Closing arguments begin

BOB MACKIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The lawyer for two men contesting the sale of the Vancouver Canucks and General Motors Place wants Justice Catherine Wedge to render a verdict which will be "impossible" for the defendants to forget.

Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie's lawyer Irwin Nathanson began closing arguments in the British Columbia Supreme Court ownership battle Monday. He claimed Francesco Aquilini, John McCaw and Stan McCammon "did a collective shuffle around the truth" with unreliable testimony marked by "an alleged absence of memory."

Gaglardi, Beedie and Aquilini joined forces in November 2003 to buy the National Hockey League team and arena from McCaw, but Aquilini left the group in March 2004.

Gaglardi and Beedie continued to negotiate with McCaw and his right-hand man McCammon, but reached an impasse at the end of October 2004. McCaw sold half the enterprise to Aquilini on Nov. 5, 2004. The transaction was announced Nov. 17, 2004.

Nathanson said the crux of the lawsuit is about "what duties continued to be imposed on Aquilini after he left the partnership." Nathanson argued the trio constituted a legal partnership or joint venture. He accused Aquilini of breaching fiduciary duty after leaving the group and illegally negotiating his own deal.

Aquilini testified early in the trial that negotiations began after his Nov. 3, 2004 dinner with McCammon. But Nathanson argued that the talks really began Oct. 26, 2004 when Aquilini and McCammon were passengers on a boat cruise. At that time, the Gaglardi/Beedie offer was still on the table, but Aquilini learned it was in jeopardy.

"Thus began the final sprint in the race for which Aquilini had been preparing for some months," Nathanson said. "The plaintiffs did not have any inkling they were in a race with their former partner."

Outside court, Aquilini said he's confident of victory. He wouldn't comment on the plaintiffs' allegations, but maintained he did a "fair deal." He bought the other half of the team and arena in a deal that closed in June.

"Our closing arguments will spell out pretty clear how much we disagree with the plaintiffs," Aquilini said.

Testimony began April 30 and ended Aug. 15. Closing arguments and rebuttals by both sides are expected to run through the end of next week. A verdict isn't expected until the New Year.


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