What duty do cornermen have for fighter safety?

The latest development in the ongoing Tim Hague wrongful death lawsuit seeks to argue that a fighter's trainers owe a duty to report prior brain injury to regulators and failing to do so amounts to negligence. (HT to reporter Mike Russell)

By way of background, 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. The allegations have yet to be proven in Court.

In the latest twist the City filed a Third Party Notice against various trainers of Hague arguing they should be brought into the lawsuit as well. The City argues that Hague's training partners, trainers, and coaches knew he had a history of brain trauma and were not candid with regulators about this leading up to his fatal bout.

A Third Party Notice is basically an argument that other parties should bear responsibility for any proven wrongdoing and thus should be added to the lawsuit and share in the financial repercussion of provable wrongdoing.

These are novel allegations. The City hopes to escape blame but if they are liable they hope to spread some of the fault to these individuals close to Hague. These allegations have not been proven in Court but raise novel questions about what legal duty, if any, a fighters trainers have in allowing them to compete. Ultimately a regulator has the mandated authority to make health and safety decisions and passing blame will not be an easy task. Many of these allegations against the trainers are the mandated duties of regulators. Time will tell if this latest strategy has any merit.

Among the City's accusations of trainer negligence are the following:


Source: Combat Sports Law blog