• July 17, 2013
Derek Boogaard, Dead at the Age of 28

Derek Boogaard, Dead at the Age of 28

Update (July 17, 2013): Thanks, again to Bart Torvik for passing on the NHL’s argument for why the estate of Derek Boogaard’s complaint against the NHL and others should be thrown out of court.

The NHL’s main argument is straight-forward:  NHL hockey players and their claims such as the ones that Boogaard’s estate brings in this this case are subject to a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) operates to “preempt” claims “substantially dependent upon analysis of a” CBA.

Original Post (May 28, 2013): Thank you, Bart Torvik, of Torvik Law, for providing Minnesota Litigator with the Estate of Boogaard complaint which would otherwise have been very difficult to obtain.  For those of you who do not know Bart Torvik, and, in particular, Minnesota (or any non-Illinois lawyers looking for the best for Illinois local counsel) lawyers, please see the post-script at the end of this post.

Erich Eisenegger/DLA Piper, Jon Horvath/SAC, Anil Kumar/McKinsey & Company, Derek Boogaard/NHL…

A simple (and not at all simple) question:  how does our society balance personal responsibility and organizational responsibility?

One thing is for sure:  if you could pose this question to the organizations themselves, “if these corporations could talk,” I bet they would speak with unanimity, saying in a mechanistic voice (think HAL 9000), they are pristine, blameless, literally incapable of immorality, tainted by “bad eggs” or “rogue employees — that is, weak humans — like Boogaard, Eisenegger, Horvath, and Kumar — who, parasitically feed on the corporations and weaken them.

And many humans agree with this one-sided assessment of the balance of blame.  (After all, corporations can only speak through humans.  Also, many other people fear that any dilution of the idea of “personal responsibility” would lead our culture into some kind of anarchic amoral free-for-all.)

Others, however, disagree (me and Corboy & Demetrio, among them, presumably (Boogard’s estate’s formidable law firm)).

There is no question that Derek Boogaard bore some personal responsibility for the tragedy of his violent life, his brain damage, his drug abuse, and his early death.  In my view, however, it should be as obvious that some large institutions (in this case, the NHL but many (perhaps most) others) sometimes exploit human beings, they chew them up and spit them out, and, through intentionally designed systems of incentives (express and, more often, unsaid but obvious), this exploitation is not just purposeful but, rather, it is a critical element of their business model.

To place all responsibility on the so-called “bad eggs” under such circumstances is a sham.

POST-SCRIPT:  Minnesota lawyers:  Do you need “boots on the ground” in Chicago for state or federal litigation in Illinois courts?  Look no further:  Bart Torvik, of Torvik Law.  #1 in his class at the University of Minnesota Law School and then forged in the crucible of a clerkship with U.S. District Court Judge James M. Rosenbaum (D. Minn.) and excellent experience at Dorsey & Whitney L.L.P., including several federal trials.  Why the unqualified ringing praise of Mr. Torvik? Several reasons:  (1) Because he deserves it (and you and your clients deserve this caliber of lawyer); (2) Torvik not only brings his excellent sense and legal acument to his practice, he also shares wit and insight here, which is worth your attention, and (3) Bart is a great guy.))

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