MONTREAL — There are few things as coveted in Montreal as Canadiens season tickets, and a Quebec man has found that cutting someone out from a long-standing ticket-sharing deal can come at a hefty cost.
Quebec Superior Court awarded nearly $45,000 in compensation to Louis Terzopoulos in a judgment this month after he argued successfully that his former brother-in-law, Petros Sakaris, deprived him of his stake in seats they had previously shared for 19 years.
The tickets were described in testimony from a sports-marketing expert and former Montreal Canadiens executive as "amongst the best seats in the house" — above the penalty bench, on the centre-ice red line with an unobstructed view.
For his part, Sakaris had argued that the tickets at Montreal’s Bell Centre were his alone, that there was never any formal agreement with Terzopoulos, and that as the sole owner of the seats, he offered them to the plaintiff because of their links through marriage.
Justice Jeffrey Edwards’ Aug. 1 ruling in the civil suit found that Sakaris didn’t have the right to cut his former brother-in-law out of the tickets.
"The overwhelming evidence confirms the existence of an agreement between Petros and Louis pursuant to which Louis had a right to obtain and share from Petros the use of two Montreal Canadiens season tickets," Edwards wrote.
The case was heard over a few days in late June, but the legal fight is not over. Sakaris’s attorney Tom Markakis said in an email his client plans to appeal, declining further comment.
After meeting each other through their respective girlfriends — sisters they would go on to marry — the men attended Montreal Canadiens games from time to time. The trial heard they had often discussed owning season tickets, and then Sakaris had the opportunity to snag a pair from a construction company executive who was giving up her seats at the Montreal Forum.
They first obtained the tickets for the 1995-96 season and divided the cost of the seats. The hockey club’s policy is that only one individual or company be named on an account, so they agreed that Sakaris would register his.
The tickets were transferred to the Canadiens’ current home, now known as the Bell Centre. For years, the pair would split the regular season tickets equally according to their preferences and their availabilities and repeat the same process for playoff tickets.
The ruling suggests Terzopoulos’ marriage breakup and difficult divorce proceedings were the trigger for Sakaris denying him the tickets starting in September 2014.
"The contractual agreement between Petros and Louis was and should have been treated separately and independently from the marriage breakdown of Louis and Petros’ sister-in-law," the judge ruled.
But instead of coming to a mutual agreement or offering to compensate his ex-brother-in-law, Sakaris decided to deny an agreement ever existed, the judge wrote.
"In his testimony, Petros admitted that he refused to provide further tickets to Louis on the basis of the recriminations of his sister-in-law against Louis," the judge wrote. "In so doing, Petros took the law into his own hands and meted out what he felt was a deserved punishment for Louis."
The court heard Terzopoulos, described in the ruling as "an intense fan of the Montreal Canadiens," has spent the past five years on a waiting list for tickets and will have to wait about two more given the current wait time. The court noted that even then, the seats that would become available would not be premium seats like those he enjoyed with his former brother-in-law.
The judge awarded moral damages of $8,000 for loss of enjoyment of the prime seating during the regular season and the playoffs and another $1,050 for a souvenir Montreal Forum seat that Sakaris refused to give to Terzopoulos. The remainder of the $44,849 represents the value of a half share of the season tickets, legal fees and fees for registering on the waiting list.