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SBD/September 21, 2010/Franchises
Jamie McCourt Says She Signed Property Agreement Without Reading
Published September 21, 2010
Former Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt yesterday in her ongoing divorce trial with Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt testified that she "signed one of the most important documents of her life without reading it" -- the agreement that gave Frank "sole ownership of the couple's prized possession, the Dodgers," according to Hall & Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. At issue in the trial is the "validity of the couple's agreement -- something further complicated by the fact that both McCourts inadvertently signed different versions of the contract." Jamie testified that she "didn't read any of the copies carefully because the couple's Massachusetts lawyer, Larry Silverstein, told her the agreement would accomplish what she contends they both wanted -- to shield their millions of dollars of personal real estate from business creditors by making them her separate property." Jamie testified that she was "accustomed to Massachusetts law in which the courts equitably distribute property if a couple divorces," and she was "steadfast in her insistence that she didn't realize what the contract meant if they were to split up." Steve Susman, Frank's attorney, yesterday pointed out to Jamie that she "signed off on loan applications, statements to Major League Baseball and public relations memos all of which referred to Frank as the sole owner of the team." Jamie said, "From a title perspective, Frank was the owner. He was the designated person for Major League Baseball. But in my mind, everything was the marital estate. We had worked together to earn it. ... Frank likes to be called the owner. And that's fine with me" (L.A. TIMES, 9/21). Jamie also said that she and Frank "frequently talked about selling the team if they couldn't turn around its financial misfortunes." Jamie: "We felt confident we would have positive cash flow in two to three years. If something did not turn out exactly right, we could always sell." But Frank last week indicated that he "intends to have his four sons take the helm eventually" (AP, 9/20).
ROUGH DAY: USA TODAY's David Leon Moore writes it "didn't appear to be a good day" for Jamie, "as she claimed not to understand documents Susman asked her about." Susman "tried to paint Jamie as understanding the marital property agreement she signed in 2004 that gave her sole ownership of the couple's houses and her husband sole ownership of the Dodgers." Susman after the proceedings ended for the day said Jamie's testimony was "as fictional as Harry Potter" (USA TODAY, 9/21). In N.Y., Billy Witz writes yesterday's testimony was "expected to be one of the more intriguing parts of the trial." However, there were "few fireworks," and Susman "occasionally wiped his brow with a handkerchief and sighed several times, seemingly exasperated." The testimony was "so tedious at times that in the morning session, Judge Scott M. Gordon yawned broadly" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/21).
A FINE MESS: MLB Network's Bob Costas said of the Dodgers: "You don't know about the direction of the franchise, you don't know about the future ownership of the team because the McCourts might eventually … have to divest themselves of the franchise. In the near term, you don’t know how much money they're willing to commit." Costas: "You don't mean to disparage anybody else, but this isn't as if this is happening with the Florida Marlins or something. It's a high-profile mess and … it does seem pretty clear to me that the intention was for Frank McCourt to have control of the Dodgers (when he acquired the team)" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 9/21).