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Jury awards $9.5 million to Magnuson's family

11/30/2007 - NHL

CLAYTON, Mo. -- A jury awarded $9.5 million Friday to the
family of former Chicago Blackhawks star Keith Magnuson in a
wrongful-death lawsuit against former NHL player Rob Ramage, whose
drunken driving accident left Magnuson dead.

Magnuson's wife and two children filed the suit against Ramage and National Car Rentals of Canada.

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

In closing arguments, attorneys for the Magnuson family suggested a range of compensation of $25 million to $33 million. The jury deliberated about two hours.

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

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

Ramage's attorney, 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 was convicted in October in Ontario of impaired driving causing death and four other charges. He could get up to 15 years in prison at sentencing on Jan. 17.

Magnuson was a rugged defenseman for the Blackhawks from 1969-80 and coached the team for 1½ seasons. He played in 589 games over 11 seasons, all with Chicago.

The 48-year-old Ramage, of 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 Magnusons' 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."

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.