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Family of ex-Reno Aces pitcher Tyler Skaggs sues Angels two years after his death

Tyler Skaggs
Former Aces star Tyler Skaggs died in July 2019 in a Texas hotel room. (David Calvert/Reno Aces)

The family of former Reno Aces pitcher Tyler Skaggs is suing the Los Angeles Angels two years after his drug-related death.

The suit was filed by Skaggs' widow, Carli, in Fort Worth, Texas where Skaggs died in a hotel room on July 1, 2019. Skaggs' parents, Darrell Skaggs and Debbie Hetman, filed a separate suit in Los Angeles. The lawsuits were filed in state courts and don't specify monetary damages they are seeking. The family had until Thursday, the two-year anniversary of Skaggs' death, to filed a lawsuit under state laws.

The lawsuits also are suing Eric Kay, who ran the Angels' communications department and told authorities he regularly purchased drugs for Skaggs. Kay's former boss, Tim Mead, also was named in the suit. The lawsuit argues the Angels were negligent in allowing Kay, a longtime opioid user, to have access to players.

“The Angels owed Tyler Skaggs a duty to provide a safe place to work and play baseball,” the 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 Angels said in a statement Tuesday the lawsuits were "entirely without merit" and "the allegations are baseless and irresponsible." They vowed to vigorously defend themselves in court.

"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 Angels' 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."

ESPN reported in 2019 that Kay told the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration he provided oxycodone to five other players at Skaggs' request. The lawsuit claims the Angels' culture pushed players to play through injury with the help of drugs and should have know Skaggs was using opioids.

Skaggs, who was 27 when he died, was discovered dead in a Texas hotel room after he had asphyxiated on his own vomit. He had oxycodone, fentanyl and grain alcohol in his system, according to toxicology reports. A first-round pick in the 2009 draft, Skaggs pitched for the Reno Aces from 2012-13. He appeared in 28 games with 26 starts, posting a 2.91 ERA in 2012 and 4.59 ERA in 2013. Skaggs was a member of the Aces' 2012 Triple-A national championship team. He logged seven big-league seasons, going 28-38 with a 4.41 ERA.

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