GUGGENHEIM’S DODGERS ORDERED TO REVEAL SECRET $ ARRANGEMENT IN JAMIE’S DIVORCE WITH FRANK

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Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Jamie McCourt wants California’s family law courts to throw out her $131-million divorce settlement.  That’s why, according to the Los Angeles Times, the new owners of the Dodgers must reveal their financial arrangements with Jamie’s ex-husband/partner, Frank McCourt.  Got that?  We’re pretty sure Frank does too.

According to the Times article earlier this month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon denied the Dodgers request to seal a summary of the team’s deal with Frank McCourt.  The judge ordered the document to be made publicly available June 17, unless Guggenheim Baseball Management succeeds in an appeal before then.

Jamie McCourt’s attorney, Bert Fields, believes the financial summary could reveal that the deal was worth more than the Dodgers publicly announced sales price of $2.15 billion.  “It shows Mr. McCourt got value way beyond $2 billion.”  And that somebody totally got ripped off in their settlement negotiations.

In her request to have Judge Gordon throw out her divorce settlement, Jamie alleged that Frank fraudulently misled her about the value of the Dodgers and their assets.  Frank denies this charge.  And he also denies extraterrestrials run the White House.

Last year, Guggenheim paid $2 billion for the Dodgers, while an affiliated entity financed the purchase of the land surrounding Dodger Stadium for $150 million.  The accompanying financial arrangements Guggenheim attempted to seal include data about how Frank and Guggenheim were to share profits from the joint investment venture, which is the crux of this whole magilla.

In court, Guggenheim argued that financial disclosure would harm the Dodgers ability to lure another sports team to the Dodger Stadium site.  (Guggenheim’s ownership has since admitted that it is indeed in talks with the NFL about building a stadium on the stated site.)

Although Staples Center owner AEG still has plans to bring the NFL to South Park, the NFL has made it abundantly clear it has its tiny, greedy, little heart set on Chavez Ravine.  As a side note, the NFL made no mention of all the profits to be made – by everyone, except I guess poor, hungry Jamie – from the Chavez Ravine site.

JAMIE MCCOURT MOVES TO SET ASIDE DODGERS SETTLEMENT WITH FRANK

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According to the Los Angeles Times, Jamie McCourt, the former wife of the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Frank McCourt, plans to set aside the couple’s divorce settlement, claiming Frank vastly understated the value of the team that sold earlier this year for more than $2 billion, the most money ever paid for a pro franchise.

According to Jamie’s attorney, Bert Fields, Jamie “thought” long and hard about whether to do this, but, obviously dollar figures danced in her visions.  Frank got about “93 percent of the family assets, and Mrs. McCourt got about 7 percent,” Fields was quoted as saying.  “We would’ve much preferred to have this massive imbalance resolved with some modification, but we got no response to that approach.  We didn’t want to have more family litigation, but now it’s up to the court.”

The motion that was filed last Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court claims Frank committed fraud by misrepresenting the couple’s Dodgers’ assets as worth less than $300 million during their protracted divorce.

The couple divorced in October 2010.  At the time, Jamie settled for $131 million.  The motion just filed, claims that after the sale and subtraction of relevant debts, Frank’s assets turned out to be worth $1.7 billion, well over 10 times what Jamie received.  The motion further requests that even if Frank’s figures were the result of mistakes rather than fraud, the settlement should be tossed out on the basis of those errors.  A hearing on the motion to set aside the divorce settlement was scheduled for November 16th.

MCCOURTS SETTLE IN EFFORT TO KEEP LOS ANGELES DODGERS

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The good news is, according to the Ventura County Star, that two years and three days after Frank and Jamie McCourt issued a statement to announce their separation, they have issued another statement asserting they’ve actually agreed on something else: how to settle the property issues in their divorce case.

The bad news of course is that this does not bode well for true blue-blood Los Angeles Dodger fans everywhere.

That’s because this is being done with one purpose in mind.  So Frank can narrow his beady little sites on beating Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig for ownership of the Dodgers.

Per the agreement, Jamie would get about $130 million and relinquish any claim she might have to a share of the Dodgers.  In turn, Frank, without Jamie as an obstacle to his plan of selling the Dodgers’ television rights in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, appears set for a winner-take-all court showdown for the Dodgers with MLB and Selig.

The proposed settlement would conclude what many are calling the costliest divorce in California history.  The McCourts have already incurred $20.6 million in legal bills related to the divorce.  It was estimated it would cost at least another $14 million to settle the outstanding dispute over whether the Dodgers were Frank’s sole property or community property.

Now, for Frank to keep the Dodgers, he needs U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross to deny Selig’s request and to grant an auction of the Dodgers’ television rights.  In the absence of the pending settlement, Frank could not have kept the team without defeating Selig in Bankruptcy Court, then beating Jamie in divorce court regarding the issue of whether the Dodgers were or were not community property.

The sad part in all this is now both Frank and Jamie can no longer use the Dodgers as their own personal piggy bank for financing their lavish existence.  In her initial pleadings regarding the divorce, Jamie described how the couple drew combined salaries of $7 million per year, plus $46 million to buy side-by-side oceanfront estates in Malibu to bookend the $27 million side-by-side homes they bought near the Playboy Mansion.  There were also properties in Massachusetts, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and Mexico, not to mention the $400 dinner and $1,000 per-night hotels, the private jet travel, and house calls from makeup artists and hairdressers.

It’s no wonder Frank’s holding on so hard to maintain ownership of our beloved Dodgers.  And why Dodger fans everywhere continue to suffer the hardened fate of mediocrity.

MCCOURTS TO SETTLE DODGERS OWNERSHIP ISSUE – NEXT YEAR

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If you’re a Los Angeles Dodgers fan and you were hoping for a quick fix to your fantasy woes, sorry, but no such luck.  The Los Angeles Times has reported that Frank and Jamie McCourt won’t be settling their divorce case any time soon.

In fact, it is expected that the bigger question of who actually owns the Dodgers will be decided by fire and trial during the 2012 baseball season.  So there probably won’t be any pitching upgrades or big expensive bats added to the lineup before then.

The McCourts’ trial is expected to last for more than a month.  Of course the ultimate resolution of the baseball ownership shenanigans won’t be decided before they resolve the issues that rest before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.  “Until it gets out of bankruptcy,” Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon said, “the baseball team cannot be sold by this court.”

The 2012 trial is expected to resolve all remaining issues between the couple, which includes team ownership, permanent support, and division of assets.  The trial will probably be the most expensive, if not complex, part of this litigation.  Attorneys’ fees in the case are expected to approach the $35 million mark.

However, Frank did score a major victory in court last Wednesday when both sides agreed he would only have to pay a paltry $225,000 per month in temporary spousal support to Jamie, replacing the $412,000 per month he had been paying.  Poor Jamie.  What’s a woman to do?  Certainly not go out and hire a big bat that might make the team more competitive on the field.  That would be too easy.

$35 MILLION REASONS TO TRY COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

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We don’t all have to be like Frank and Jamie McCourt when it comes to divorce.  We don’t have to battle it out in court, in front of the media, and face the daily scrutiny of a world that watches our every move.  In fact, divorces don’t have to be adversarial at all.  To the McCourts, and everyone out there who believes there must be a better way to resolve issues in a divorce than through intense litigation – there is.  It’s called Collaborative Divorce, and there are at least $35 million reasons reasonable adults my want to go this route.

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

Collaborative Divorce is a family law sub-specialty that gives people like you, Frank, or Jamie an effective way to resolve your divorce – and other family law issues – in a respectful, dignified manner.  This means neither you nor your lawyer would ever have the need to go to court.  It also means that you and your spouse will never be treated as opposing parties in an adversarial and hostile litigation process.  Instead, the two of you would be able to retain full control of your divorce case.

Your Collaborative attorney can guide you through all the issues that need to be addressed, and they can work diligently with your spouse’s Collaborative lawyer to settle your case.  Your Collaborative attorney will sift through the parties’ differing perspectives and help you develop reasonable alternatives.  You and your spouse will make all the decisions.  The resulting agreement will truly be yours – not one that has been imposed upon you.

The Collaborative Experience

Through the entire collaborative process, lawyer and client work together through each step in searching for a fair settlement for both parties and the entire family.  This is accomplished through a series of meetings between the two parties and their lawyers, and sometimes other neutral experts on an as need basis.

The primary focus of the four-way meetings is to identify your priorities, goals, needs, and interests, and to help you progress toward and create a settlement that is consistent with both spouses’ priorities, goals, needs, and interests.  You make your own decisions based on your own standards, and the Collaborative attorneys provide the professional expertise based on many years of experience and training.

Next time, Frank and Jamie, please consider a Collaborative Divorce, so we, the public don’t have to listen to all your dirty laundry.  There are at least 35 million good reasons to do so.

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