Parents of Late 'Jeopardy!' Champion Brayden Smith Say His Death Was 'Preventable', File Lawsuit

The parents of the late Jeopardy! champion Brayden Smith — who died unexpectedly at age 24 in 2020 ahead of the show's Tournament of Champions, which he was expected to compete in — are suing the hospital where he underwent surgery prior to his death. Debbie and Scott Smith's malpractice lawsuit claims that Brayden's death was "preventable."

Smith's five-game stint on Jeopardy! was the final great winning streak of Alex Trebek's hosting career; Trebek died in November 2020 and Smith's episodes aired in December 2020 and January 2021, just weeks ahead of his death in February. Smith's mother confirmed his death in a tweet last February without revealing his cause of death. At the time, Las Vegas CBS station KLAS reported that he died from complications from a surgery he underwent days before his death for an undisclosed condition.


Debbie and Scott Smith's lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, lists two Nevada physicians as well as Dignity Health and St. Rose Dominican Hospital – San Martin Campus as defendants. "His last days were a nightmare. His death was preordained by the misconduct of doctors and nurses. None of this had to be," reads the lawsuit obtained by E! News.

The suit alleges that Smith underwent surgery to remove his colon on Jan. 15, 2021, but "was never given heparin or anticoagulants post-surgery which was below the standard of care." The suit also alleges that the medication would have prevented the pulmonary emboli, a type of blood clot, that contributed to his death on Feb. 5, 2021.

Additionally, the lawsuit claims that Smith "suffered severe and extreme physical pain and suffering prior to his death," which was a "direct and proximate result of the negligence of Defendants." The filing added, "This is a very sad case about a young man whose death was preventable."

"Had a doctor or a nurse checked to make sure anticoagulants were actually ordered and given, Brayden would be alive," the Smith family's attorney, Robert E. Murdock, told E! News. "But this case is not just about death. Brayden suffered before he died because the hospital, its nurses, and the home health nurse, failed to teach and take care of this young man with a new Ostomy."

The Smiths are suing for damages and legal fees, noting that they've incurred expenses for their son's medical care, treatment and funeral costs, in addition to experiencing "emotional distress and pain and suffering as a result of the untimely death of their son."


Brayden won $115,798 during his five-game run on Jeopardy! He was lovingly dubbed "Billy Buzzsaw" by Trebek and was looking forward to the Tournament of Champions, according to his obituary in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Tournament of Champions has been my favorite tournament every year since I was a kid. These people are sort of my trivia idols and to know that I'm gonna be on the same metaphorical and literal stage that they were on is really something special," Smith said in a Jeopardy! interview posted on social media.