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Arbitrator awards Mike Dunleavy $13 million from the Clippers

The Clippers fired Dunleavy, who served as general manager and coach, in 2010 and stopped paying him. He sued for what was owed under his contract.

June 10, 2011|By Lisa Dillman
  • Mike Dunleavy during a Clippers-Suns game.
Mike Dunleavy during a Clippers-Suns game. (Los Angeles Times )

An arbitrator on Friday awarded a little more than $13 million to former Clippers' general manager and coach Mike Dunleavy, who the team stopped paying when he was fired as general manager in March of last year.

The ruling was issued about 14 months after Dunleavy filed for binding arbitration.

The amount was for everything Dunleavy was owed under his contract, including past compensation with interest and future accelerated compensation, according to people familiar with the ruling but not authorized to talk about it publicly. The opinion also factored in deferred compensation from Dunleavy's tenure with the Clippers.

"We do not agree with the arbitrator's decision," said Clippers general counsel Robert H. Platt, a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. "We intend to review the decision carefully and explore the team's various options."

Dunleavy's attorney, Miles Clements, declined to discuss specifics of the decision but said, "It's a good day."

Dunleavy was not available for comment.

He had been owed $6.75 million on the contract, consisting of $1.35 million for the remainder of the 2009-10 season and $5.4 million for the season just completed. The bulk of the remaining money owed consists of deferred compensation.

His case was heard in April before Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services in Santa Monica. Additional briefs were filed by both sides in May.

Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling has experienced mixed results in litigation this year. He won in March when former team executive Elgin Baylor's wrongful-termination lawsuit against the Clippers was rejected by a Los Angeles jury.

This isn't the first time Sterling has quit paying a former Clippers coach. He even sued Bill Fitch — later settling the suit after a long legal process — asserting that Fitch hadn't been trying to get another job.

That sort of claim was never raised in the Dunleavy case.

Dunleavy's name was in the mix for the Lakers' coaching vacancy, a position recently filled by former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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