There are two separate civil lawsuits being brought by Skaggs’ widow, Carli Skaggs in California, and his parents Darrell and Debbie Skaggs in Texas, for negligence, wrongful death, as well as negligent hiring and supervision. Skaggs was discovered dead in his hotel room on July 1st, 2019, just ahead of a three-game series with the Texas Rangers. The coroner concluded that he had choked on his vomit, and found alcohol, fentanyl, and oxycodone during the autopsy.
One of the main defendants named in the lawsuit is the Angels’ former director of communications, Eric Kay. The family alleges Kay was a quintessential part of Skaggs’ death and says Kay distributed the illegal drugs that caused his overdose. During the 2019 investigation following Skaggs’ death, it was reported that Kay had told officials that he had given oxycodone to Skaggs, and tipped the organization to Skaggs’ usage as early as 2017. However, former vice president of communications and another main defendant, Tim Mead, denied having any knowledge of Skaggs’ drug usage prior to his death. Kay was charged in 2020 with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl to Skaggs and other unnamed players. He pled guilty to those charges and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He is scheduled for trial in August.
The lawsuit brought by Carli Skaggs says the Angels “breached their duty when they allowed Kay, a drug addict, complete access to Tyler.” She also says the organization failed to provide Skaggs with a “safe place to work and play baseball.” Additionally, she claims the Angels “should have known Kay was dealing drugs to players,” and says Skaggs’ death was a direct result of the negligence she alleges was displayed by the team.
In response, the Angels have issued a statement disagreeing with the lawsuits, calling the claims, “without merit,” and the allegations, “baseless and irresponsible.” The statement also claims the independent investigation done by the organization in 2019 by a federal prosecutor concluded the Angels had no knowledge of Skaggs’ opioid use.