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Dodgers' argument fails to move bankruptcy judge

Team had argued that the court should examine factors Commissioner Bud Selig had used in weighing other franchises' TV contracts. He rejected a proposed pact for Dodgers.

October 05, 2011|By Bill Shaikin
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt suffered a setback in court Wednesday when a bankruptcy judge denied a team's request for documents about other Major League Baseball teams.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt suffered a setback in court Wednesday when… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

The Dodgers failed again Wednesday to convince U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross that they need documents about other Major League Baseball teams.

"To open this up at this point to all of baseball, to the other 29 teams, would be more burdensome than is appropriate," Gross said, "and perhaps not even relevant to the issue of bad faith."

Gross said he would issue a formal ruling in a day or two but said he did not anticipate reversing his previous order denying the Dodgers access to confidential financial data involving other teams.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt says he has been held to a double standard by Commissioner Bud Selig, most notably by the rejection of a proposed television contract. The Dodgers argued the court should examine what factors Selig used in approving or rejecting the contracts of other teams in order to determine whether the commissioner treated McCourt in good faith.

Dodgers attorney Sid Levinson suggested that Selig wanted to force McCourt to sell the Dodgers rather than evaluate the proposed television contract on its merits. He said the commissioner should be required to provide documents to back up his claim that the proposed television contract would have hurt the other 29 MLB clubs, and that Selig should show how other owners take distributions from their clubs to support his allegation that McCourt has "siphoned off" more than $180 million from the Dodgers.

MLB attorney Glenn Kurtz said Selig's decisions regarding the television contracts of other clubs were not relevant. "Bankrupt guy, liquidity crisis, front-loading [the television money for personal use]?" Kurtz said. "It hasn't happened once."

Kurtz said Selig's authority to approve television contracts was "not challengeable." Gross leaned toward MLB on that score, noting that the position of commissioner had been established by owners after the Black Sox scandal.

"They wanted to put in a man to rule MLB like a dictator," Gross said.

A key hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 when, the judge said, he would hear from McCourt, Selig, Fox Sports, the official creditors' committee, a committee of season-ticket holders and Jamie McCourt.

Jamie McCourt, the ex-wife of Frank McCourt, claims half-ownership of the Dodgers and wants them sold.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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