SBD/October 10, 2011/Franchises

Dodgers Denied Ability To Take Legal Discovery Against Other Teams

Judge ruling seen as blow to McCourt's case against MLB
The Dodgers, as expected, were again denied the ability to take legal discovery into the other 29 MLB teams after Judge Kevin Gross of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware declined late Friday to overturn his prior ruling on the issue. Confirming strong signals he gave following a Oct. 5 hearing, Gross said granting the club's discovery requests would be overly burdensome. "The Court's focus is and shall remain on [the Dodgers] and Mr. McCourt on one hand, and the Commissioner on the other. The discovery [the Dodgers] seek would improperly shift the spotlight to the 29 other teams," Gross wrote in the ruling. "Likewise, the Commissioner's relationship with [the Dodgers], including his refusal to approve the media rights sale, is what's at issue, not what 29 other teams have done and/or have not done, and why the Commissioner approved or rejected their requests. [The Dodgers] either breached or didn't breach the Baseball Agreements -- the actions of other teams do not bear upon the issue." The decision comes in advance of a key evidentiary hearing beginning Oct. 31 in Wilmington which could outline what, if any, future McCourt will have with the Dodgers.

BLOW TO MCCOURT: The re-confirmed decision Friday represents another significant blow to McCourt, who wanted the other data to more clearly show an alleged pattern of abuse by Commissioner Bud Selig against the Dodgers. But Gross did leave the club a sliver of hope in the decision, saying that should MLB fail to show how the Dodgers have violated league agreements, as the league claims, he may allow "further, limited discovery." MLB is citing numerous violations of league agreements as grounds for its recent motion to expel McCourt from the league and have the team sold. But with Gross more specifically shifting the burden of proof to the league, the Dodgers will continue to argue that they have a plan to exit bankruptcy that is being wrongly blocked by the league.
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