Tyler Skaggs' family sues Angels, two ex-employees in his death

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The widow and parents of Tyler Skaggs sued the Los Angeles Angels and two former employees Tuesday, nearly two years after the pitcher's death from a drug overdose.

Carli Skaggs' suit was filed against the team and former communications employees Eric Kay and Tim Mead in Los Angeles County Superior Court, and his parents, Darrell Skaggs and Debbie Hetman, filed their suit in district court in Tarrant County, Texas. In both cases, the plaintiffs accuse the Angels of wrongful death and negligence.

The filings also allege Kay, the team's former communications director, supplied drugs to Skaggs and at least five other Angels. Mead, who recently resigned as president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, citing family responsibilities, was Kay's supervisor at the time as team vice president of communications.

"As you might expect, the decision to file these complaints has been a very difficult one for Tyler's parents and his wife," Texas-based lawyer Rusty Hardin, the Skaggs family's attorney, 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."

The Angels released a statement, calling the lawsuits "irresponsible."

"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 statement read. "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."

Skaggs was 27 when he died July 1, 2019, in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas. The Angels were in town to play the Texas Rangers, and an autopsy later showed he died of aspiration and had a combination of oxycodone, fentanyl and alcohol in his system.

"The Angels owed Tyler Skaggs a duty to provide a safe place to work and play baseball," Carli Skaggs' lawsuit 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."

The family is seeking jury trials but didn't specify the amount of damages being sought.

Kay was indicted last October in connection with Skaggs' death. He pleaded not guilty to federal drug-distribution charges and is scheduled to stand trial in August in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas. He faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted.

Kay left the team 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 Los Angeles lawsuit said. "The Angels likewise failed to stop Tyler's drug use when they knew or should have known about it."

Hardin's statement added: "If the Angels had done a better job of supervising Eric Kay, Tyler would be alive today."

Skaggs pitched seven seasons in the major leagues, the first two with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2012-13) and the rest with the Angels (2014, 2016-19). The left-hander had a career record of 28-38 with a 4.41 ERA in 96 starts.

--Field Level Media