SBD/Issue 56/Franchises

McCourts' Divorce Case Drags On After Jamie Rejects Settlement

Judge In McCourts' Divorce Case Has Until
Jan. 18 To Rule On Dodgers Ownership

Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt and his estranged wife, Jamie, faced a noon PT deadline yesterday "to consider a proposal to settle their divorce case," and while Frank accepted the proposal, Jamie "turned it down," according to Shaikin & Hall of the L.A. TIMES. That "could leave the issue of who owns the Dodgers in limbo into the new year, and perhaps beyond." The McCourts "now await a ruling" from L.A. Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon "on the validity of a marital agreement that would provide Frank with sole ownership of the Dodgers." Gordon "has until Jan. 18 to rule." It was "originally thought Gordon had until Dec. 28 to rule," but a court spokesperson said that the 90-day clock "did not start until the sides submitted post-trial briefs in October." L.A. Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman, "who worked for two months as the mediator in the case, declared the two sides at impasse," and he "ordered both sides not to discuss the particulars of his settlement proposal, or the mediation process." Marc Seltzer, an attorney for Frank, in a statement said his client had accepted the proposal because he considered it the "responsible thing to do for his family, the Dodgers organization and the entire community." Seltzer's statement "stunned Jamie's lawyers, who said they believed that Lichtman's order prevented them even from confirming that Jamie had rejected the proposal." Shaikin & Hall note in any settlement, Frank "would be expected to retain control of the Dodgers and Jamie would be expected to receive a payout." L.A.-based family law attorney Lisa Helfend Meyer said that the statement issued by Seltzer "enabled Frank to portray himself as a sensible team owner and portray Jamie as 'the greedy person'" (L.A. TIMES, 12/1). FANHOUSE.com's Jon Weinbach noted there will "still be uncertainty about the Dodgers' future ownership ... no matter how Gordon rules." Frank is "expected to appeal if Gordon rules in Jamie's favor, and evidence submitted in the case raised serious questions about Frank's financial resources and the team's massive debts" (FANHOUSE.com, 11/30).

SWINGING AWAY: The Dodgers this offseason already have signed free agent SS Juan Uribe and Ps Jon Garland and Ted Lilly, and ESPN's Buster Olney said, "What a difference a year makes, because you remember last offseason. Because the McCourts were just starting to go through their divorce, the Dodgers' payroll was essentially on lockdown and this offseason with the $21M they gave Uribe, with the $5M they gave Jon Garland, with the $33M they gave Ted Lilly, the Dodgers have been the most aggressive team in baseball this offseason, spending about $60M" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/30).

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