Jury awards $9.5 million to Magnuson family in lawsuit involving Ramage

CLAYTON, Mo. – A St. Louis County jury on Friday awarded US$9.5 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit involving former NHL player Rob Ramage, whose drunk-driving accident in Ontario in 2003 resulted in the death of former Chicago Blackhawks star Keith Magnuson.

Magnuson’s wife and two children filed the suit against Ramage and National Car Rentals of Canada. The jury deliberated about two hours.

Magnuson, 56, was a passenger in the rental car driven by Ramage on Dec. 15, 2003. The car was involved in a head-on collision in suburban Toronto as the men were returning from a funeral. Magnuson died at the scene.

Ramage, 48, has been convicted in an Ontario court on five charges, including impaired driving causing death. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 17 and could get up to 14 years in prison.

In closing arguments, lawyers for the Magnuson family suggested a range of compensation of $25 million to $33 million.

“I thought it was a fair result,” said Grant Davis, a lawyer for the Magnuson family. “We believe justice has been served and this will bring closure to a horrible tragedy.”

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Beth Boggs, lawyer for National Car, told the jury a verdict of $2.5 million would provide fair compensation for the family.

Ramage’s lawyer, Scott Harper, made a brief statement telling jurors at the end of the case, “Rob accepts responsibility for the death of Keith Magnuson and awaits your verdict.”

Ramage, from Chesterfield, Mo., did not attend the four-day trial.

In a written statement, the Magnuson family said it is forming the Keith Magnuson Charitable Foundation “to make something positive come out of this horrible tragedy.”

As for Ramage, the family statement read, “Rob Ramage is a good man who made a mistake.

“We forgive Rob for the accident and we hope nothing but the best for him and his family.”

Magnuson was a rugged defenceman for the Blackhawks from 1969-80 and coached the team for 1 1/2 seasons. He played in 589 games over 11 seasons, all with Chicago.

Ramage played in the NHL from 1979-94, totaling 139 goals and 425 assists. He captained the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1989-91. He also played for Colorado, St. Louis, Calgary, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Montreal and Philadelphia.