A messy, expensive divorce just got more complicated when a judge ruled that Frank McCourt was not the sole owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
L.A. Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon granted Jamie McCourt, once the franchise’s chief executive, rights to half of the Major League Baseball team that has long been the crown jewel of West Coast baseball.
It is expected that McCourt will appeal the court’s ruling on the basis that his ex-wife should not have a claim to the team. According to legal experts, Frank will again argue that because he had purchased the Dodgers prior to his marriage to Jamie, he should be entitled to sole possession of the franchise.
The tricky part here is that the McCourts signed a martial property agreement in March of 2004 that specifically stated that the Dodgers belonged to Frank while the couple’s multiple homes would belong to Jamie. This was done, apparently, so that the couple’s homes would be safe from creditors in the event the Dodgers ever suffered serious financial woes.
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However, as the couple proceeded with their separation, Jamie asked the judge to overturn the agreement on the basis that she never intended to give up her ownership rights to the team. According to her, she never would have signed any document had she known she would lose the company in the event of a divorce.
Upon research, it was discovered the McCourts had prepared six copies of the agreement with three listing Frank as the sole owner of the team and three that didn’t list him as the sole owner of the team.
Larry Silverstein, the Boston lawyer who drew up the agreement, said he made some errors in the documents and was forced to replace the relevent page in the agreement after they signed the document. However, he did not inform either of them about the mistake.
Frank argued in court that while Silverstein made a mistake, ultimately the paperwork gave Jamie what she wanted – zero responsibility for the Dodgers. Jamie, however, countered that argument by saying because there were two versions of the document with “materially opposite terms” there was never a binding agreement.
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And so, as this disgustingly wealthy couple continues to bicker in public over its riches – L.A.’s favorite baseball team once again becomes a bargaining chip in one of the ugliest, most expensive divorces in sports history.