Update August 13, 2019 – KO Boxing, the promoter for the bout in question and co-Defendant in the lawsuit have now filed their Statement of Defense. They conclude with the following position:
“At the time of the Braidwood fight, the Deceased was an adult with the capacity to make decisions affecting his health and safety, and was an experienced fighter. The Deceased was fully aware of the risks necessarily inherent in combative sports, and expressly and implicitly agreed to assume full and exclusive legal responsibility for those risks.
The Deceased and KO Boxing entered into a written Boxing Agreement dated June 1, 2017, which included the following clause (Clause 10)
10) The FIGHTER, heirs, dependants or any others, waives all liabilities to the promoter, facility, local Boxing Commission, and local civil authorities, that may result in any injury to the fighter as a result of his participation in this event.
In the event that Clause 10, above, is found to be ambiguous, the Deceased wrote a text to KO Boxing shortly before signing the Boxing Agreement, stating ‘Freak accidents happen once in a while, I accept that when I sign the contract“.
A full copy of their filing can be found here – Hague KO Boxing Statement of Defense
Defences have been filed in reply to the Hague family’s wrongful death suit.
Tim Hague, a former UFC fighter, died from brain trauma after a boxing bout on June 16, 2017 in Edmonton Alberta. He was clearly outmatched being knocked down 3 times in the first round with an arguable 4th knockdown that the referee deemed a slip.
In the second round Hague was dropped for a fourth official time and allowed to continue. Shortly thereafter the final knockout blow landed. He died in the following days.
Hague had a history of recent brain trauma prior to the bout. He suffered a series of recent combative sports losses by KO and TKO.
Serious questions arose regarding the regulation of this bout and Hauge’s suitability to be licenced. In June of 2019 the Hague family named numerous parties in a wrongful death lawsuit including the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission (the “ECSC”), Pat Reid who was the Executive Director of the ECSC at the time, David Aitken who allegedly was responsible for Reid’s hiring, Len Koivisto who was the referee for the bout along with two ringside physicians and the promoter of the event.
On August 9, 2019 the City filed a Statement of Defence denying all liability. Among the defences raised by the City of Edmonton are allegations that they cannot be sued because of waivers they required fighters to sign prior to competition.
The City hopes to rely on a waiver, limited statutory protection and even goes so far as to allege that as a regulator they owe no ‘duty of care‘ to combatants that they regulate.
As previously discussed, the waiver issue will play a central role in the lawsuit. I would expect the Hague family to argue that the waiver needs to be set aside as there is no legal consideration for it. A waiver is a contract and for a contract to be effective the protected side must give something of value to the party waiving their rights. The City suggests that by regulating a fight they are providing a fighter something of value. The flaw in this reasoning is the commission is already being paid to do its job. It can also be argued that the City is looking to secure more immunity than the Province granted them under section 535 of the Municipal Government Act which only limits liability in circumstances where the City is acting in “good faith“. If the waiver defence fails the claim will be, barring settlement, adjudicated on its merits.
The full defence can be found here – Hague City of Edmonton Defence
I will continue to follow this story with further updates of any meaningful developments.