BUFFALO, N.Y. – Former Sabres enforcer Rob Ray is suing the NHL Players’ Association for a second time over money owed him during the NHL lockout, accusing the union of deceiving him into settling his initial suit two years ago.
Ray is seeking US$2 million in punitive damages and back pay in a suit filed in State Supreme Court in Buffalo in January. The lawsuit first became public Thursday in a report.
The NHLPA, in legal documents submitted this past month, has asked to have the suit dismissed. The union denies Ray’s allegations, saying he was not deceived, but rather signed a waiver against receiving any more money or taking further legal action upon settling his first lawsuit in September 2005.
The latest lawsuit is a follow up to Ray’s first case against the NHLPA filed in December 2004. Ray had accused the NHLPA of refusing to pay him a monthly stipend – ranging between $5,000 and $10,000 – during the lockout which wiped out the 2004-05 season.
Ray eventually agreed to an out-of-court settlement, and received an undisclosed amount of money. At the time, Ray said, the union informed him it would not distribute any more money to players out of its compensation fund after the lockout ended.
In his second lawsuit, Ray said he was shut out again when the union, following his settlement, did in fact distribute the surplus of its compensation fund to both current and retired players.
By doing so, Ray said, the NHLPA went back on its word and “falsely, fraudulently, and with the intent to deceive and defraud,” got him to settle the first suit.
Not so, the NHLPA said in response.
The union said Ray was clearly made aware of the potential for future payments out of the compensation fund, and signed away any right to them.
The NHLPA cited the settlement agreement signed by Ray, which read: “It is understood that in this agreement, Ray is waiving any claim to future payments that may be made by the NHLPA to former members.”
The union said Ray’s position could have been different had he continued playing.
Ray completed his 15-year NHL career with the Ottawa Senators in 2004, and has said he failed in an attempt to land a tryout with a team following the lockout. He has spent the past three years as a TV broadcaster with the Sabres.
A court date has not been scheduled.