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.

No comments: