SBD/October 6, 2011/Franchises

Judge Unlikely To Overturn Ruling Denying Dodgers Discovery Into Other Team Operations

Judge's ruling is expected to be another setback for McCourt
Embattled Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt is likely facing another legal defeat, as Judge Kevin Gross of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Delaware strongly signaled yesterday he would not overturn his prior ruling forbidding discovery of other MLB team operations. McCourt sought the discovery, particularly with regard to other RSN TV deals, arguing he could not prove improper MLB animus against him without it. But following a two-hour telephonic hearing yesterday on the discovery issue, Gross said he likely will not change course. A formal ruling is expected as soon as today. "To open this up at this point to all of baseball, to the other 29 teams, would be more burdensome than is appropriate, and perhaps not relevant to the issue of bad faith," Gross said. "What I am likely to do is say, 'I am not going to permit the discovery.'" As in other points during the ongoing bankruptcy case, Dodgers attorneys argued that the additional discovery into the other teams was crucial to outlining a pattern of abuse by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig toward the Dodgers. "Without that evidence, our hands are really tied behind our back," said club attorney Sidney Levinson. But MLB attorney Glenn Kurtz countered that the other data was not relevant to the case, a breach of confidentiality, and that the Dodgers did not meet the legal burdens warranting reconsideration by Gross. "Bankrupt guy, liquidity crisis, front-loading [television revenues for personal use]? It hasn't happened once [before]," Kurtz said. The forthcoming ruling significantly colors a crucial evidentiary hearing beginning Oct. 31 in Wilmington that likely will forecast McCourt's future with the Dodgers.

INFIELD SHIFT: Gross, meanwhile, shifted a hearing on MLB's bid to disqualify McCourt's current bankruptcy counsel on conflict-of-interest grounds from that Oct. 31 hearing to a separate session Oct. 12. The Dodgers, in a separate objection yesterday, called that disqualification bid "a blatant tactical maneuver" designed to "cripple" the club in advance of the Oct. 31 hearing. On that score, Gross seemed to concur, saying that he "didn't think very highly of the disqualification motion, to be blunt." The Dodgers are currently represented in the case by Dewey & LeBoeuf and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor.
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