Missouri court begins hearing wrongful death suit against ex-NHLer Rob Ramage

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

CLAYTON, Mo. - Ex-NHLer Rob Ramage was far over the legal limit for impairment when he was involved in a traffic accident that claimed the life of former Chicago Blackhawks star and coach Keith Magnuson, a civil court has been told.

Dan Kotin, a lawyer for Magnuson's family, said in his opening statement Tuesday that Ramage had a blood alcohol level of between 0.21 and 0.24 per cent, up to three times the legal limit in Ontario where the accident occurred.

Ramage, 48, has been convicted in an Ontario court on five charges, including impaired driving causing death, in the Dec. 15, 2003, car accident in which the 56-year-old Magnuson was killed.

Ramage is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 17 and could get up to 14 years in prison.

Magnuson was a passenger a car being driven by Ramage that crossed the centre line into oncoming traffic.

Magnuson's family later filed a wrongful death suit against Ramage, who lives in the St. Louis County town of Chesterfield.

The suit seeks damages for Magnuson's wife, son and daughter. The defendants are Ramage and National Car Rental of Canada.

Ramage and Magnuson were returning from a funeral in suburban Toronto when the accident occurred. Magnuson died at the scene. Ramage underwent surgery for a dislocated hip.

Defence lawyers Scott Harper and Beth Boggs withheld their opening statement until the plaintiffs' case is finished.

Officials said the case may go into next week.

Magnuson was a rugged defenceman for the Blackhawks from 1969-80 and coached the team for 1 1/2 seasons. He played in 589 games over 11 seasons, all with Chicago.

Ramage played in the NHL from 1979-94, totalling 139 goals and 425 assists. He captained the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1989-91. He also played for Colorado, St. Louis, Calgary, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Montreal and Philadelphia.

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