Former NHLer Steve Moore and his parents are suing Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks for $19.5 million -- just as the hockey star and his Olympic teammates begin their gold medal quest.
Moore is seeking $15 million in lost wages, $1 million in aggravated damages and another $2 million in punitive damages, according to a statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior court on Tuesday.
His parents, Jack and Anna Moore, are asking for $1.5 million for "negligent infliction of nervous shock and mental distress," caused when they watched the attack on their son on television and then the numerous replays.
Bertuzzi jumped on the back of the Colorado Avalanche forward and drove him face-first into the ice during a March 8, 2004, game in Vancouver.
Moore, then 25, was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken neck by the force of the blow -- which the suit alleges was a "completely premeditated, unprovoked, unwarranted and unprecedented action."
The statement of claim is a list of unproven allegations made by the Moores and their lawyer, Tim Danson, against Bertuzzi. They have not been proven in court.
Danson said yesterday the timing of the suit had nothing to do with the Olympics and everything to do with the legal time limit running out on his client.
"Steve Moore had no control over the timing of the incident," Danson said. "This was our (legal) limitation period. We had two years from the date, according to our theory of the case."
They suit alleges a conspiracy to injure Moore led by Bertuzzi dating back to Feb. 16, 2004, game when Moore injured Canucks captain Markus Naslund with an elbow.
Moore was not penalized on the play but the suit alleges a series of public threats made by "Bertuzzi, who was the Canucks' team leader and self-appointed avenger of Naslund."
Danson said he wasn't commenting on the specific allegations, saying he would have preferred no one found out about the suit.
A similar suit filed last year in Colorado was thrown out by a court in that state because, the court said, it should be filed in Canada. The Moores are now filing in Ontario because this is where they live, Danson said.
"Moore was fortunate not to be killed or rendered paraplegic by Bertuzzi," the statement of claim says. "Such a tragic outcome should not be necessary before unlawful violence is removed from the game of hockey."
Moore's injuries still prevent him from resuming his hockey career and put him "at an increased risk of developing premature epilepsy, dementia or Alzheimer's disease," the document says.
Bertuzzi was reinstated to the NHL in August after being indefinitely suspended and missing 13 regular-season games and the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2004, giving up about $502,000 US in salary. He is due to earn about $5.2 million US this season.
He faced up to 18 months in prison after Vancouver authorities charged him with assault. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation and community service.