Go north: Judge tosses Moore's suit against Bertuzzi

DENVER -- Former Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore's
lawsuit over a vicious hit by Todd Bertuzzi was dismissed Thursday,
and the judge advised him to take the case to Canada.

Moore's claims would be better handled in Canada because that's
where the hit happened and all the defendants are based there,
Denver District Judge Shelley Gilman said. Her ruling was in
agreement with attorneys for Bertuzzi, the Canucks and others.

"British Columbia bears the most significant relationship to
Moore's claims," Gilman wrote. She also said a new state law
prohibited her from allowing the case to continue.

Moore hasn't played since the March 8, 2004, game in which
Bertuzzi grabbed him from behind, punched him in the head and drove
his head into the ice. Moore, who suffered three fractured
vertebrae in his neck, a concussion and other injuries, testified
earlier this month that after months of physical therapy, he has
begun training in hopes of rejoining the Avalanche.

He was seeking unspecified damages from the Canucks, team owner
Orca Bay Hockey Limited Partnership, Bertuzzi, coach Marc Crawford,
former general manager Brian Burke and former Canucks player Brad May.

Moore has the right to ask the judge to reconsider or to appeal
her ruling. Neither Moore's attorneys nor his agent returned calls
seeking comment.

Moore's attorneys argued that he was a Colorado resident when he
was injured and when he filed the lawsuit, giving him the right to
seek damages in Colorado. They also said events leading up to
Bertuzzi's hit started during a game in Denver on Feb. 16, 2004,
when Moore hit Canucks captain Markus Nasland, leaving him with a

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, according to Lee Foreman,
Moore's attorney. The lawsuit accused Bertuzzi and the other
defendants of civil conspiracy, assault, battery and negligence.

Foreman argued that the formation of the alleged conspiracy in
Denver, and the fact that Moore received medical treatment in
Denver, was enough to allow Moore to pursue his lawsuit in
Colorado. The judge disagreed.

"The statements allegedly made by the defendants in Colorado do
not rise to the level of tortious or unlawful acts," which would
be required to prove a conspiracy, she wrote.

Attorney Mike O'Donnell, who represents the Canucks and
Crawford, said the judge accepted all the arguments the defendants

"The team is pleased, and coach Crawford is pleased, that this
case will go forward -- if at all -- in the Canadian courts," he

Gilman wrote that she was required to dismiss the case under a
2004 state law enacted in response to a large number of cases filed
by nonresidents. The law was designed to ensure Coloradans have
access to the courts by limiting access by nonresidents.

Factors she had to consider included Moore's residency and
citizenship, the fact that he could file his case in Vancouver, the
fact that the injury occurred in Canada and the fact that most
witnesses are in Canada. She also had to consider whether Colorado
law would apply to Moore's claims, and concluded that was highly
unlikely for most or all the claims.

Burke's attorney, Scott Barker, said his client was not in
Denver when the alleged conspiracy was formed.

"The ruling doesn't address the merits of the claims," Barker
said. "But even taking the allegations of the complaint as true,
they don't establish a sufficient connection with the state of

Bertuzzi's attorney, Roger Tomasch, was out of the state and
unavailable for comment, his receptionist said.

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

Bertuzzi was reinstated to the NHL in August after being
indefinitely suspended and missing 13 regular-season games and the
Stanley Cup playoffs in 2004, giving up about $502,000 in salary.
He is due to earn about $5.2 million this season.

Moore is an unrestricted free agent, but he has said the
Avalanche plan to sign him to a new contract once his doctors clear
him to play again.