Family of Tyler Skaggs sues Angels, ex-employees for gross negligence, wrongful death

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ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 18: Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs (45) mural in the outfield during a MLB game between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on July 18, 2019 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Tyler Skaggs' death in 2019 rocked baseball, and has carried significant legal ramifications for his old team. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The parents and widow of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs filed lawsuits against his former team and two ex-employees on Tuesday, claiming negligence, gross negligence and wrongful death, their attorneys announced.

The defendants in the complaints include Angels ownership and former Angels communications employees Tim Mead and Eric Kay.

Skaggs died in a Texas hotel room in July 2019. A medical examiner later determined his cause of death to be a mixture of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone that led to a "terminal aspiration of gastric contents."

Skaggs was allegedly supplied fatal drugs by Angels employee

Kay has since been indicted for supplying Skaggs with the opioids that led to his death, with counts of conspiracy to possess with intention to distribute a controlled substance, and distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death and serious bodily injury. 

Kay has admitted to investigators that he provided Skaggs with oxycodone for years. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison. 

Mead had been Kay's superior as the Angels' vice president of communications, but left the team months before Skaggs' death to become the president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, a position he has since resigned.

From the release:

“As you might expect, the decision to file these complaints has been a very difficult one for Tyler’s parents and his wife,” said Rusty Hardin, founder and President of Rusty Hardin & Associates, a Houston law firm. “Nothing will ease the pain and heartache of losing their only child and, for Carli, her husband and soulmate. But they want to get to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding Tyler’s tragic, untimely and completely avoidable death, and to hold the individuals and entities – including the Angels – accountable for the actions that contributed to it. 

“As the federal grand jury indictment made plainly and painfully clear, were it not for the fentanyl in the counterfeit pill provided by Angels employee Eric Kay, Tyler would be alive today. And if the Angels had done a better job of supervising Eric Kay, Tyler would be alive today.” 

Both lawsuits seek a jury trial, with damages to be determined at trial. Skaggs' parents Darrell Skaggs and Debbie Hetman filed their lawsuit in Tarrant County District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, while his widow Carlie filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Angels respond to Skaggs lawsuit

The Angels responded with their own statement, saying their own independent investigation concluded the organization was not aware of Skaggs' drug use and claimed the lawsuit to be without merit:

“In 2019, Angels Baseball hired a former federal prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation to comprehensively understand the circumstances that led to Tyler’s tragic death. The investigation confirmed that the Organization did not know that Tyler was using opioids, nor was anyone in management aware or informed of any employee providing opioids to any player.

The lawsuits are entirely without merit and the allegations are baseless and irresponsible. The Angels Organization strongly disagrees with the claims made by the Skaggs family and we will vigorously defend these lawsuits in court.”

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