Moore & Bertuzzi officially reach an agreement: NHL violence avoids spotlight for now

Published 11 September 2014 By: Joseph M. Hanna

Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi

The decade long legal battle between Todd Bertuzzi and former Colorado Avalanche player Steve Moore is officially at rest.

After confusing reportsof a potential settlement between Moore and Bertuzzi surfaced about two weeks ago, they were quickly underminedby Steve Moore’s brother,3 Mark, claiming the deal was a farce to pressure Steve into settling.

The allegations were finally ended on Thursday, however, when Steve Moore released an official statement leaving no suspicion or doubt: “the legal case for the loss of my NHL career is over. I have accepted a settlement4 agreement which has now been finalized and signed by all the parties.” As was anticipated, the amount was not disclosed, nor will it likely ever be.

Moore’s lawsuit arose from a career-ending sucker punch he received on ice from Todd Bertuzzi, a member of the Canucks, back in March of 2004. A few weeks prior, Moore landed a questionable body-check on Vancouver’s Captain, Markus Naslund, giving him a concussion. Vancouver players publicly spoke out about Moore, calling him a marked man.

On March 8, the teams met again, and Todd Bertuzzi threw a devastating right hook to the back of Moore’s head after Moore refused to turn and face him. As Moore crashed to the ice unconscious, Bertuzzi, fell on top of his back while many others, from both teams, piled on. Moore sustained a concussion and three cracked vertebrae, and never played in the NHL again.

Moore was injured in his rookie season, having only played 69 games in the NHL. He sought lost earnings from the NHL career he anticipated having. Originally, Moore demanded $38 million, but increased the amount of damages to $68 million this past July.

Todd Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to assault charges after the incident, avoiding jail time. He was placed on probation and performed 80 hours of community service. The NHL suspended Bertuzzi for the remaining 13 games of the season in addition to the NHL playoffs that year. He has since played 9 seasons in the NHL and is currently an unrestricted free agent.

The settlement here is potentially very significant considering the current wave of concussion-related litigation running rampant throughout professional and collegiate sports. The NHL has several recent lawsuits pending, which have been consolidated US District Court in Minnesota.

Commissioner Gary Bettman, team owners, and other executives would’ve been called to testify had this matter gone to trial, exposing the NHL’s handling of concussions and the violence causing them. While the NHL’s unique policy toward violence would’ve come under heavy scrutiny in this trial, it will stay out of the spotlight for now, until the concussion litigation moves forward.

As happy as Moore and Bertuzzi may be the case is over, the NHL must be ecstatic to put this matter to rest before the concussion litigation makes its way to the bench. 5


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Joseph M. Hanna

Joseph M. Hanna

Joseph Hanna is a partner of Goldberg Segalla and concentrates his practice in commercial litigation with a focus on sports and entertainment law and retail, hospitality, and development litigation. Joe represents sports franchises, professional athletes, and movie studios with various issues related to licensing, contracts, and day-to-day management. He serves as Chair of Goldberg Segalla’s Sports and Entertainment Law Practice Group and editor of the firm’s Sports and Entertainment Law Insider blog. In addition, Joe is the Chair of Goldberg Segalla's Diversity Task Force. He possesses an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
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