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Former Canucks owner ordered to testify at Steve Moore lawsuit trial

Steve Moore’s lawyer Tim Danson arrives at court in Toronto in September 2009.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Former Vancouver Canucks owner John McCaw Jr. was ordered to testify by two-way video conferencing in Steve Moore's lawsuit that seeks more than $38-million in damages from the Canucks and one of their former players, Todd Bertuzzi.

Master Ronald Dash of the Ontario Superior Court released his decision Monday morning, saying: "I am satisfied from the plaintiff's evidence that McCaw has material evidence to give at trial on issues of corporate negligence, vicarious liability and punitive damages, and McCaw has chosen to provide no evidence on this motion to the contrary."

However, American courts will likely decide whether McCaw will have to make himself available to testify near his home in Seattle. Dash agreed with McCaw's lawyers that an Ontario civil court cannot order an American citizen to appear in person when the trial begins in Toronto in September, and ruled there have been cases where Americans have testified in foreign courts by video from the U.S.

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But Dash made clear that the most he can do is order a letter of request be sent to "judicial authorities" in Washington state to order McCaw to "attend at a suitable location in the State of Washington to be examined at trial."

The trial will come more than 10 years after Bertuzzi attacked Moore, who then played for the Colorado Avalanche, in retaliation for a weeks-earlier hit on Canucks star Markus Naslund. Bertuzzi jumped Moore from behind during a game on Mar. 8, 2004, and left him with a severe concussion and three broken vertebrae in his neck – injuries which ended his NHL career. Bertuzzi later pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and was placed on probation. He was also briefly suspended by the NHL, but remains in the league as a player for the Detroit Red Wings.

Tim Danson, one of Moore's lawyers, argued McCaw should be forced to testify about several matters, including what he knew about the public threats some Canucks players made in the period between Moore's hit on Naslund and Bertuzzi's attack.

Dash asked similar questions. "Did [McCaw] encourage retribution against Moore?" Dash asked in his decision. "Alternatively, did he take steps to 'turn down the temperature' by directing management to take steps to prevent retaliation?"

McCaw sold his majority interest in the Canucks to the Aquilini family in 2006, but a condition of the sale is that McCaw is responsible for half of any damages awarded against the Canucks to Moore.

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Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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