Final Chapter in LA Dodgers Divorce?

BarristerJamie and Frank McCourt are now more famous for their over-the-top divorce than for their eight-year run as the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The twists and turns of their lengthy litigation could fill a book, and no doubt will!

For those of you who followed their case, you may remember the fight over their marriage agreement, made more complex and confusing because two different versions of the agreement surfaced. One agreement said that Frank McCourt would keep the ball team if the parties separated, while the second divided it equally as community property. Judge Scott Gordon threw out both agreements to the disappointment of Mr. McCourt who hoped he would prevail.

That then led to professional embarrassment and perhaps worse, for Boston lawyer, Larry Silverstein, who drafted the agreement. He testified that after both parties signed the agreement he “tinkered” with it: he changed it to say that Frank McCourt would retain the LA Dodgers. The trouble was he had six copies, three he changed and three he did not, and he didn’t tell Jamie or Frank what he had done.

He also broke two other cardinal rules: he had never practiced in the area of family law, and he acted for both Jamie and Frank McCourt, ignoring a potential conflict of interest.

But that was the least of the McCourts’ problems. Unable to meet the Dodger’s payroll, the team filed for bankruptcy and the league appointed a trustee to run the franchise.

Later in 2011 a settlement was finally achieved that saw Frank McCourt retain the ball club in exchange for a payment of $131 million to his wife, together with a portfolio of multi-million dollar homes.

Mr. McCourt eventually found a buyer for the team who agreed to pay him $2 billion dollars. Can you imagine Jamie McCourt’s wrath? She immediately filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the settlement agreement, alleging her husband had misled her with regards to the value of the team and television broadcast rights.

The trial judge tossed out her court action reasoning that her evidence that she was not provided with sufficient financial information was not credible. The Court noted that Mr. McCourt had disclosed 220,000 pages of financial documentation. He also found that as a director of the ball club she had seen documents estimating the value of the Dodgers at $2.3 billion. The trial decision was affirmed this week by the California Court of Appeal who said:

“Jamie simply chose the security of a guaranteed $131 million payment, plus more than $50 million in real and personal property, over the uncertainty and risk presented by the valuation and sale of the Dodger assets.”

It is reported that the McCourts’ legal fees up to the settlement exceeded $19 million dollars.

Mrs. McCourt must now also pay her former husband $1.9 million for her failed attempt to overturn their deal.

Is this the final chapter? Given the McCourt’s track record I would bet it is not!

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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