Attorneys: Moore has no standing for suit in Colorado

Updated: January 8, 2015, 4:45 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Attorneys for the Vancouver Canucks, forward Todd Bertuzzi and others asked a judge Monday to throw out a lawsuit filed by former Colorado Avalanche center Steve Moore over Bertuzzi's on-ice attack in March 2004, saying Moore didn't have enough connections to Colorado to gain the right to sue in state court.

Moore, still recovering from injuries sustained in the game in Vancouver, is seeking unspecified damages from the Canucks, the partnership that owns the team, Bertuzzi, former player Brad May, coach Marc Crawford and former general manager Brian Burke.

Moore's attorney Lee Foreman told Denver District Judge Shelley Gilman that Moore was a Colorado resident when he was injured March 8, 2004, and when he filed the lawsuit, giving him the right to seek damages in a Colorado court. He also argued that events leading up to Bertuzzi's hit started during a game in Denver Feb. 16, 2004, in which Moore hit Canucks captain Markus Naslund, leaving him with a concussion.

The judge did not indicate when she planned to rule.

After the February game, Bertuzzi, May -- who signed with the Avalanche this summer -- Crawford and Burke met in Denver and planned Bertuzzi's hit as retaliation, Foreman said. He also said Bertuzzi, May and other players threatened Moore after that game and during a March 3, 2004, game in Denver.

The lawsuit accuses Bertuzzi and the other defendants of civil conspiracy, assault, battery and negligence.

Bertuzzi faced up to 18 months in prison after Vancouver authorities charged him with assault. He pleaded guilty in August and was sentenced to probation and ordered to perform community service.

He also was reinstated to the NHL in August after being indefinitely suspended. He missed the Canucks' final 13 regular-season games and the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2004, giving up about $502,000 in salary.

Bertuzzi has played in two preseason games and is due to earn about $5.2 million this season from the Canucks.

Moore missed 12 regular-season games and 12 playoff games last season after suffering three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a concussion and other injuries when Bertuzzi grabbed him from behind, punched him on the head and then drove his head into the ice. Moore is an unrestricted free agent, but testified in court Monday that Avalanche officials have told him they plan to sign him to a new contract once his doctors clear him to play again.

Moore testified that he began training in April to return to hockey.

"I want to return to the team I was playing with before I was injured," he said. "I've been a part of that organization for six years and spent a lot of time and effort proving myself there."

Canucks attorney Michael O'Donnell argued that Moore had no family or property in Colorado and no legal ties to the state either when his injury occurred or when he filed the lawsuit.

"We are here today because of something that happened in Canada between Canadian residents and citizens of Canada," O'Donnell said. "The plaintiff has engaged in impermissible forum-shopping."

Burke's attorney, Scott Barker, said his client wasn't even in Colorado for the Feb. 16, 2004, game and couldn't have participated in the alleged conspiracy.

O'Donnell said a state law governing lawsuits filed over events that occur outside the state requires the judge to dismiss the case because Moore was never a Colorado resident.

Foreman disputed that, saying Moore continues to maintain a local phone number in Denver, has important mail such as phone bills delivered to a Denver address and intends to return to Colorado once he is medically cleared to play. He also said Moore lived in Denver for several months after he was injured. Foreman also said Moore has held a Colorado driver's license, registered his car in Colorado and obtained a Colorado car-insurance policy.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press