the circumstances of other NHL players who over the years have suffered injuries from on-ice play,” Feinerman wrote.
William Gibbs, a lawyer for the Boogaards, declined to comment.
The NHL and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit sought to hold the NHL, its board of governors and commissioner Gary Bettman responsible for physical trauma and brain injuries suffered by Derek Boogaard in his six seasons as a left winger for the Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers.
Derek Boogaard died of an accidental overdose of painkillers and was later found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy resulting from repeated blows to the head.
His parents said he had fought at least 66 times during games, and that the NHL should not have let him play after he had suffered a relapse following treatment for opioid addiction.
Dozens of former players are pursuing class action claims against the NHL in a Minnesota federal court over its alleged failure to warn about the dangers of head trauma.
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