Francesco Aquilini and Vancouver Canucks win first round in court against Italian sports psychologist

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A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled in favour of the Vancouver Canucks Limited Partnership and its chairman, Francesco Aquilini, in an application to narrow the terms of a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit. 

Famed Italian sports psychologist Bruno Demichelis has sued Aquilini and the Canucks after his two-year contract was terminated after only six months.

In a July 17 decision posted today on the B.C. Supreme Court website, Justice Jeanne E. Watchuk struck several paragraphs, sentences, and portions of sentences from Demichelis's notice of civil claim.

Demichelis, a former European karate champion, was employed by the Canucks from July 1, 2012, to January 31, 2013. His contract was originally intended to expire on June 30, 2014.

The sports psychologist alleged in his notice of civil claim that "Aquilini promised the Plaintiff that he would form a business partnership...in order to build a sports science lab in Vancouver for the Canucks and the community".

In addition, Demichelis alleged that Aquilini "promised" that the two of them would market Demichelis's sports-science technology to other professional sports teams. 

Moreover, Demichelis claimed that Aquilini promised "secure long-term employment".

And Demichelis alleged that Aquilini "knew or ought to have known that the plaintiff would rely on the Representations and Promises" even though he "had no intention of fulfilling" them.

Watchuk stated in her decision that Aquilini and the Canucks argued that these representations and promises "all relate to promises of future conduct".

The defendants' lawyers, Joseph Arvay and Timothy Dickson, maintained that none of the statements "is a representation for the purposes of tort law, and thus none could form the basis of liability in negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation".

Watchuk ruled that the notice of civil claim did not allege that Aquilini had the ability to and was "ready, willing and able to enter into a business partnership" with Demichelis for the purposes stated.

"Those statements, that Mr. Aquilini promised he would do certain acts in the future, are not statements of matters of past or present fact," the judge concluded.  "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 did not remove Aquilini as a defendant because the application did not seek this.

She awarded costs to Aquilini and the Canucks, saying "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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