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Frank McCourt attorney: Judge should have no patience with Jamie

April 24, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Former Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt watch a game at Dodger Stadium in April 2005.
Former Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt watch a game at Dodger Stadium… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Jamie McCourt has no claim to half the proceeds from the sale of the Dodgers and no grounds to throw out a divorce settlement never intended to provide her with that, an attorney for Frank McCourt argued in court Wednesday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon heard closing arguments in the matter on Wednesday, then indicated he would not rule before a related procedural hearing on June 5.

The Dodgers were sold for $2 billion last year, five months after Jamie McCourt agreed to settle the couple's divorce by relinquishing any claim to the team in exchange for $131 million. Bob Sacks, an attorney for Frank McCourt, said the deal was "consistent with her risk-averse approach" and made at a time when the Dodgers were fighting Major League Baseball in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

"The upside was uncertain," Sacks said. "It was a risk Frank took and Jamie was isolated from.

"She now wishes she had made a different deal. The court should have no patience for these claims."

Jamie McCourt testified last week that she "thought we were splitting everything 50-50."

Sacks said the settlement language included "nothing intended to suggest ... an equal division of the assets" but did include a provision that specified the McCourts had agreed on the deal "regardless of the value the assets may ultimately have."

Gordon wondered aloud why the parties had not divided tax liabilities equally if they had intended to divide the assets equally. Under the settlement, Frank McCourt provided his ex-wife with tax indemnification and a tax-free payment of $131 million.

Bert Fields, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, said Frank McCourt fraudulently misrepresented the value of the Dodgers on an August 2011 court form in which he listed the worth of the couple's assets as $294 million.

"He didn't add there was an asset out there worth five times that," Fields said.

Fields referred to the opportunity for new owners to launch a Dodgers regional sports network, or RSN, a primary factor in the record sale price.

Sacks said the value of an RSN could not have been included among the couple's assets since no RSN existed at the time. He also said that, before Jamie McCourt signed the settlement, she and her advisors had been provided with research that valued a potential RSN at $1.5 billion.

Fields said Jamie McCourt had not seen the document and might not have understood it if she had, since it contained references to projects Frank McCourt had long since abandoned.

Jamie McCourt testified that she believed her ex-husband knew what the eventual sale price might be but concealed it from her during settlement talks.

Sacks denied that claim and said that the first bid made by Guggenheim Baseball Management -- the winning bidder -- was $1.4 billion. He said that bid came in January 2012, three months after the settlement was reached.

Frank McCourt did not testify during the three-day hearing.

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