Frank McCourt finishes up testimony in Dodgers ownership dispute
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt continued his testimony Friday over the disputed ownership of the team, a part of the divorce case between him and Jamie McCourt.
David Boies, an attorney for Jamie, got in another shot at Frank, asking whether Frank believed it would be “proper, even lawful” to switch the pages of a legal document and change the deal therein without notifying the affected parties.
“Totally immoral,” Frank said.
That enabled Boies to focus on what Jamie considers a critical element in her claim to co-ownership of the Dodgers. Frank claims a 2004 agreement dividing the couple’s assets into his and hers categories grants him sole ownership of the team. But on three of the six signed copies, the exhibits that delineate who owns what specifically excludes the Dodgers from Frank’s separate property.
Frank has argued that the other three copies reflected the couple’s intent to divide their assets into separate property and that the three copies that exclude the Dodgers as his property simply reflect an error by the lawyer who drafted the agreement.
Boies asked Frank whether he would consider the substitution of an exhibit including the Dodgers as his separate property with an exhibit excluding the Dodgers as his separate property as “a switch of exhibits that are important in the agreement.”
“No, sir,” Frank replied.
Frank has argued the exhibits delineating each spouse’s separate property were solely there as a courtesy to the agreement, not an integral part of it.
Boies countered by showing an excerpt from the deposition of Larry Silverstein, the attorney who drafted the agreement. In that April deposition, Boies asked Silverstein whether the parties would need to look at the exhibits to determine who owned the affected property.
“Right, right,” Silverstein said.
Silverstein recently corrected that answer to “no,” Boies said.
Boies showed Frank a copy of the disputed Exhibit A, which in its second paragraph clearly excludes the Dodgers as his separate property.
“Reading this exhibit right here, is it clear to you that what this paragraph two says is that the Dodgers are excluded from your separate property?” Boies asked.
“I can’t answer that question yes or no,” Frank said.
Boies then asked whether the language in that exhibit conflicted with something else in the agreement.
“No, sir,” Frank said.
That answer appeared to be inconsistent with his position that the agreement does indeed make the Dodgers his separate property. After a brief pause, Frank said he wanted to change his answer, but Boies cut him off.
“Mr. McCourt, what was it that happened at your counsel’s table that made you decide to go back on that answer?” Boies said.
But the attorney refused to give Frank a chance to change the answer, moving immediately to a new question.
After court recessed for lunch, Steve Susman, a lawyer for Frank, denied Boies’ insinuation that he was somehow coaching or sending signals to Frank.
“I don’t know what he was talking about,” Susman said of Boies. “That was ridiculous.”
-- Bill Shaikin at Los Angeles Superior Court