The family of Tim Hague, the Edmonton boxer who died during a match almost two years ago, is suing the City of Edmonton and several other parties for about $5.3 million.
A statement of claim was filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton on Friday, just ahead of a two-year filing deadline.
The lawsuit alleges the failures and negligence of the defendants caused or contributed to the death of Tim Hague. It criticizes the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission’s handling of fight and medical records, as well as the conduct of referees and ringside physicians on the night of the fight.
The suit singles out the city for what it calls the “negligent hiring and retention” of the commission’s former executive director Pat Reid.
Hague died on June 18, 2017, two days after sustaining a traumatic brain injury during a boxing match at the Edmonton Conference Centre, which was then known as the Shaw Conference Centre.
He was knocked down three times in the first round, before an uppercut from opponent Adam Braidwood left him unconscious during the second round.
Braidwood was not named as a defendant in the suit.
The claim alleges the referee’s failure to call off the fight caused or contributed to Hague’s death. The ringside physicians also didn’t offer appropriate medical care after the fight or refer Hague to hospital in a timely manner, according to the lawsuit.
The claim goes on to say the commission should have suspended Hague ahead of the deadly match because of his medical and fight history. The failure to collect that information about Hague before the match contributed to his death, the suit alleges.
The event didn’t have appropriate emergency plans, adequate medical staff or enough ambulances at the event, according to the lawsuit.
It also names the corporation that owns the conference centre and boxing promoter, K.O. Boxing Canada, as defendants.
The defendants failed to follow appropriate knockout protocols, “and if such protocols were followed, the damage sustained by Tim Hague would have been lessened and his life would have been saved,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit alleges Reid, former executive director of the commission, failed to report fighter suspensions to boxer databases. He also allegedly allowed fighters to compete in combative sports while medically suspended by another jurisdiction.
Reid allegedly failed to report two of Hague’s mixed-martial arts fights — one in December 2015 and another in March 2016.
If those results had been forwarded and made accessible, “a reasonable sports commission would not have licensed Tim Hague to compete in combative events allowing him to sustain additional trauma that ultimately resulted in or contributed to his death,” the suit reads.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and the statement of defence has not been filed.
The 2017 match prompted a three-month ban on combative sports in Edmonton. A third-party report, commissioned by the city and released later that year, found multiple policies were not followed during the fight.
The report, which didn’t make findings of fault or legal responsibility, also called for tougher rules around medical suspensions on all fighters who sustain head injuries and recommends a provincial commission be set up to oversee combative sports.
Alberta is the only province that puts combative sports commissions under municipal jurisdiction.