Tyler Skaggs' Family Sues L.A. Angels, 2 Ex-Employees for Wrongful Death Over Pitcher's Overdose
"The tragedy of Tyler's death was made worse by the revelation that it could have been avoided," one of the lawsuits states. The Angels have denied any knowledge of the former pitcher's drug use
Tyler Skaggs' widow and his parents have sued the Los Angeles Angels and two of the team's former employees in connection to the late pitcher's death. Skaggs died of a fentanyl and oxycodone overdose on July 1.
In a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday and obtained by PEOPLE, his widow Carli alleges that the team "knew or should have known" of his drug use.
The complaint also claims former Angels communications director Eric Kay supplied illicit substances to several players and former Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead was aware of Kay's alleged drug use and drug distribution.
"Kay had a long history of drug abuse, and the Angels knew about his problems with drug abuse and addiction," Skaggs' widow alleges in the complaint, which cited previous rehab treatments and overdose "at least once" that would indicate the team's knowledge.
"The Angels owed Tyler Skaggs a duty to provide a safe place to work and play baseball," the complaint said. "The Angels breached their duty when they allowed Kay, a drug addict, complete access to Tyler. The Angels also breached their duty when they allowed Kay to provide Tyler with dangerous illegal drugs. The Angels should have known Kay was dealing drugs to players. Tyler died as a result of the Angels' breach of their duties."
Kay was last employed by the Angels in November 2019.
"The Angels did not fire Kay, did not remove Kay from the clubhouse, and did not properly restrict Kay's access to players such as Tyler," the complaint said. "The Angels likewise failed to stop Tyler's drug use when they knew or should have known about it."
"The tragedy of Tyler's death was made worse by the revelation that it could have been avoided," according to Skaggs' widow.
Skaggs' parents, Darrell and Debbie, also sued the team in Tarrant County District Court in Texas, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"The Angels have been informed that a civil suit has been filed by the Skaggs family," said Angels spokesperson Marie Garvey in a statement to PEOPLE.
The team hired independent investigators to look into the former pitcher's death and it concluded that the MLB organization had no knowledge. Referring to the 2019 investigation, Garvey said, "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."
Garvey concluded, "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."
Mead's attorney, Eric D. Vandevelde, has also denied the accusations.
"Before Tyler Skaggs' tragic death, Tim Mead was not aware, informed, or had any knowledge whatsoever that Tyler may have used opioids, or that Eric Kay or any Angels employee had ever provided opioids to any player. Any statement to the contrary is reckless and false," Vandevelde said in a statement to PEOPLE.
An attorney for Kay did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request to comment.
Simultaneously with the lawsuits from Skaggs' family, Kay has been charged with "conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with the 2019 overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs," U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox announced in a press release in August 2020.
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Authorities claim Kay initially denied being in Skaggs' room the night of his death, however, "investigators later learned that, contrary to what he'd told law enforcement the day Mr. Skaggs's body was discovered, Mr. Kay had allegedly admitted to a colleague that he had, in fact, visited Mr. Skaggs's room the night of his death."
Kay, who is facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted, pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in mid-August, according to the Times.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.