Publish date:

Tyler Skaggs’s Family Sues Angels, Former Employees Over Pitcher’s Death

The family of late Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs is suing the team and two former team employees almost two years after the pitcher died of an overdose in his hotel room while on a road trip, alleging an Angels executive was supplying drugs to multiple players.

Skaggs's widow, Carli, filed in Fort Worth, in the same county where Skaggs died, while Skaggs's parents, Darrell Skaggs and Debbie Hetman, filed in Los Angeles. The lawsuits do not specify how much money the family is seeking.

“The Angels owed Tyler Skaggs a duty to provide a safe place to work and play baseball,” the lawsuit said, per the Los Angeles Times's Nathan Fenno. “The Angels breached their duty when they allowed [former communications director Eric 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 complaint names Kay and longtime vice president of communications Tim Mead as defendants as well and accuses the team of wrongful death and negligence.

Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his Southlake, Texas, hotel room on July 1, 2019, just hours before the Angels were set to play the Rangers. 

A toxicology report revealed he had fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system. While under the influence of the three substances, Skaggs choked on his vomit and died. 

SI Recommends

The Tarrant County medical examiner's office listed his cause of death as a mixture of "alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication with a terminal aspiration of gastric contents."

Last October, a Texas federal grand jury indicted Kay on two counts in the overdose death of Skaggs. The indictment charged Kay with distributing the fentanyl that caused Skaggs's death in 2019. 

He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in mid-August. 

Mead worked for the Angels for 40 years before leaving the team in June 2019. He is accused of being “negligent in numerous ways,” including having “a duty to stop Kay’s interaction with players once he learned or should have learned that Kay was providing dangerous illegal drugs to players, including Tyler.”

In 2019, he denied to ESPN ever hearing that Skaggs was using drugs. 

"I have had a lot of conversations with Eric Kay about a lot of things, but opioids and Tyler Skaggs were not one of them," Mead told ESPN.

The Angels selected Skaggs with the 40th pick in the first round of the 2009 MLB draft. He went 28–38 with a 4.41 ERA in seven major league seasons.

"As you might expect, the decision to file these complaints has been a very difficult one for Tyler's parents and his wife," 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."