As a Criminology and Justice Studies major, when something pings on my legal radar, I get curious and must investigate. This time, the ping was about Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi and his impending civil case dating back from his days with the Vancouver Canucks.
I mentioned back in April, when Raffi Torres was given his 25-game suspension, that Bertuzzi was given a 20-game suspension in March 2004 after he viciously hit Steve Moore in the back of the head. After sitting out of IIHF competition and after the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Bertuzzi was allowed to play again. Moore was forced to retire as a result of the hit. But that was the least of Bertuzzi’s troubles.
There was the criminal investigation in 2004 in which he was charged through the British Columbia courts with assault causing bodily harm, a charge that carried a sentence of up to 18 months in prison. He eventually made a deal with the prosecutors, pled guilty and got a year’s probation and 80 hours of community service, and after he served all that, it wouldn’t give him a criminal record. Was Steve Moore angry? Oh yeah, and he let the court know that in a victim impact statement he gave by letter (he couldn’t get there in time for the sentencing).
Then came the civil suits. First was one filed in Colorado in 2005, but it was thrown out when the judge decided the case was better suited for the Canadian courts. In 2006, Moore again filed a civil suit, this time in the Ontario courts. After rejecting two settlements (including one from Bertuzzi and Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment – the company the owns the Canucks – for $350,000) and raising the damages, the trial is finally going to go through in either September or October.
Now comes news from the CBC that should Moore prevail in his civil suit, the costs will be divided between Bertuzzi and Orca Bay. They originally wanted that info to remain private, but because Bertuzzi and Orca Bay dropped the lawsuits they’d brought against each other, it came out in the open. To paraphrase Moore’s lawyer, it sounds like the cross-claims were a ploy to cover up their agreement.
That’s just the really, really condensed version. After reading the details of the civil suit’s history in the courts, I think I’ll just stick to criminal law.
In any event, Bertuzzi will be on trial in civil court this fall. I was taught that the difference between the weight of evidence in civil and criminal trials is this: in criminal trials, you have to be 95% certain that there’s guilt; in civil trials, you need only 51% certainty to find for the plaintiff. Based on that, we might just see Todd Bertuzzi’s wallet become a bit lighter in the near future.