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Who owns the Dodgers? May 24 trial date is set to settle McCourt feud

Lawyer for Jamie McCourt calls into question Frank McCourt's bookkeeping and promises 'bombshell' allegations against him.

December 16, 2009|By Bill Shaikin

As a May 24 trial date was set to determine who owns the Dodgers, the lawyer for Jamie McCourt called into question Frank McCourt's bookkeeping and promised "bombshell" allegations against him.

"Mr. McCourt is not spending all of his income on his family and on the team," attorney Dennis Wasser said at Tuesday's hearing.

Wasser declined to elaborate, other than to say he intends to present those allegations to debunk McCourt's claims that he is low on cash.

Wasser opened his statement by saying that Frank McCourt had contracted RAIDS: "recently acquired income deficiency syndrome."

"It's an illness many people seem to have in dissolution cases," Wasser said. "We need to explore that illness and the basis of it."

Marc Seltzer, who represents Frank McCourt, countered later Tuesday in a statement: "Mr. Wasser's comments using an acronym for an illness are shameful, insensitive and reflect very poorly on Mrs. McCourt and her legal team."

In Tuesday's hearing, Los Angeles County Commissioner Scott Gordon set May 24 for the trial to determine the validity of a 2004 agreement that provides Frank McCourt with sole ownership of the Dodgers and Jamie McCourt with sole ownership of the couple's residential properties.

Jamie McCourt claims that the agreement is not valid and that she is a co-owner of the team. Frank McCourt fired her as the team's chief executive in October.

Sorrell Trope, an attorney for Frank McCourt, estimated the trial would take 10 days. Wasser estimated the trial would take 15 to 20 days.

Frank McCourt had asked for a trial date in February, citing the urgency of resolving the matter on behalf of the Dodgers.

"This manufactured cloud that Jamie McCourt is trying to place over the ownership of the Dodgers is being used in a disruptive way," Seltzer said.

Jamie McCourt had asked for a fall trial date. Wasser disputed the allegation that lengthy divorce proceedings could disrupt the Dodgers' business operations.

"Mr. McCourt fired his chief executive officer and 18 other people," Wasser said. "That's the disruption. Not the divorce."

Gordon also set a hearing on spousal support for March 29.

Wasser claimed that Frank McCourt's lawyers have been unable or unwilling to produce requested documents, including cash flow statements for this year.

"There has been game-playing in this case," Wasser said. "It is not baseball. It is hide and seek."

Seltzer said that the financial statements for the current year do not yet exist and that his side has submitted more than 35,000 pages of documents to Jamie McCourt's lawyers.

They have not challenged the delivery of some documents that might otherwise have been challenged, he said, "precisely to avoid the argument there should be a delay."

The spousal support hearing tentatively had been scheduled for April 5, but Trope asked Gordon for another date because the Dodgers will open the 2010 season that day in Pittsburgh.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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