TORONTO - Lawyers for Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks have lost an appeal to keep confidential the details of a deal struck last year pertaining to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Bertuzzi by former NHL player Steve Moore.
Moore's civil lawsuit for damages and lost wages stems from an incident during a game on March 8, 2004, in Vancouver between the Canucks and the Colorado Avalanche. Bertuzzi, then with the Canucks, attacked Colorado's Moore from behind and punched him in the side of the head, driving him to the ice. Moore suffered three broken vertebrae, deep facial cuts and never played in the NHL again.
The ugly incident was in retaliation to a hit Moore delivered to Canucks star Markus Naslund in an earlier game between the teams. Naslund was injured on the play, but Moore did not receive a penalty or any further disciplinary action.
Moore's lawyer, Tim Danson, discovered last September that Bertuzzi, former Vancouver coach Marc Crawford and Canucks owner Orca Bay reached a settlement on how to share the liability should Moore win the case. Knowledge of the deal surfaced after Bertuzzi had dropped a third-party claim against Crawford.
An Ontario court ruled in January that Moore's counsel should have access to the details of that agreement. Bertuzzi and the Canucks appealed that decision, but it was upheld by an Ontario Superior Court judge on Monday.
The details of the agreement will not be disclosed to the public until the case goes to trial later this year.
Danson declined to comment further when reached Tuesday. An email sent to Bertuzzi's lawyer Geoff Adair was not returned.
Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing bodily harm in the criminal trial that followed the incident. He was sentenced to a year's probation and 80 hours of community service on Feb. 14, 2006. He was also served a multi-game suspension by the NHL.
After Moore launched his civil suit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks, Bertuzzi filed a third-party claim against Crawford, claiming the coach urged his players to make Moore "pay the price" for his hit on Naslund.
In court documents released Monday, Justice Paul Perell stated that he sees "no reason not to disclose the complete details of the proportional sharing between the defendants."
Adair had argued in court that disclosure of the agreement's details may make his client seem culpable, stating "the plaintiff's counsel will now be in a position to make full use of the Settlement Agreement to advance the theme to (the jury) at every turn that the defendants have acted in concert to 'hide' the facts by 'paying off' Bertuzzi to drop the claim against Crawford."
Perell, however, decided that the settlement between the defendants was not an admission of liability, and said that it would be more harmful to the defence not to disclose the details of the settlement because it would lead to speculation that the defendants "have no answer or rejoinder to any prejudicial adverse inferences from having entered into a provisional sharing of indebtedness to the Moores."
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