Nearly two years after Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in a Texas hotel room, his family is suing the team and two former employees for wrongful death and negligence.
Two lawsuits were filed on Tuesday: one on behalf of Skaggs' widow, Carli, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, and another by his parents, Darrell and Debbie, in Texas' Tarrant County District Court. In addition to the Angels, the suits also name the team's former communications director Eric Kay and vice president of communications Tim Mead.
On July 1, 2019, Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his Southlake, Texas, hotel room. The Tarrant County medical examiner ruled his death an accident, after "mixed ethanol, fentanyl, and oxycodone intoxication" led him to choke on his vomit, the Los Angeles Times reports. Kay was later arrested and charged in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth with providing counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl to Skaggs that resulted in his death; he pleaded not guilty, and his trial is set to begin in mid-August.
The lawsuits allege that Kay had a "long history of drug abuse" and gave drugs to Skaggs and "at least five" other Angels players. Carli Skaggs' lawsuit contends that the team "should have known Kay was dealing drugs to players. Tyler died as a result of the Angels' breach of their duties."
In a statement, the Angels called the lawsuits "entirely without merit" and the allegations "baseless and irresponsible." Mead's attorney, Eric Vandevelde, said his client "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."
Rusty Hardin is representing the Skaggs' family, and he said it was "a very difficult" decision to file the lawsuits, but "if it were not for the fentanyl in the counterfeit pill provided by Angels employee Eric Kay, Tyler would be alive today."