Master Ronald Dash of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice revised a decision he made earlier this month to make it clear he does not think lawyers for Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks acted improperly.
The original decision ordered the lawyers to turn over an agreement between Bertuzzi, the Canucks and former Canucks head coach Marc Crawford to dismiss all cross claims between them and to share any financial damages ordered by the court in a lawsuit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks by former NHL player Steve Moore to Moore’s lawyers. It still stands. That decision also remains under appeal by the legal teams for Bertuzzi and the Canucks.
However, Dash rewrote a few paragraphs to show that even though he was not happy Geoffrey Adair, who represents Bertuzzi, and Ellen Snow, one of the Canucks’ lawyers, did not tell him of the agreement in a court hearing Jan. 4, they were acting in good faith.
In a later court hearing, John Adair, another of Bertuzzi’s lawyers, and Alan D’Silva, who represents the Canucks, argued that such agreements should remain confidential. If not, then people involved in lawsuits would not be inclined to make them, resulting in more costly and time-consuming trials. They are appealing Dash’s decision on those grounds as well.
“I did not mean to imply by my reference to provisions of the rules of professional conduct and the principles of professionalism for advocates that those lawyers acted unprofessionally or that the failure to disclose the settlement agreement amounted to misconduct,” Dash wrote. “The determination by the defendants not to disclose the agreement therefore was an honest decision made in good faith, but it was a mistaken decision. Of course, if an appeal court takes a different view, then their decision not to disclose would have been both honest and correct.”
The final sentence was an acknowledgment by Dash that his decision ordering the lawyers for Bertuzzi and the Canucks to turn the agreement over to Tim Danson, Moore’s lawyer, could be overturned on appeal.
“We are pleased Master Dash clarified his decision,” D’Silva said Tuesday.
Moore is seeking more than $38-million as the result of an attack by Bertuzzi in March of 2004 that ended his NHL career. The lawsuit is scheduled for trial in late September or early October.