UFC veteran Tim Hague died on June 18th, 2017 after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a boxing match held at the Edmonton Conference Centre in Edmonton, AB, Canada. He was 34 years old.
Shortly after Hague’s death questions arose about the Edmonton Combat Sports Commission’s (ECSC) regulations and licensing practices. Those questions came from both the MMA media-sphere (see Mike Russell) and mainstream news (see CTV Edmonton).
Last week, CBC News reported that Tim Hague’s family had launched a wrongful death lawsuit seeking over around $5.3million CAD in damages. The lawsuit names the Edmonton Combative Sports Council, the City of Edmonton, and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation as some of the defendants.
Other defendants listed in the lawsuit include Pat Reid (who was the Executive Director of the ECSC at the time of Hague’s death), Len Kovisto (who was the referee for Hague’s final fight — versus Adam Braidwood), Dr. Shelby Karpman and Dr Shirdi Nullah (who are named as ringside physicians for Hague vs. Braidwood), David Aitken (a City employee who is believed to have hired Pat Reid), and K.O. Boxing Canada (the promotion responsible for Hague vs. Braidwood).
The lawsuit claims that failures and negligence by these defendants caused or contributed to the death of Hague.
The lawsuit, which is available to read online on CombatSportsLaw.com (via Mike Russell), outlines each of the defendants’ alleged malfeasance.
The lawsuit alleges that the “City, the ECSC, Reid, and/or Karpman” failed to institute ECSC safety policies, thus endangering Hague, over a two year stretch that included nine MMA, boxing, or super-boxing contests. Hague suffered a number of losses in those contests via knockout or technical knockout as a result of blows to the head.
Particular policy breaches alleged by the lawsuit include allowing Hague to participate in combat sports when he should have been serving a medical suspension, failing to ensure that Hague was medically cleared to compete, and failing to enforce suspension on Hague.
Additionally the lawsuit alleges that Reid breached ECSC bylaws by failing to forward results of Hague’s fights to relevant governing bodies. Hague’s family believe that if these results had been forwarded appropriately then other combat sports commissions would have not licensed Hague to compete and that Hague would have sustained less accumulative trauma leading up to his fatal bout with Braidwood.
The lawsuit makes a special request that Reid’s alleged actions by considered criminally negligent and accuses him of showing a “wanton and reckless disregard for the life and safety of Tim Hague.”
Regarding the ringside physicians and referee, the lawsuit alleges that those individuals had justification to stop the fight before Hague received a final flooring blow that ended the contest. The lawsuit alleges that Kovisto is responsible for “gross negligence” in not calling an end to the fight sooner than he did.
The lawsuit also alleges that ringside physicians failed to review or request appropriate medical documentation regarding Hague’s fitness to participate in combat sports.
In its argument for the defendant’s alleged negligence, the lawsuit also revealed that an autopsy on Hague had uncovered that he had developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
That condition, which is caused by blows to the head (with or without symptoms associated with concussions), is recognizable by areas of decayed brain tissue caused by the clumping of tau protein. That process, which is extremely similar to what has been observed in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers, causes symptoms that include, but are not limited to, depression, impulsivity, memory loss, aggression, cognitive delays, and increased risk of suicidiality.
The plaintiffs are seeking $5,268,000 CAD ($3,969,964 USD) for a long list of damages, which include bereavement, funeral costs, grief counseling, and loss of love, guidance, and support. $1 million CAD of those damages accounts for the punitive damages sought by the plaintiffs.