NY judge orders NHL's suit against Moyes to Arizona

NEW YORK Mon May 10, 2010 4:28pm EDT

Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes leaves U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix, Arizona September 23, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes leaves U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix, Arizona September 23, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Manhattan judge has ordered the transfer of the National Hockey League's $61 million lawsuit against former Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes to an Arizona federal court, in a victory for the trucking magnate.

In an order made public on Monday, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel agreed with Moyes that the case should be moved from New York, citing issues of convenience, the location of relevant documents and the availability of witnesses.

"The prejudice to the NHL in having the case heard in the District of Arizona is slight," and transferring the case serves "the interests of justice," he wrote.

Shawn Rabin, a partner at Susman Godfrey LLP in New York representing Moyes, said Moyes plans to seek dismissal of the NHL case.

Bradley Ruskin, a lawyer representing the NHL, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The NHL sued Moyes accusing him of reneging on promises to keep the team in Phoenix, provide the team with enough capital, and not cause the team to file a bankruptcy petition.

Moyes put the Coyotes into bankruptcy, the NHL claims, so he could sell them without league approval to Jim Balsillie, the co-chief executive of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd, who wanted to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario.

Moyes sought to transfer the case to Arizona, saying it was "related" to the bankruptcy case there.

The NHL has said it was forced to buy the Coyotes because of Moyes' actions, and expected to lose $20 million on the team this season.

It has tried to sell the team to a group of investors known as Ice Edge Holdings, who would keep the Coyotes in Arizona.

Moyes and his family control Swift Transportation Co, a trucking company.

The case is National Hockey League v. Moyes et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-03032.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel)

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