LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The family of former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died of a drug overdose in 2019, filed wrongful death lawsuits against the team Tuesday.
Skaggs’ wife and parents filed lawsuits in both California and Texas against the Angels and two of its employees, Eric Kay and Tim Mead, who worked in the team’s communications department.READ MORE: LA County Supervisor Signs Executive Order Requiring All County Employees Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19
Kay is facing federal criminal charges for providing Skaggs with the drugs which he overdosed on.
The lawsuits allege negligence, gross negligence and wrongful death.
Skaggs was found dead at the age of 27 in a suburban Dallas hotel room on July 1, 2019, while the Angels were on the road playing the Texas Rangers. A toxicology report later determined Skaggs died of an accidental overdose from a mix of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone.
In October of 2020, a Texas grand jury indicted 45-year-old Kay with two counts of distributing the fentanyl that resulted in Skaggs’ death.
Kay had provided Skaggs with drugs prior to his death on several occasions, federal prosecutors said. When authorities searched Skaggs’ hotel room following his death, they found several pills, one of which was determined to be a counterfeit pill laced with fentanyl.
The lawsuits contend Angels management “knew or should have known that Kay was supplying illicit drugs to not only Tyler, but at least five other Angels’ players, i.e., 24% of the team’s active roster.”
“Kay had a long history of drug abuse, and the Angels knew about his problems with drug abuse and addiction,” according to the lawsuits. “The Angels knew that Kay had gone to rehab several times during his employment with the Angels and that he had overdosed at least once. Despite all of this, Kay had complete access to players, day and night, both off the field and on the field, who the Angels knew, or should have known, were trying to play through the pains and injuries associated with the long baseball season. This was a fatal mistake.”READ MORE: CBS2 Investigates: E. Coli Bacteria Levels In Echo Park Lake Higher Than State Water Quality Standards
Skaggs, who attended Santa Monica High School where his mother is a softball coach, was drafted by the Angels back in 2009. He was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, but was then traded back to the Angels in 2013, and had been with the Angels ever since. He had married his wife Carli in the offseason just prior to his death.
He underwent Tommy John surgery that kept him out of action during the 2015 season. He had a career record of 28-38.
Skaggs’ death sent shock waves around the sports world. In December of 2019, Major League Baseball announced it would begin drug testing players for opioids, a move which was precipitated by Skaggs’ death.
“As you might expect, the decision to file these complaints has been a very difficult one for Tyler’s parents and his wife,” a Houston law firm representing the family said in a statement. “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.”
Marie Garvey of the Angels issued a statement denying wrongdoing by the team.
“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,” Garvey said. “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 Angels released the following statement in response to the lawsuits:MORE NEWS: Daily COVID Cases Top 3,700 In LA County; 12-Year-Old Child Among New Deaths
“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.”