SBD/October 5, 2011/Franchises

Judge In Dodgers Case To Hear Arguments Key To McCourt's Claims Against MLB

McCourt's future with Dodgers could be determined by early next month
The ongoing Dodgers bankruptcy case will take a key turn this afternoon when Judge Kevin Gross of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware hears arguments on a discovery issue central to club Owner Frank McCourt's claims of improper MLB animus against him. Gross ruled last Friday that he would not permit discovery into the business operations of other MLB teams, narrowly defining the case and striking a big blow against McCourt. But the Dodgers on Monday moved to have Gross reconsider the ruling, and the judge has permitted a hurriedly scheduled hearing on the matter for today. The discovery issue serves as an important prelude to a four-day evidentiary hearing in the case set to begin Oct. 31 that will likely determine McCourt's future with the club. In the meantime, MLB late yesterday filed an expected objection on the discovery issue, asking Gross to uphold the Friday ruling forbidding the broader discovery. The league argued the Dodgers' pursuit of data on other MLB clubs is at once overly broad, burdensome, improper and an intrusion into a particularly sensitive and proprietary information. "[The Dodgers] and Mr. McCourt both agreed to not challenge the Commissioner's decision-making authority," the league's objection reads in part. "The courts have upheld such non-recourse provisions. Accordingly, there is no basis for the Court to reconsider its discovery ruling to permit discovery that is irrelevant." MLB argues the Dodgers are already violating the order from last Friday by serving the league with an extensive document discovery request that involves data from other teams, and then filing a motion with the court seeking permission for that discovery. "Filing a motion to reconsider does not remedy the [Dodgers'] violation of the Sept. 30 order," MLB stated. "Rather [the Dodgers'] counsel was required to actually obtain relief from the Order before propounding discovery that was prohibited by the Court." Among the 74-point list of documents sought by the Dodgers from MLB is data from all club RSN deals since '03, internal documents relating to the Bryan Stow beating on Opening Day at Dodgers Stadium, and "all documents ... in relation to MLB considering, evaluating or discussing since Jan. 1, 2005, the possible acquisition of the Dodgers by another person or entity."
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