Settlment offer rejected in Moore lawsuit against Bertuzzi

TORONTO – The lawyer for Steve Moore has rejected a $350,000 offer to settle the player’s $15-million lawsuit against Todd Bertuzzi and the former parent company of the Vancouver Canucks, according to recently filed documents in Ontario Superior Court.

Lawyers for Bertuzzi and Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment made the offer to Moore’s lawyer Tim Danson during an NHL-brokered meeting in December 2006.

A letter sent by Danson to Bertuzzi’s lawyer Geoffrey Adair that details the meeting is among the court documents. Danson writes in the letter that the offer “was calculated to be an insult and was an insult.”

Danson declined comment Tuesday other than to say “the letter speaks for itself,” while Adair didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

The lawsuit, currently in the discovery stage, stems from an ugly incident during a March 8, 2004, game in Vancouver when Bertuzzi, then of the Canucks, attacked Moore, who was playing for the Colorado Avalanche.

Moore suffered three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a concussion and other injuries after Bertuzzi grabbed him from behind, punched him in the head and drove his head into the ice. Moore has not played since.

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Bertuzzi signed a US$8 million, two-year contract with Anaheim this past summer.

A month earlier, during a Feb. 16 in Denver, Moore bodychecked Canucks forward Markus Naslund and that led to talk of retribution against him, culminating with the Bertuzzi attack a month later.

The lawsuit was filed in February 2006, just as Bertuzzi was preparing to suit up for Canada at the Turin Olympics, and four months after a similar case in Denver was thrown out when a U.S. judge determined the suit would be better handled in Canada.

The trial isn’t likely to start for at least another 12-18 months.

Bertuzzi was also charged criminally with assault by Vancouver authorities for the incident. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation and community service.