February 16, 2012
Secret agreement impacts Bertuzzi-Moore suit
By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Superior Court of Ontario has given lawyers defending Todd Bertuzzi, Marc Crawford and the former owners of the Vancouver Canucks seven days to produce a secret agreement they signed that essentially absolves each of them of blame and counter-suits in the multi-million dollar civil claim by former hockey player Steve Moore.
Master Ronald Dash has ordered Bertuzzi, Crawford and Orca Bay Hockey Ltd., to turn over the agreement signed by all principles in July, 2011, that was negotiated and agreed upon without informing Moore’s counsel, Tim Dansen.
A copy of the agreement is to be sent to the court, and another to Dansen, but the agreement between the three parties will not be made public for reasons not explained in Thursday’s decision.
Dansen had brought the matter to court in a motion last month, after accidentally learning that the secret agreement had been reached.
Dansen found this out, according to court documents, only after sending Crawford’s attorney a letter. Crawford’s attorney responding by informing Dansen he was no longer part of the case because Crawford was no longer involved.
In the signed agreement, which Dash called “circumspect,” the three parties being sued by Moore and his parents, Steve and Anna Moore, all dropped counter-claims against each other. In other words, Bertuzzi agreed to drop his suit against his former coach Crawford and against the former owners of the Canucks, and each agreed to drop suits against the current Detroit Red Wings winger. A deal of some kind was made: What can’t be determined here and won’t be made public is what kind of settlement was made by all parties in this matter, and Dash didn’t like how that might affect the upcoming case.
“In my view, the agreement has changed the landscape of the litigation,” Dash wrote in his ruling. Dash also seemed unhappy that the defendants in the case “refused or neglected” to inform Moore’s lawyer, Dansen, on the change in status.
The Moore-Bertuzzi matter, dating back to the high-profile career-ending injury of the former Colorado Avalanche player in 2004, finally will get to court in the fall. The case, which is certain to feature testimony from Leafs general manager Brian Burke, his assistant Dave Nonis and numerous other hockey luminaries, is set to begin on Sept. 24, unless Bertuzzi isn’t playing in the NHL next season. If he happens to retire and not get a new contract, which is unlikely, the trial would then begin on Oct. 12.