Hockey

Magnuson wrongful death lawsuit begins in Missouri

Former National Hockey League defenceman Rob Ramage is back in court this week in the United States as the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Former National Hockey League defenceman Rob Ramage is back in court, this time in the United States as the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit.

In October, Ramage was found guilty of five charges stemming from a fatal auto collision in 2003 that killed one-time Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Keith Magnuson.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Maguson's family and began Tuesday in St. Louis County Circuit Court. It seeks damages for Magnuson's wife, son and daughter. National Car Rental of Canada is the other defendant.

Ramage, who lives in Chesterfield, Miss., underwent hip surgery after the rented Chrysler Intrepid he allegedly was driving veered into traffic and struck two vehicles near Vaughn, Ont., just north of Toronto.

The most serious conviction — impaired driving causing death — carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. Ramage will be sentenced Jan. 17.

Dan Kotin, a lawyer for Magnuson's family, said in his opening statement Tuesday that Ramage had a blood alcohol level of between 0.21 and 0.24 per cent, up to three times the legal limit in Ontario.

Magnuson, a passenger in the Intrepid, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ramage, who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1989 to 1991, was also charged with:

  • Impaired driving causing bodily harm.
  • Two counts of dangerous driving causing death.
  • Having a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit.

A York police report alleged Ramage and Magnuson were en route to a players' alumni meeting after attending the funeral of former NHL forward and union executive Keith McCreary, who died of cancer at age 63 on Dec. 9, 2003.

Ramage posted 139 goals and 564 points with 2,224 penalty minutes in 1,044 NHL games after being drafted first overall by the Colorado Rockies in 1979.

With files from the Canadian Press