02/26/2015 06:11 EST | Updated 04/28/2015 05:59 EDT

Lindros says charitable reputation is reason for lawsuit against Stewart

TORONTO - Retired NHL forward Eric Lindros says he filed a defamation lawsuit against former referee Paul Stewart and the media organization that published an article Stewart wrote because he feared the claims in the column would damage his relationships with charitable organizations.

Lindros has filed a lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court against Stewart, the Huffington Post, AOL Inc., and AOL Canada Inc., claiming he was defamed in an article published last summer.

In an amended statement of claim filed Nov. 24, Lindros claims a Huffington Post story written by Stewart, titled "Hecklers, Hooligans and the Striped-Shirted Maitre D," contained false statements and was inaccurate, untrue and defamatory in nature.

In the July 16 article, Stewart wrote he got off on the wrong foot with Lindros during the player's rookie season, saying the Flyers forward told him "(Bleep) you. Just drop the (bleeping) puck already" when he tried to make small talk during a delay in a game against New Jersey.

Before the game, according to the article, Stewart said he brought a tube filled with posters to the Flyers' equipment manager to be co-signed by Lindros and then donated to a charity auction. Stewart said in the article that after the game the equipment manager told him that when Lindros found out the posters were for Stewart, he tore every one of them up.

Lindros said in a phone interview Thursday that Stewart's claims are false and that word of the incident spreading to charities he works with "doesn't sit well at all."

"I take pride in the charities and organizations I spend time with and in many cases help fund and I would hate for the efforts of individuals in these organizations and charities to be affected because of a fabricated story," Lindros said. "I work hard trying to help out. The last thing anyone needs is to wake up to a written statement that is entirely fabricated. No one needs it."

Lindros is seeking damages of $250,000, injunctions preventing publication of the article on the online news website, along with court costs.

The court document says the statement that Lindros swore at Stewart is false, as is the claim that Lindros refused to sign the posters intended for charity auction and the claim that he tore them up. And it says these statements make Lindros out to be rude and hostile.

The statement of claim also says the July 16 article falsely states that Lindros did not want a rapport with Stewart and it alleges there are other false statements in the article.

The allegations in the statement of claim have not been proven in court. Lindros's lawyer Geoff Shaw said he has received a statement of defence from Stewart but it has not been filed in court. He has not received a statement of defence from the Huffington Post.

When reached by phone, Stewart said he had no comment. A spokeswoman for the Huffington Post said it was the company's policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Shaw said in a phone interview that they wrote a letter to Stewart and the Huffington Post shortly after the article was published July 16 asking the story be retracted and later sent a formal notice under the Ontario Libel and Slander Act. The lawsuit was filed Oct. 23 seeking damages of $3 million but was amended Nov. 24 to $250,000.

Lindros has worked with Easter Seals Ontario and other organizations since retiring.

Lindros said that he did not know why Stewart wrote the article.

"It didn't happen," he said. "The event did not occur, period."


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