SBD/Issue 237/Franchises

MLB General Counsel To Appear As Witness For Frank McCourt

McCourts' Divorce Trial
Scheduled To Begin Monday

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's office "has resisted any substantive involvement in -- or comment about -- the Dodgers' divorce drama," but that "could change during the upcoming trial," with MLB Senior VP & General Counsel Thomas Ostertag scheduled to appear as a witness for Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Ostertag "would be expected to testify that McCourt is the sole owner of the Dodgers," and that his estranged wife, Jamie, "has no claim to ownership under baseball rules." Ostertag "could also say Jamie had never been approved by MLB as an owner and in fact had prepared statements for MLB certifying Frank as the sole owner." The McCourt trial is set to start Monday, with Jamie asking the court to"throw out an agreement she and her estranged husband signed six years ago that specifies he is the sole owner of the Dodgers." The list of "potential witnesses, highlighted by the McCourts themselves, otherwise is dominated by lawyers who worked on drafting or revising that agreement." Shaikin notes the two sides yesterday "filed several pretrial motions." Jamie "asked the court to restrict testimony on the discrepancies among recently discovered versions in the agreement, arguing the discrepancies alone -- three versions say the Dodgers are Frank's sole property and three do not -- represent sufficient grounds to throw out the agreement." Frank "filed three motions, the most significant of which asked the court to bar discussion of the current value of the Dodgers" or the couple's homes (L.A. TIMES, 8/24).

DRIFTING APART: The L.A. TIMES' Carla Hall in a front-page piece writes of the McCourts, "Behind closed doors, they were often a noisy power couple -- stubborn and contentious, arguing over whatever they felt strongly about, whether it was ticket prices or putting players' names on jerseys. (He had the names taken off at one point; she wanted them back on.) But in public, cameras captured them perpetually grinning at each other, as if sharing some delicious joke. ... Today, they live apart -- she in Malibu, he at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills -- and they no longer argue face-to-face. High-priced lawyers do it for them, and though the spectacle might be noisy and feisty, few would call it fun." Jamie said that she has been "advised not to speak to Frank." But she noted, "I would talk to him in a minute. ... How can you be with someone for 30 years and not try to find common ground?" (L.A. TIMES, 8/24).

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