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McCourts face off in divorce court over ownership of the L.A. Dodgers [Updated]

A lawyer for Jamie McCourt set the tone Monday when he opened court proceedings in her divorce from Frank McCourt by quoting Sir Walter Scott: "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

At issue is ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which the McCourts took over in 2004, when the baseball organization announced "Frank and Jamie McCourt were confirmed as the fourth owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers..." 

The question is does he own the team or do they own it jointly? Frank McCourt wants the court to enforce a post-marital agreement -- signed in 2004 by both spouses -- that says he is the sole owner of the team and that she is the sole owner of the couple's homes. But Jamie argues that the agreement should be thrown out.

There are two different versions of the agreement that the McCourts signed dividing their properties.

Everyone agreed there was a switch of crucial documents outlining who owned what, said Jamie McCourt's attorney, Dennis Wasser. But was it a "clerical error," as Frank McCourt's lawyers maintain, or deception, as Wasser argued?

[Updated at 12:45 p.m.: Steve Susman, Frank McCourt's attorney, argued Monday that Jamie McCourt would like to be "the first divorce lawyer to claim she didn't understand her own postnuptial agreement."  

He mocked that argument in his opening statement, repeatedly citing Jamie McCourt's credentials as an MBA graduate from MIT, a business executive and an attorney who once practiced family law.

Susman also repeated that the agreement in question was her idea, that she insisted she did not want to own any part of the Dodgers so she would not risk losing a "nest egg" worth about $80 million should Frank McCourt fail to reverse the Dodgers' financial losses.

"She didn't trust Frank's business judgment," Susman said.

He added: "Frank was willing to put his entire fortune on the line for the Dodgers. Jamie was not willing to risk anything."

Susman dismissed as "desperation" the contention by Jamie McCourt's lawyers that Frank McCourt had pulled a "fraudulent switcheroo" because three of the six copies of the agreement included the Dodgers as community property. The agreement was subsequently changed to specify the Dodgers were Frank's property.

"Jamie is seeking to twist a simple drafting error into some massive fraud," Susman said.

Susman said he would put on six witnesses that could each testify being told by Jamie that she wanted no part of the Dodgers. Susman said Jamie McCourt had "put not a penny of cash in" the $421-million deal to buy the Dodgers and said she had wondered aloud how her husband, who had never run a baseball team, could make money from the Dodgers when Rupert Murdoch could not. (Frank McCourt bought the Dodgers from Murdoch's News Corp.)

"Frank could have been upside-down in a second," Susman said. "He believed in himself and the Dodgers. Jamie McCourt wanted total and complete immunity from the downside risk. When you don't share in the risk, you don't share in the upside."

Susman urged the court to uphold the agreement rather than countenance the notion of a "highly educated, wealthy divorce lawyer keeping themselves from being bound by the terms of an agreement they themselves proposed and signed."

Susman also noted Jamie McCourt had expressed concern about the risk should Frank McCourt had succeeded in previous pursuits to buy the Boston Red Sox and the Angels. He lost in bidding for the Red Sox and, according to Susman, the Angels bid "became moot because Frank was late to the negotiating table."]

-- Carla Hall and Bill Shaikin at L.A. County Superior Court in downtown L.A.

Photo: Jamie McCourt arrives at the downtown L.A. courthouse Monday. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (25)

Personally I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the McCourts for all that they've done to the Dodgers.

I'm a Padres fan!

God, I know you are a Dodgers fan. Please make the sale happen! We need new ownership!

So you're a Pads fan, eh.
Like John and Becky Moores did soooo much more for the Padres.

Somebody, anybody, please buy this team before these 2 idiots & their lawyers totally destroy what's left of a once proud franchise.
In the meantime, GO PADRES!

Frank didnt put a dime into buying the Dodgers either

Fox financed the whole deal

I couldn't agree with you more Jim!

I'm an Angel fan though . . . :)

Wow the rich really are different...and funny - LOL

I hope the judge orders these two clowns to sell the Dodgers and the McCourts must leave LA

Bring back the O'Malley's! They knew how to run and nurture an organization.

What did the McCourts do for the Pudrays but give them a chance to get crushed in the playoffs. Puds wont be back next year because they wont pay their players. Heck they tried to get rid of Gonzales before this season. Have your fun but it wont last. Next year the rains return pud lover.

Considering the size of LA. It is second only to NYC, if it is that. Then it should be the second most successful franchise, not only in Baseball, but in all of sports. People keep trying to make money off of sport teams when in reality they are nothing but a rich man or woman`s toy. Fox and frank didn`t know that. But give him credit for deluding the fans of LA into believing all of his LIES. There are only two ways we will ever see a World Series Flag flying where it should be,DODGER STADIUM and that is if frank can find a way to either get players to play more inexpensively and he can profit at least 75% of the proceeds or the absolute sure way is for the LIAR to sell.......

From the NLCS 2 years in a row, to missing the playoffs entirely. That's a great job by the McCourts, I hope the judge forces them to sell the team. I hear Mark Cuban is in the market for a baseball team...

What a couple of self centered whackos !!!

The McCourts, Manny on womens fertility drugs, $15 to park your car, the dodgers are the biggest joke, not only in baseball but all of sports!!!

Where is Peter O'Malley now that we really need him???

Thank God he didn't buy the Angels!

Why would eather one want the Dodgers?

A man in court will always loose when it comes to divorce. No matter what the reason or cause. That is just how the law works.

It really doesn't matter if JMac ever claimed she wanted no part of the Dodgers. And it doesn't matter if one spouse doesn't contribute to a source of income accrued during the course of the marriage; that's why it's called community property.
We're supposed to believe that an incredibly successful businessman had his lawyers draw up community property papers, and in three of the six documents, the lawyers accidentally included a billion-dollar enterprise.
This is all quite clear to me, and I attended law school for exactly zero days.


I actually feel a little sorry for frank, being a small business man myself. Maybe once or twice in a lifetime you have the opportunity and take your business to the next level,achieve great wealth, and leave a company your children can run. It's obvious this deal (buying the Dodgers) was WAY over his head. You can't fault him for trying. but at the same time, Karma is not something to play with. from all the recent articles I have read, sounds like Frank and Jamie pissed off many people while pursuing there dreams..Now Greed has taken common sense away from a couple who has been married close to 30 years, each not willing to settle, and both seem willing to tarnish the Dodgers image. If you (Frank and Jamie) really cared about the Dodgers just settle and move on..

This woman is bitter over the divorce proceedings. It's not that hard folks, you either bought the team or you didn't, why is that so hard to recall. Something tells me that he is telling the truth, since when would a woman be so interested in buying a baseball team. I believe it's a man that would be more inclined to do such a thing. In any event, if she did not contribute to the cost of buying the team, she needs to move on (period). My advice to her is, let the man go on with his life, and just walk away anyway at the end we take nothing with us when we die. I suggest she go out and get a facelift (a complete makeover, find herself a nice guy, have fun and start her life over with whatever she does have left from the marriage, sure beats giving it all away to her attorney. After all life is too short. Use whatever time you have left to enjoy your life, not fight over meaningless rights, which at the end amount to nothing more than material things.

I must say the McCourts have to be some of the smartest owners in the world. They have all of Los Angeles still buying tickets to that wreck of a team. They could send out a carbon copy of the Indians and still make beaucoup money. In 5 years after all of the brown nosers leave management of the Dodgers and they are in last place, the fools in LA will still go 3.5 million strong to see the worst team in baseball. The best thing that really could happen is if Fox had to take back the Dodgers and sold them to me. I would put a 25 million dollar team out there and strip the minors bare and before you know I can still sell the team at a profit. I mean who cares if some millionaires are fighting it out, lets hope they both lose and the city wins.

this is just disgraceful and shows you where are country is headed to. greed greed and more greed. they don't seem any different than the wiseguys on wal-street, i'm all for making money but what these 2 did and how they did this i can't believe they are not in jail. we can ask bruce mcnall, peter pollington and even go back to lenord tose and the sullivans how to ruin and bankrup a frachise

Where's AEG when we need them?

Ah, they've cut Manny loose. Admittedly, his performance has been sliding, but, there's an upside......the Dodgers save $4.3M. That'll cover Jamie's monthly support for what, 6 months !! If they cut a few of the better players, they can cover both of their outrageous life-styles until the divorce proceedings are concluded.

Dr. Buss, PLEASE don't let either of these monumentally self-centered idiots buy an interest in the Lakers.



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