June 11, 2013 — The family of Derek Boogaard has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the National Hockey League (NHL). The lawsuit alleges that the NHL is responsible for the physical trauma and brain damage Boogaard incurred during six seasons as an “enforcer” for the Rangers and Minnesota Wild. According to the lawsuit, Boogaard played 277 NHL games and fought at least 66 times on the ice.
His family alleges that he sustained dozens of concussions during his career, and was given “copious amounts of prescription pain medications, sleeping pills, and painkiller injections by NHL teams’ physicians, dentists, trainers, and staff,” including at least 13 injections of Toradol. He also underwent surgery for his nose and shoulder. After being prescribed narcotic painkillers, he developed an addiction and required drug rehabilitation.
Boogaard spent five seasons with the Wild, and signed a $6.5 million contract with the Rangers in 2010. Later that year, he suffered a concussion during a fight in Ottawa. In 2011, Boogaard went to drug rehabilitation for a second time after stumbling during practice with the Rangers.
On May 13, 2011, Boogaard died of an accidental overdose of prescription painkillers and alcohol, at the age of 28. An autopsy revealed that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a severe brain disease caused by repeated head trauma.
Other sports organizations, including the National Football League (NFL), are also facing litigation. CTE has been diagnosed in at least 20 dead NFL players and many boxers. Unfortunately, because CTE can only be diagnosed through an autopsy, it is unknown how many athletes have this disease.
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