Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Roger Goodell Should Not Step Down

There is no doubt that the NFL and the Ravens have mismanaged their handling of the Ray Rice case. They've told us that much.

When I interviewed Don Van Natta, the ESPN Outside The Lines Reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who wrote his expose on the Ravens handling of the situation, it was tough to conclude otherwise.

Calls for Roger Goodell to step down, however, are not only premature but unsubstantiated. While many believe Goodell saw the video, there is simply no concrete evidence to date to suggest that's the case.

Some argue he should resign on the basis that at the very least he should have known of the video's existence or was willfully blind to it. While I am sympathetic to that position, ultimately there is no evidence he knew of the dramatic and disturbing images on that video.

Historically, Goodell has been tough on all those associated with the NFL - players, coordinators, coaches and owners (see Vilma, Payton, Loomis, Vitt and Irsay).

So in light of Goodell's (fierce) past practice, what did he have to gain by covering things up? Not sure he did.

Perhaps a more likely scenario is that he treated this case as one in series of 89 domestic violence cases the NFL has faced since 2000 - and which have received on average a 2 game suspension. And perhaps a more likely scenario is that Goodell has become somewhat desensitized to instances of domestic violence and saw this as just another case.

The two videos are what caused the public uproar and backlash. However, there was no uproar or backlash in connection with the previous 88 domestic violence cases. And as a lawyer I will say this - that's what domestic violence looks like (and frankly sometimes it's a hell of lot worse).

And so perhaps a fair question to ask ourselves is whether as a collective we have become desensitized to domestic violence and whether, as a collective, we have also failed.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

TSN Article: It's Not Over for Tony Stewart

In my latest TSN article, I discuss the Tony Stewart case, including the grand jury process, the grand jury electing not to charge Stewart and what's next for Stewart.

In short, this isn't the end for Stewart. Expect Ward's family to sue Stewart for wrongful death. They hold him responsible for Kevin Ward's death.

Click here to read. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TSN Article: Adrian Peterson's Indefinite Suspension & The Exemption List

Today, news broke that the Vikings had a change of heart and were suspending Adrian Peterson indefinitely by placing him on a mysterious Exemption List.

Click here for my breakdown.

TSN 1200 Radio: We Talk Adrian Peterson Indefinite Suspension

I join JR and Steve Warne on TSN 1200 to talk Adrian Peterson's indefinite suspension.

Click here to listen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bertuzzi Settlement: Who Generally Pays

The lawyers in the Steve Moore/Todd Bertuzzi lawsuit announced settlement recently. At this point, they are crossing the T's and dotting the I's with a view to formally dismiss the case with the Court. Once the dismissal is filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the lawsuit will officially come to an end. That should happen soon. That's correct - it's technically not over yet.

A common question that has been raised is who pays the Bertuzzi settlement, which may be in the tens of millions dollars. Is Bertuzzi on the hook for the whole amount? Do the Canucks or Orca Bay, the former owner of the Canucks, pay anything?

At law, an employer can be held liable for the acts committed by an employee in the course of his or her employment. This principle is called vicarious liability. That's why Steve Moore not only sued Bertuzzi, but also his employer Orca Bay.

So back to the question - who pays.

The terms of settlement in the Bertuzzi case are confidential so I can't speak to the actual arrangement. 

Generally, however, the lion's share of the settlement in these types of cases will be paid by the insurance companies. Bertuzzi's lawyer, Geoff Adair, was likely hired by the insurers.

There is a small wrinkle on the issue of the insurance coverage. Insurance policies typically will deny coverage in cases of criminal or intentional conduct. Bertuzzi committed a crime when he assaulted Moore and ended up pleading guilty to assault. That being said, Bertuzzi likely took the position that he did not intend to injure Moore, and as a result, the insurance companies may have stepped in and paid most of the settlement less any deductibles.

The other question I get a lot is this: how much is the settlement worth.

The short answer is I don't know and won't hazard a guess. The terms of settlement are confidential and will remain so. As well, anyone who is a party to the action will be contractually bound to keep the dollar amount strictly confidential, and breaching that agreement will come with penalties.

Monday, September 15, 2014

TSN Article: The Reactivation of Adrian Peterson

In this TSN article, I explain the charges against Adrian Peterson, his possible jail time, the legal options for the Vikings and what the NFL can do.

TSN Article: Judge Masipa Makes Grave Error in Conviction of Pistorius

Judge Masipa cleared Oscar Pistorius on the murder charge and convicted him on the lesser charge of culpable homicide. 

In my TSN article here, I explain why Judge Masipa made an error and should have convicted Pistorius of murder.

Friday, September 12, 2014

TSN's Off The Record: Pistorius, Ray Rice, Goodell & NHL Concussions

I join Michael Landsberg on his TSN show Off The Record. We take a 4 minute spin around the legal world of sports hitting on Pistorius, Ray Rice, Roger Goodell and the NHL concussion lawsuits.

Click here to watch.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

CTV National News: Why Judge Masipa Got It Wrong

I join CTV National News and discuss the Pistorius verdict. Click here to watch.

Same tie as below - sorry (same day).

CTV National News: Pistorius Verdict

I join CTV National News and break down the Oscar Pistorius verdict (day 1) in about 4 minutes.

Click here to watch.

Monday, September 8, 2014

TSN Article: NFL Could Revisit Rice Suspension

Here's my legal take in light of the breaking news of a new Ray Rice video showing him delivering a left hook to his fiancee at the time, Janay Palmer.

TSN 1260: We Talk Ray Rice and New Video

I join Dustin Nielson and Wil Fraser at TSN 1260 to discuss breaking news on Ray Rice. A new video has surfaced showing the RB knocking out his fiancee (at the time) in the elevator. 

We discuss what that means here.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tony Stewart & Possible Criminal Charges

As the investigation enters its fourth week, it remains an open question whether NASCAR race car driver Tony Stewart face criminal charges in the death of Kevin Ward Jr.

During a NASCAR race on August 9 in upstate New York, Ward’s car was spun out by Stewart. Furious, Ward unbuckled, climbed out of his car and walked onto the track to confront Stewart, at which point he was struck by Stewart’s car.

The District Attorney continues to investigate the death of Ward looking into whether Stewart, at the very least, intentionally revved his throttle as he passed Ward to put a scare in him. By hitting the throttle, the car fishtailed to the right into Ward, killing him. If the conclusion is that Stewart was looking to scare Ward, he could be criminally responsible for the death of Ward.

That would likely mean a second degree manslaughter charge. Also called involuntary manslaughter, this occurs when a person “recklessly” causes the death of another person. Reckless acts are generally deemed less serious or blameworthy than intentional acts. A conviction carries a minimum sentence 1 to 3 years in prison and a maximum period of incarceration of 5 to 15 years.

I wrote about the incident days for TSN here.

The DA is going to need strong evidence to be satisfied that criminal charges against Stewart are warranted. The track was dark, Ward was dressed in black and he put himself into an inherently dangerous situation by walking into oncoming traffic.

Bearing these circumstances in mind, it would be a surprise to see the DA pursue criminal charges against Stewart unless they believe the evidence, in its totality, suggests that Stewart not only failed to avoid Ward, but was reckless in the way he approached him. That reckless element is key and is your threshold for criminal charges.

I’m not making a declaration as to whether I believe Stewart intended to hit Ward or, at the very least, tried to scare him by getting close to him. I can’t crawl into Stewart’s mind to assess intent. And frankly, neither can the DA. So the evidence as a whole will need to be assessed to make a reasonable conclusion as to what likely happened that night.

And absent compelling evidence to the contrary, Stewart may get the benefit of the doubt and walk. 

While I have not had the benefit of reviewing the results of the investigation to date, my sense is that Stewart isn't likely to face charges. Of course, that could change depending on what the DA uncovers. Still, I would be surprised to see charges materialize.

That being said, it seems likely that Stewart will face a wrongful death civil lawsuit from Ward's family. If a person is killed as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another person, the surviving members may sue for "wrongful death". So long as the Ward family believes that Stewart is responsible, a lawsuit is inevitable.

Friday, September 5, 2014

TSN 1200 Ottawa: Bertuzzi/Moore

I joined Steve Lloyd and Chris Stevenson on TSN 1200 to discuss the Moore Bertuzzi settlement and what it means for the future of the game.

Click here to listen.

TSN Radio Toronto: Bertuzzi/Moore Settlement

I join Matt Cauz and Mike Hulk Hogan on TSN Toronto 1050 to talk Bertuzzi, Moore and Night Court's Markie Post.

Click here to listen.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Interview: Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent

Anyone who has had the great pleasure of interviewing Fay Vincent, the former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, will tell you he is tremendous guest. And they're right. I interviewed Vincent and was left entertained by his insight wisdom, and above all, honesty.

Vincent and I covered a lot in our interview, including his time as Commish, his legacy, Bud Selig, Bob Manfred, Pete Rose, PEDs, Expos, Bart Giamatti, his close relationship with the Bush family and his time as CEO of Columbia Pictures.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014