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Jamie McCourt's attorneys: Call her a partner, Frank

Mccourt_240 Frank McCourt might have to become business partners with his ex-wife in order to keep the Dodgers in the family, her attorneys said Tuesday.

With the Dodgers set to report to spring training in three weeks, the legal battle to determine who owns the team is about to envelop a second season.

After a procedural court hearing on Tuesday, attorneys for Jamie McCourt said they would soon assert what they said were her rights as co-owner of the team.

"That is not to say she is going to appear on the first day of the season and say, "I'm here; I'm firing people,' " attorney Dennis Wasser said.

Instead, in trying to assure her interest in the value of the team is protected, Jamie is likely to ask for the Dodgers' most recent financial results and projections, including information on discussions with Fox for a new television deal.

Jamie bases her claim to co-ownership on the decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon to throw out an agreement that would have granted Frank sole ownership of the team.

Sorrell Trope, an attorney for Frank, said Jamie is not a co-owner. Trope said Gordon’s decision was limited to the validity of the agreement and that Frank would continue to own and run the team until another trial could determine whether the team is community property.

Trope said Frank would soon decide whether to appeal Gordon’s decision or proceed directly to that new trial. Wasser said such a trial might not start before spring training opens — in 2012.

"You're not going to see the McCourts in trial for at least a year, and probably more," he said.

The two sides have not held settlement negotiations since Gordon issued his ruling on Dec. 7.

Wasser said Frank and Jamie might have to agree to work together — as co-owners, perhaps with additional investors — in order to keep the Dodgers in the family.

"If this trial continues … I don't think there's any hope for the family or the Dodgers," Wasser said.

Steve Sugerman, the spokesman for Frank, declined to respond to that comment.

Trope said he could not say whether Frank might consider working with Jamie. In an August interview, another attorney for Frank ruled out that possibility.

"Frank does not want to become business partners with his former wife," attorney Steve Susman said then.

A joint venture between the McCourts would relieve Frank of an immediate obligation to buy out Jamie, but such an agreement would not ease the Dodgers' stiff debt load.

The Dodgers have taken a cash advance from Fox to pay current operating expenses. Frank met with Major League Baseball officials this month to outline his financial plan, but he did not receive assurances of support. Commissioner Bud Selig has the right to veto any television deal or new investors in the Dodgers.

Trope declined to discuss whether Frank could continue to fund the Dodgers through what could be additional years of litigation.

"I don’t get involved in his pocketbook," Trope said.

David Boies, an attorney for Jamie, said the prospect of MLB intervention could trigger the resumption of settlement talks. Boies acknowledged that a partnership between the McCourts to operate the Dodgers — so that their four sons might someday run the team -- might not be a popular resolution.

"The thing that would be best for Frank and Jamie and their children, in my opinion, isn't necessarily the best for Los Angeles and for the Dodgers," Boies said.

 -- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Frank and Jamie McCourt. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (19)

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sell the team.
stop keeping dodgers fans hostage.

Dear McCourts..

This is not a squabble over vacation homes, or stock and investment portfolios..

The Dodgers are a civic instituion that belongs to everyone.. Yes you have the right to own the team, which is a sacred trust, but no you do not have the right to use the team as a pawn for your own selfish game of one upsmanship.

If Bud Selig and MLB are truly guardians of the game, they will intervene and have this team sold.

This is shameful behavior by both parties and the only people affected are Dodger fans who have seen their team go from contender to a budget strapped, mid market also ran.

Hey look Bud!! Frank say's I am an owner!!

No, that's exactly what Judge Gordon's ruling means: The Dodgers are community property. Only a willful child or an idiot doesn't accept losing.

Bud's as big a joke as Frank and Jamie!

Johnny hit the nail on the head.

The longer Bud Selig and MLB wait to intervene, the bigger the mess they will have on their hands.

The McCourts are up to their eyeballs in debt and the organization is in a death spiral.

Frank & Jamie have bled the Dodgers dry and are incapable or righting the ship.

"The thing that would be best for Frank and Jamie and their children, in my opinion, isn't necessarily the best for Los Angeles and for the Dodgers," Boies said.

What more do you want Selig!? If this was the Yankees or the Red Sox Bud would have stepped in months ago and forced a sale.

The Dodgers no longer bleed blue, but red, as in ink. Bankruptcy may not be out of the question.

I sincerely hope the Dodgers are sold to somebody who actually cares about the team and its fans. The sooner Vampire Frank and Vampire Jamie are out of the picture, the better for everyone.

Ok..Can we please put a tent over this CIRCUS??? Dodger Fans.. WHY hasn't BUD SELIG spoken up- ORDER FRANK MCCOURT to SELL the TEAM! I just don't understand why MLB has not stepped in sooner? Think about it... The judge has made his ruling. You have a STUBBORN IGNORANT OWNER who will not come to his senses. I am sicked by all this and MLB NEEDS TO STEP IN NOW AND FORCE THE SALE OF THE TEAM! I will speed dial BUD tomorrow morning to give him a EAR FULL!

Every time I think I've heard everything and things can't get any worse, something new rears its ugly head and things DO get worse.

California is a community property state. That's the law. Judge Scott Gordon threw out the MPA and that automatically makes the team community property. It should be as simple as that. Did I miss something?

I decided for sure in December to boycott Dodger Stadium starting with the 2011 season and until Frank McScum sells the team. I STRONGLY encourage ALL Dodger fans to do the same. The only thing McScum understands is money, so if we hit him where it will hurt the most -- in the bank account -- he will theoretically have no choice but to sell. Any questions?

This whole situation makes me sad to be a fan of this once proud organization. It was so bad last season, I even found myself cheering for the Giants during the playoffs. I wish the Judge would have sentenced the Mccourts to the death, but we all know that california doesnt have a capital punishment. Mabye we can extradite them to Utah so they can be put in front of a firing squad. Of course this is all said in parody.

I am surprised that up to this point the one stone Frank has left unturned for revenue is the stadium naming rights. "Chico's Bail Bonds Park" has a certain ring to it, don't you think?

Of course Jamie's attorneys would argue that she's the co-owner, but that's not the way it appears on the MLB paperwork. She has no interest in professional acknowledgment that she's the owner, she has an interest in continuing the use of the Dodgers as her personal ATM.

The idea Frank could contemplate working with Jamie is literally unbelievable. Ask any man with an ego bigger than an ant if he would work with his ex he just divorced, which cost him many millions, because she was sleeping with another man, and i'll show you a guy who ought to be exhibited in a museum as a freak.

As for an instant solution to our troubles, i vote Andrew.

...I thought Rupert and his NewsCorp was a bad deal for Los Angeles. The McCourt's trump that exponentially. How do you destroy a storied franchise? This divorce war will be a textbook study on that.

I just want to see the taxi driver end up with everything.

Oh, god; I barely get the Dodgers signal in San Diego, and would love them to go back to KFI as they did in the age of the late Danny Kaye; as I've said, the only great thing about the Dodgers is their stadium and Vince Scully. That is no thanks to McCourt and his former wife. Stop the bleeding and get an owner that knows the Dodgers and not this faux owner, please.

If Frank McCourt will have his wife as his business partner, then it will be a good thing for their acquaintanceship to last and not be broken.


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