Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs died almost two years ago, on July 1, 2019 (a July 13, 2019 tribute from teammates is shown above), but the aftermath of his death is still being felt. Former Angels communications director Eric Kay, who left the team after Skaggs’ death, was arrested in August 2020 and is facing criminal charges for providing counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl to Skaggs and for possessing fentanyl with intent to distribute. And now there’s civil litigation involved as well, as Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times writes:
The family of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs has sued the team and two former employees after his overdose death almost two years ago, alleging that an Angels employee supplied drugs to multiple players.
One lawsuit was filed Tuesday morning in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of Skaggs’ widow, Carli, while his parents, Darrell and Debbie, sued in Tarrant County (Texas) District Court.
The complaints, which name former communications director Eric Kay and longtime vice president of communications Tim Mead as defendants in addition to the Angels, accuse the team of wrongful death and negligence. The lawsuits allege Kay “had a long history of drug abuse” and provided drugs to “at least five” Angels players other than Skaggs.
“The Angels owed Tyler Skaggs a duty to provide a safe place to work and play baseball,” the lawsuit filed in L.A. 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.”
Both Kay and Mead were long-time Angels employees. Kay worked for the team for 24 years before leaving after Skaggs’ death. Mead worked for the Angels for 45 years, but left the team before Skaggs’ death, taking over as president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY in June 2019. He left that role (which was filled Monday with the selection of long-time Arizona Diamondbacks’ executive Josh Rawitch) in April 2021, citing family responsibilities.
Where these lawsuits will go from here isn’t easy to predict. It’s certainly possible that the Angels might look to settle, as full discovery and a trial here might lead to yet more problems for them. But there’s going to be a lot coming out anyway when it comes to Kay’s trial, as his attorney said in 2019:
In October 2019, Kay’s Newport Beach-based attorney, Michael Molfetta, called attempts to blame Kay for the death “shortsighted and misguided.”
“When all the facts come out,” Molfetta said, “I think what happened is a tragedy. … But to say it’s any one person’s fault is not right.”