Friday, August 15, 2008
Updated: August 29, 8:51 PM ET
Ex-Sonics owner's lawsuit scheduled for trial in June 2009
SEATTLE -- Former Seattle SuperSonics owner Howard Schultz said he's dropping his lawsuit against new team owner Clay Bennett, ending an attempt to regain ownership of the team that has moved to Oklahoma City.
The Starbucks Corp. CEO filed a motion for dismissal Friday in federal court.
In a letter to former members of his ownership group, Schultz said two recent rulings in his lawsuit have convinced him it's unlikely to succeed.
In a statement Friday from Oklahoma City, Bennett said, "We are pleased to now be able to move on. We look forward to an exciting future of NBA basketball in Oklahoma City."
Last week, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled in Seattle that the NBA could intervene in the lawsuit. She also denied Schultz's motion to split the trial into two separate phases: a liability phase and, if needed, a remedy phase. The trial was scheduled for June 15.
Schultz also said the city of Seattle's settlement with Bennett, allowing the Sonics to move to Oklahoma City in time for the 2008-09 season, hampered his case.
Schultz sold the team to Bennett's ownership group in 2006 for $350 million.
Last April, Schultz sued to regain ownership, contending Bennett failed to carry through on a promise to negotiate in good faith for a new arena in Seattle for one full year.
Schultz had hoped to undo the sale so he could initiate a transfer of the team to a buyer who would keep it in Seattle.
Bennett's lawyers argued that it was "too late to unscramble the eggs," noting that the NBA team is already "firmly embedded in Oklahoma City."