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McCourts given a Friday deadline in divorce settlement talks

Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon gives Dodgers owner and his ex-wife one last chance to settle or negotiations will be declared at impasse.

June 16, 2011|By Bill Shaikin
  • A Los Angeles Superior Court judge says Jamie and Frank McCourt have until Friday morning to reach a divorce settlement.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge says Jamie and Frank McCourt have until… (Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles…)

Frank and Jamie McCourt have until Friday morning to reach a divorce settlement, or Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon said he would declare the negotiations at impasse.

Gordon initially declared an impasse late Thursday afternoon, at the end of the last of four scheduled mediation sessions, when an attorney for Frank McCourt said his client had agreed to a deal and the attorney for Jamie McCourt said there was no deal.

After a brief meeting with both attorneys, Gordon agreed to give the parties one last chance to settle overnight.

"I think we are close," said Dennis Wasser, the attorney for Jamie McCourt.

A settlement would likely leave Frank McCourt in control of the Dodgers, at least temporarily. It is unclear how a payment to Jamie McCourt would be funded and what would happen if Commissioner Bud Selig declines to approve the long-term television contract with Fox that Frank McCourt has said is critical to the Dodgers' financial success.

Frank McCourt has "no chance" to meet the Dodgers' June 30 payroll without approval of the Fox contract, according to people familiar with the situation who could not speak publicly because of the potential for litigation. If he fails to make payroll, Selig could seize the team and put it up for sale.

In addition, Selig's office is nearing the end of an investigation into the Dodgers' operations, one that Frank McCourt has said would have a "predetermined" outcome so as to force him from ownership.

In the absence of a settlement, Gordon would go ahead with a Wednesday hearing at which Jamie McCourt would ask him to order the immediate sale of the Dodgers and Frank McCourt would ask for a ruling that Jamie McCourt could not challenge the Fox contract.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

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