Judge rules against hockey icon Guy Lafleur in civil suit targeting Crown, cops

Judge rules against hockey icon Guy Lafleur in civil suit  targeting Crown, cops

Main pic: Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Guy Lafleur leaves the courtroom for the lunch break in his lawsuit against the Montreal police and Quebec’s attorney-general on Monday, January 12, 2015, in Montreal. A Quebec Superior Court justice has ruled against Lafleur in his $2.16-million civil suit that targeted police and the Crown following a 2008 arrest. Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz.

MONTREAL — A Quebec judge has dismissed former hockey great Guy Lafleur’s $2.16−million civil suit against Montreal police and the Crown following his 2008 arrest.

Lafleur was seeking damages stemming from an arrest for giving contradictory testimony at his son Mark’s bail hearing.

During a civil trial earlier this year, the ex−Montreal Canadiens star claimed the Crown and police were cavalier in issuing the arrest warrant, that his reputation was tarnished and that he incurred financial losses following the heavily reported event.

In a ruling released Wednesday, Quebec Superior Court Justice Andre Wery wrote that “the theory of a conspiracy advanced by Guy Lafleur does not rely on any facts.”

He noted much of the Lafleur team’s case was built on “speculation” and “conjecture” with regard to the work of professionals who were simply performing their duty.

“It would have been so much easier for them to close their eyes and let it go, but they believed he should not be given a free pass (just) because of the fame of the individual concerned,” the judge wrote.

Lafleur was arrested in 2008 and found guilty in 2009, but the conviction was overturned on appeal in 2010.

The police and Crown had maintained they were justified in proceeding with the warrant given the seriousness of the rare Criminal Code offence.

Wery noted in his ruling there was valid reason to pursue the charge against Lafleur at the time.

He also wrote that Lafleur’s acquittal did not automatically mean the Crown had committed a fault.

“We don’t ask them to be perfect, but they must always act in good faith, without malevolence,” Wery wrote. “In this case … the court finds the conduct of the Crown and police was not at fault.”

The icon known as “The Flower” had claimed financial hardship stemming from the arrest as business partners cancelled contracts with him.

But Wery wrote the circumstantial evidence showing a drop in income earned following the arrest was insufficient. No witnesses were brought before the judge to state they’d ended a contractual relationship because of the accusations.

“The court finds the evidence did not show a direct and immediate link required by law,” Wery wrote. “Damages of this nature cannot be awarded based on speculation and conjecture.”

Lafleur has 30 days to decide whether to appeal. Contacted by The Canadian Press, his lawyer, Jacques Jeansonne, declined comment.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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