Competing was legit -- Lawyer

BOB MACKIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie resorted to character assassination because they "simply failed to make a deal" to buy the Vancouver Canucks and General Motors Place, claimed Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment's lawyer.

William Kaplan said yesterday in B.C. Supreme Court that lawyers for the jilted suitors wrongly alleged defendants Francesco Aquilini, Stan McCammon and John McCaw misled the court.

Kaplan said the plaintiffs' case lacks credibility because they have chosen to focus on the fiduciary duty they say Aquilini owed former partners Gaglardi and Beedie.

Kaplan argued none of them owed the other any loyalty or trust once Aquilini withdrew in March 2004. He said that's when the partnership, if it even existed, dissolved and the parties were free to compete with each other. He argued that this should have been obvious to Gaglardi when he turned down Aquilini's request in the summer of 2004 to return to the group in pursuit of a 20 per cent stake.

Because Aquilini's fiduciary duty had expired - as did Gaglardi's and Beedie's exclusive right to negotiate with McCaw - "it makes no difference in law whether [Aquilini] commenced [negotiations on] the 26th, 29th [of October, 2004] or 4th [of November, 2004]," Kaplan said.

Aquilini Investment Group bought half the team and arena on Nov. 5, 2004. The deal was announced 12 days later.

Closing arguments continue today.


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