TheStar.com - Sports
Raptors suit against Spanish federation could top $14 million
Raptors rookie Jorge Garbajosa broke his leg during a game in Boston on March 26, 2007.
March 17, 2008
The Toronto Raptors are suing the Spanish basketball federation for what could amount to more than $14 million (Canadian) the team says it is owed on an insurance claim involving injured forward Jorge Garbajosa.
The Raptors' parent company, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., filed a statement of claim against the Federacion Espanola de Baloncesto in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last Friday.
In the 19-page document, MLSE seeks 6 million Euros ($9,440,000 Canadian) in damages for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and negligence if Garbajosa has suffered permanent disability or 1.5 million Euros ($2,517,000 Canadian) for temporary disability.
Garbajosa, who earned $3,416,667 (U.S.) last season, is to earn $3,666,667 for the current NBA season and $3,916,666 for 2008-09.
"He was a hard-working player and a solid defender and his absence from the starting lineup is a significant loss to the team," the Raptors stated in their claim.
MLSE is also asking for $5 million (Canadian) in punitive damages.
Garbajosa injured his left leg last March that caused him to miss the final 12 games of the season as well as the playoffs. The Raptors wanted him to concentrate on rehabilitation rather than playing for Spain in last summer's European championships.
But when the Spanish Federation persisted in its request that the Raptors allow him to play, the team agreed only after the Spaniards took out a $1 million (U.S.) insurance policy against further injury to Garbajosa's leg, the claim states.
The suit states that the Federation advised the Raptors it had obtained permanent disability coverage in the amount of 6 million Euros and 1.6 million Euros for temporary disability. While the policy was written in Spanish, the Federation agreed to provide an accurate and certified translation, according to the Raptors' allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law.
While Garbajosa did not seem to re-injure his leg in the tournament, it was apparent he was having difficulty with it as the current NBA season began in November. In December, tests showed the fracture had not completely healed and he was also suffering from avascular necrosis of the left tibia, a potentially career-ending injury, according to doctors.
He underwent further surgery and has not returned to the Raptors' lineup, although he has started to work out with the team in practice.
The Raptors made a claim under the terms of the insurance policy, but it was denied by the insurance company.
In their suit, the Raptors say the translation of the Spanish insurance policy was inaccurate and incomplete and are now without coverage for the disability of Garbajosa.
"The Federation knew or ought to have known that it was of crucial importance that the translation be complete and accurate and that the Raptors would rely on the Federation's representation with respect to the certification exclusively," according to the claim.
"The Raptors have suffered significant damages as a result of the Federation's actions," the document goes on to state. The team is contractually bound to pay Garbajosa's salary, even if he never plays again, which is a distinct possibility.
"The defendant's action ... amounted to wanton and intentional disregard for the interests of the Raptors for its own benefit."
Raptors' general manager Bryan Colangelo is on a European scouting trip and he was expected to meet with Spanish Federation officials to discuss the lawsuit.