Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Los Angeles Dodgers and the McCourt Divorce

Right now the Los Angeles Dodgers are the children caught in the middle of a very nasty divorce between owners Frank and Jamie McCourt. Both parents want sole custody of the Dodgers, but an agreement signed in 2004, shortly after the McCourts bought the Dodgers, could result in Frank being awarded the team.

This agreement, which split up the couple’s jointly owned property to attempt to protect it from foreclosure by business lenders, specified that all the assets of the Dodgers belonged to Frank separately. Frank, and his lawyers, argue that this is all that is needed to prove that the Dodgers are his.

The problem, according to Jamie, is that she was surprised to learn that she had given away her right to the Dodgers. She swore in an affidavit that “I was never told that by signing the [agreement], I was giving away the Dodgers.” She claims she was misled and trusted Frank to not take advantage of her.

Jamie’s legal team is up against serious odds. It would be hard for a housewife to successfully argue that she didn’t know what she was signing when she signed a contract with her husband. It will be almost impossible for Jamie McCourt to make this argument successfully because she is a lawyer who has handled complicated litigation for the couple’s real estate business. The suggestion that she was misled and did not know what she was signing will be hard for the court to accept.

This divorce has gotten nasty and you can be sure that both sides are racking up significant billable hours by some premier American lawyers. Jamie is even arguing that the document was fraudulently altered, a claim that Frank is denying and plans on calling forensic experts to refute it.

As is often the case, the best option may be for the parents to settle for the sake of the children: both the McCourt’s four sons, and the Dodgers. During this dispute, the Dodgers have been hamstrung in their ability to spend money on player moves. They were largely silent during the offseason and at the trade deadline and have just given away Manny Ramirez on waivers. They have been very average in a winnable division. Hopefully the McCourts can put this mess behind them and the Dodgers can return to their proud tradition of championship baseball.

For more analysis take a look at, Divorce-court drama and the Dodgers, by Lester Munson of ESPN.

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