Former Angels’ director of communications Eric Kay has been charged with possession and intent to distribute fentanyl, the drug that was the catalyst in the death of Tyler Skaggs.
Recall that Kay’s testimony to law enforcement included both admissions to securing drugs for Tyler and a denial that he procured the drugs that ultimately killed Tyler. It was also his testimony that cast Tim Mead into question. In short, he is a very key player in this saga and it is possible that this may be the first of several happenings related to such distribution.
According to court documents, Kay allegedly distributed these pills to Skaggs “and others in their place of employment and while they were working.” Additionally, text messages between Skaggs and Kay confirm the intention to distribute the pill(s).
Key paragraph in court documents regarding Eric Kay and Tyler Skaggs: Kay allegedly distributed pills to Skaggs and others “in their place of employment and while they were working.” pic.twitter.com/BXaiqqsriF— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) August 7, 2020
In an official statement, the Angels allege that no one in management was aware of such conduct.
Statement regarding the recent developments in the Tyler Skaggs investigation: pic.twitter.com/fI0b3i3pba— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 7, 2020
More details to follow on this story as developments unfold…
Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons
Here’s a link to the criminal complaint : https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/press-release/file/1302771/download It’s a pdf from the department of justice webpage.
Bear in mind that Mr. Kay is NOT charged with causing the death of Tyler Skaggs. The charge is possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. With other substances found and tox tests obtained, a solid issue exists about whether the substance alleged to have been distributed by Kay was the proximate cause of death. Alcohol and oxy were also found. The complaint says that Kay did NOT provide the pink oxys. I didn’t notice anything about who obtained the alcohol which also played a part.
It’s one of the paragraphs from the complaint which gets me. Alleged that “…Kay would distribute these [blue m/30] pills to [Tyler Skaggs] AND OTHERS IN THEIR PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT and WHILE THEY WERE WORKING.” (Emphasis added by caps.)
“Others” is a little too intentionally vague for my liking. Are they protecting players by not identifying them or slandering players with vague innuendo?
Nothing good ever seems to come from Angel games in Texas.
Not able to post the underlined screen shot of from the complaint. It’s in pargraph 21 in the link I provided above.
Somewhere along the line l missed Tim Mead’s involvement in this mess. l will be most shocked if Tim Mead has a part in the story and it lead to dissolution of employment. Tyler is dead from drugs administered for a surgery while working for team. For pain management opioids were prescribed and with bad management by the doctor. As he began a history of using. becoming hooked makes it easier to use and go down and yet
Not exclusively an Angels problem but I’d like to know if the horrible “luck” we have with pitchers has something to do with opioid abuse.
I know this is slightly off-topic, and please forgive my ignorance, but I don’t understand why so many Angel fans adore and sympathize with Tyler Skaggs yet they condemn and despise Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton is an abusive asshole, who happens to be an addict. Skaggs was a really nice guy, who happened to be an addict.
I missed the story about Hamilton hitting his daughter. Now this makes sense.
in addition Hamilton ended up on the DL, acted snottily about the Angels, got sent to Texas where he didn’t play but continued to get paid by the Angels, then quit once the contract was up, knowing all the while that he wouldn’t play, plus he’s a self-righteous “Christian” (one who claims to follow Christ but doesn’t).
IMO it’s because Skaggs (besides being local and an Angels draftee) was a good person who did a bad thing. Hamilton IMO was a bad person who did a lot of bad things. Kept getting forgiven and then did more bad things. His story is inspiring but also enlightening to see that the drugs weren’t exactly what ruined his life: Josh Hamilton’s nature was.
Bingo. Nothing was ever Josh’s fault, ever, then he’d play the victim card every time. I get it, addiction sucks, but the people who actually own their behavior and learn from it are able to move on in life. Hamilton never did either.
Because Tyler was probably a painkiller addict as opposed to Josh Hamilton who was using street drugs. Tyler might have been a week or two away from going back on the IL ( the heavy stress and pressure to return to playing in any sport is very real ).
lucky for the Angels they’re not being sued/tried with me on the jury because I have pre-judged them and believe this was known to team officials. Of course if there *were* a situation where I was called as part of a jury pool I’d be dismissed pretty quickly.
I nearly ended up serving on a jury two years ago and they dismissed people for much less, haha.
Of course they knew. At least all they way up to Kay’s boss.
This has to be a common in these situations. Better to have your dealer on property, than have the player hunting for a fix on the streets.
I would think the Angels, actually this sounds status quo for our team, they would have chosen someone lower in the organization, maybe not an employee, and without previously going to rehab, but they are the Angels.
Now to find out the others with knowledge. They will come out in the Civil Trials. Manfred is going to busy real soon. Controlled substances being passed around the workplace like candy. I wonder how Are is going to be protected here? This is why the big dogs never visit the clubhouse.
What does the phrase ivory tower mean?
noun. a place or situation remote from worldly or practical affairs: the university as an ivory tower. an attitude of aloofness from or disdain or disregard for worldly or practical affairs: his ivory tower of complacency. Dictionary.com
I think Mead probably did know but my sense is that opioids are extremely common in USA and doctors prescribe them way too freely. As such, players taking them is likely very common at every team and the Angels have probably had countless players prescribed them with no signs of abuse.
So Skaggs using pain killers probably didn’t raise alarm bells organizationally and get ran up the flag pole the way it would if it was a street drug like Hamilton was known for. That’s my gut feeling but nothing would surprise me with this management team.
Looks like Mr. Kay will be spending some time in federal prison, where he hopefully can stay clean there ( no guarantees when it comes to addicts and their ingenuity and drive to get those drugs for that momentary high) and he can salvage his life after being released. This sounds like it is not over yet and other names and issues may pop up over the next year or so. Uggghh, it reminds me of past friends in the LA/OC punk scene who died from opiates (heroin).
Well – if Kay was in the course and scope of employment while he distributed the drugs to Skaggs (ie the ones that killed him) – Angels are on the hook no matter if they knew due to vicarious liability. Employers are liable for their employee’s tortious acts if they occur within the scope of employment. It’s called Respondeat Superior.
That said, it may be difficult to prove to a reasonable degree of certainty that the pills that killed Skaggs were given to him by Kay. That’s a causation defense that might benefit the Angels in the civil lawsuit. Those text messages may be enough to establish causation in a civil case where the burden of proof is lower than in a criminal case.
In a civil case, Skaggs comparative negligence for seeking out and taking drugs would also be at issue. Any comparative negligence on Skaggs would reduce by that % the value of his family’s wrongful death case.
Regardless, these criminal charges and text messages may be enough to get the civil case to settle. If Kay’s acts can be viewed as negligence (ie negligently giving Skaggs too many pills or negligently trying to help Skaggs with pain) liability insurance would be accessible which might help get the case settled.
Phenomenal stuff. Thanks.
As a general rule, intentional torts are considered to be outside the course and scope of employment. The Angels are not vicariously liable simply because Kay gave Skaggs drug while at work. The Angels would be vicariously liable if they knew about the activities and didn’t stop it or created a work environment that encouraged it.
The Angels could also be directly liable for negligent supervision and hiring if they should have known that Kay was likely to distribute drugs to Skaggs. There will probably be enough for a civil suit against the Angels that will probably settle.
Negligence is not an intentional tort. The civil case will contain allegations against Kay for many things including negligence. He clearly did not intend to cause harm. So any good Plaintiff lawyer will include negligence, negligent hiring and negligent supervision as causes of action. If any of those negligent causes of action are successful, the Angels are civilly liable regardless of knowledge. I think their defense team is likely focusing on the value of the case and Skagg’s comparative liability since those are much more viable issues than the Angel’s knowledge.
The key thing with knowledge may be punitive damages which are not covered by insurance.
Sort of. The Plaintiff lawyer will include causes of action for negligence, but the Angels can defend against vicarious liability by claiming the conduct was intentional. Note he is charged with possession and intent to distribute fentanyl. If he is convicted of that (by definition beyond a reasonable doubt) it would be dispositive in the civil case of intent v. negligence.
However, the Angels can still be liable for negligent hiring and supervision even if they are not vicariously liable.
Hard to say, could depend on Kay’s job title. If it was unofficially accepted within the team that he’s the “guy who gets whatever the players need”, that could be seen as ratification. And there might be evidence to prove that the Angels knew about it beyond a reasonable doubt.
That would be the worst case scenario. The Angels could still be liable but the insurance could refuse to cover it.
(Which is another reason the case will settle. Moreno will be insisting the insurance pay a large settlement because if it goes to trial he could get stuck with paying it all himself).
Beyond a reasonable doubt is the criminal burden of proof. The civil burden is to a “preponderance of the evidence” which means 50.1%.
The real risk to the Angels is punitive damages where knowledge and ratification is key.
The Angels would way prefer this to be negligence since insurance coverage would apply.
Yes yes obviously, but I was assuming the Angels would get charged here.
Oh I don’t think the Angels will be charged criminally. It’s all about civil liability for the team and Moreno. The most I could see with regard to the team would be punitive damages which are not covered by insurance. That is where the knowledge and ratification would come into play.
Yes – agreed. Negligent Supervision and Hiring would be direct liability not vicarious liability.
The Plaintiff lawyer will argue (among other things) negligence (for example that Kay negligently was trying to help Skaggs with pain) in order to trigger vicarious liability and insurance coverage.
So the Angels could be found directly liable or vicariously liable or both. That exposure will likely cause the case to settle particularly if insurance is providing coverage (which it would for negligence).
Such a sad situation all around. It’s a shame that both didn’t seek help when they needed it. Drug addiction is a terrible disease and ruins lives.
The future of the franchise hangs in the balance… the only thing the Angels have going for them here si that Eric Kay is a liar. His whole existence was a lie He lied to the people who helped him out and got him into rehab out of a sense of moral obligation to help the destitute. Sad to think that if the Angles had fired him after learning we was a pathetic loser junkie that they would be far better off. We are taught to assist the needy but the cunning evil of the truly, deeply lost addict destroys that charitable urge and boomerangs it back into the face of those most willing to help. Tragic.
Isn’t that a flawed construct of our current society, due to a sudden absence of expectations of personal responsibility?
I wrote a piece at some now defunct site that Kay’s testimony alone was not enough, that he had obvious motives for setting the narrative, that people on the hot seat generally try to save their own asses. It was taken down as conjecture by the overlords.
He’ll play the addiction angle, as he should. And I believe in help over jail in most cases. But he’s had help, far more than the guy struggling with addiction and rent while working at Home Depot. So my sympathy is slim.
I’m not sure this affects the franchises future. If Kay’s conduct was intentional, the Angels aren’t vicariously liable. If Kay’s conduct was negligent, insurance will pay for it. If the Angels were negligent in hiring and supervising Kay, insurance will cover that to.
The only way this comes out of Moreno’s pocket (and the team payroll) is if Kay’s conduct was intentional (so insurance won’t pay) but still within the scope and course of employment because the Angels knew about the conduct and approved it.
Correct re insurance and the analysis. Unless Moreno doesn’t have sufficient insurance coverage and excess coverage which I highly doubt.
With Skaggs career earning potential and non-economic damages factored in, the case is probably worth $50-$60 million soaking wet. Take 50% off for Skaggs comparative negligence and the case probably has a settlement value of $25-$30 million. I’d be surprised if Moreno doesn’t have a tower of insurance that exceeds that.
So it probably never reaches Arte financially except for significantly increased insurance premiums going forward.
Thanks for breaking down the comparative negligence thing. I did not know anything like that existed.
My pleasure. Just as a bit more detail if you are interested, the jury in its deliberations would be asked to assess Skaggs % of responsibility for his own death. The jury can apply anything from 0% to 100%.
In my example- the jury finds Skaggs 50% comparatively negligent. But it could be any percentage. And then that percentage gets applied against the verdict.
To settle the case, the parties will have to come to a some basic agreement on a range which will factor in Skaggs career earnings potential, loss of love and companionship and other non-economic damages as well as funeral expenses. Then they will argue about what % of fault is on Tyler. Plaintiffs will argue for a low %, the defense will argue for a high %. Eventually they are likely to compromise the issue and settle the case.
Cool. I always love learning new things, especially insights into topical subjects. Keep them coming as the study unfolds.
Never thought of it that way.
“We gave him a second chance[pats on back] Kay relapsed, and did all of this behind our backs.”
It’s amazing how people think throwing addicts in jail for a really long time is the answer here. I don’t want to speak for Skaggs, but I doubt this is what he would have wanted. Opioids are serious stuff, these people need help, not jail. Besides, jail time costs the taxpayers a tremendous amount of money, the resolution here is everyone loses, yet people cheer for this.
He will get a slap on the wrist for the drug dealing and the being a loser junkie.
BUT he will get sent to the hole for a long while for lying to the feds.
You can treat the addiction but you can’t treat the flawed sociopathic personalities that lie as a way of getting through life.
Fair enough. I guess I’m not educated enough on all aspects of the situation. What did he lie about?
What lies? He admitted to going by Tyler’s room that night.
I’m assuming his claim he didn’t do any drugs that night are a lie. An addict offered a free high doesn’t say no.
But what else?
No coincidence they announce this the day the team flies into Arlington. Homers trying to bring us down.
Certainly bad timing for this to come out. Going to bring up some wounds.
the clubhouse is their place of employment. Not shocked a guy with a drug habit and affinity for athletes would manage to parlay his connections in such a manner. Not shocked athletes like pain pills.
The multi million dollar question here is whether the Angels franchise turned a blind eye. Arte’s wallet and reputation greatly depend on that answer.