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Derek Boogard's family says union failed to claim his salary

Houston sports fans likely remember when the NHL's Derek Boogaard died in May 2011 in a drug and alcohol related accident. The hockey enforcer, 28, was one of the league's highest paid players and many were saddened by his untimely death while he was still participating in the league's substance-abuse program.

Boogard's family has now filed an interesting lawsuit that touches on several employment law issues. The lawsuit accuses the NHL players union of ruining his family's chances to file a claim for the remainder of Boogard's multi-million dollar contract after his death.

According to the lawsuit, the union failed to meet a deadline to file the claim and it thus lost the family $5 million.

Whether the remainder of an employment contract can be paid to one's family members after death depends on the stipulations in the contract as well as other legal issues.

This lawsuit also contends that the Minnesota Wild and Rangers, for which Boogard played, contributed to his death because team doctors repeatedly prescribed him painkillers despite being aware of his addiction to painkillers.

Because the players union ran the substance abuse program in which Boogard was enrolled at the time if his death, it could be suggested that some sort of conflict of interest led the players union to fail to file the salary claim on time.

The lawsuit requests $5 million in damages and $4.8 million in salary.

This is a very complicated lawsuit that touches on a number of legal employment issues--from union involvement and responsibility, to contract and wage concerns, to workers' compensation and more. It will be important that this family has knowledgeable legal counsel as they continue to navigate this claim.

Source: The New York Times, "Boogaard Lawsuit May Shake Up Hockey," Jeff Z. Klein, Sept. 26, 2012

  • Our firm handles employment law cases involving employment contracts, pension, benefits and compensation disputes, among other legal issues. Visit our Houston Fair Labor Standards Act page to learn more.

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