Fog Devils, Juniors face off in court

Rob Antle
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Hockey Duelling lawsuits relate to sale of QMJHL club last year

The former and current owners of the old St. John's Fog Devils franchise have filed duelling legal motions related to the sale of the club.

The two sides are at odds over the agreement that saw the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) franchise transferred to Montreal last year.

The former and current owners of the old St. John's Fog Devils franchise have filed duelling legal motions related to the sale of the club.

The two sides are at odds over the agreement that saw the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) franchise transferred to Montreal last year.

It's a tangly tale of he-said, he-said playing out in law offices and courthouses from Duckworth Street to Rene-Levesque Boulevard.

The allegations - on both sides - have yet to be proven in court.

In 2008, Montreal businessman Farrel Miller finalized the deal to buy the Fog Devils franchise. Miller moved the team to Verdun, Que., a suburb of Montreal.

The franchise was re-christened the Montreal Juniors.

According to documents provided to The Telegram by the Juniors' front office, lawyers for Miller sent Brad Dobbin of Fog Devils Ltd. a letter on April 10, 2009, following several communiques between the two sides.

The letter alleged that the Fog Devils had failed to live up to the terms of the sale agreement, by not providing all the entertainment and equipment assets to the new owners as outlined in the deal.

Because of this dispute, the Juniors had to make purchases amounting to nearly $125,000, according to the letter written by Charles Nadeau of Stikeman Elliott LLP in Montreal.

The letter further alleged that the Fog Devils conducted an "illegal trade" after the deal was signed, giving up a second- and a fourth-round draft pick in exchange for a veteran playing in his last QMJHL season.

The Montreal owner put the value of the "damages stemming from this contractual breach" at $461,250, or 15 per cent of the value of the club in 2008.

The letter demanded total payment of $586,132 from the Fog Devils.

Just over a month later, on May 21, Fog Devils Ltd. fired a legal salvo of its own, filing a statement of claim against Miller in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court.

According to court documents filed by the Fog Devils, the purchase price for the club and its assets was $3.075 million.

Under the agreement, $2 million was paid upon the deal closing on May 9, 2008.

The balance of $1.075 million was payable in six equal installments of nearly $180,000 each over the next six years, the court documents note.

The payments were scheduled to be made on May 9 of each year.

But the Fog Devils claim Miller failed to make the first of those payments, on May 9, 2009, "and has therefore breached its covenant" in the purchase agreement.

Fog Devils Ltd. is seeking the full $1.075 million payable under the terms of the deal, plus pre-judgment interest and costs.

On Wednesday, Miller and the Juniors filed their own motion in Quebec Superior Court seeking payment of $586,132 from the Fog Devils. The claim cited the alleged non-delivery of assets, and the trade of the two draft picks.

The Juniors front office said Miller would have no comment, instead steering all inquiries to legal documents filed by the club and e-mailed to The Telegram late Friday.

Brad Dobbin of the Fog Devils did not return phone messages left on his cell phone before deadline Friday.

The Fog Devils moved at the end of the 2007-08 season, following three years in St. John's.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Fog Devils, Montreal Juniors, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Quebec Superior Court

Geographic location: Montreal, St. John's, Duckworth Street Rene-Levesque Boulevard Verdun

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    When you read about the antics of the former owners, you have to wonder if all the blame that was heaped on SJSE over losing the Fog Devils might need some redirection towards the slippery former owners.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    When you read about the antics of the former owners, you have to wonder if all the blame that was heaped on SJSE over losing the Fog Devils might need some redirection towards the slippery former owners.