Judge narrows terms of lawsuit against Canucks, owner
Sports psychologist sued when two-year contract terminated after six months
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has narrowed the terms of a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit against the Vancouver Canucks Limited Partnership and its chairman, Francesco Aquilini.
Italian sports psychologist Bruno Demichelis, who was employed by the Canucks from July 1, 2012 to January 31, 2013, sued Aquilini and the hockey club after his two-year contract was terminated after six months.
According to the July 17 court judgment by Madame Justice Watchuk posted on the court’s website Thursday, the contract contained a clause that stated that the Canucks would use reasonable efforts to assist Demichelis in securing all necessary authorizations to continue to work in Canada throughout the term of the contract.
However, the hockey club terminated the contract without compensation on the grounds that it was unable to obtain a work permit for the plaintiff.
In his action, Demichelis alleges that the Canucks did not use reasonable efforts to secure the necessary permits to allow him to continue working in Canada, and did not have just cause for his dismissal.
There was also a claim against Aquilini personally for negligent or fraudulent or reckless misrepresentation.
The judgment noted that Demichelis claimed Aquilini promised that he would form a business partnership with him to build a sports science lab in Vancouver for the Canucks and the community; that he would help market Demichelis’s sports science technology to other professional sports clubs throughout North America and the world; and that Aquilini promised Demichelis that he would enjoy “secure, long-term employment with the Club and the Canucks.”
However, Watchuk stated in her decision that the allegations regarding the business partnership, the building of the Canucks lab, and the marketing of the technology are promises made by Aquilini that something will be done in the future.
“Those statements, that Mr. Aquilini promised he would do certain acts in the future, are not statements of matters of past or present fact. Nor are the statements of promises statements of present intention. Therefore those statements are not representations and the claim for negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation against Mr. Aquilini is bound to fail.”
Watchuk, who struck several paragraphs and sentences from Demichelis’s notice of civil claim, awarded costs to the Canucks and Aquilini, adding that “the question as to whether the action should be dismissed against Mr. Aquilini will have to await a specific application where that relief is sought.”
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