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Thursday, November 5, 2009
Court denies McCourt's bid

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The wife of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt lost her bid Thursday to be reinstated as the team's chief executive during a hearing in the couple's messy divorce.

Jamie McCourt, 55, was fired last month by her husband, who claims she was having an affair with her bodyguard-driver, also a Dodgers employee who was fired, and was doing a poor job in her role as chief executive.

Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon ruled that no state law supports Jamie McCourt's bid to get her job back.

However, Gordon has yet to decide whether the Dodgers are considered community or separate property.

The McCourts are feuding over the validity of their 2004 marital agreement, in which Frank McCourt is listed as the team's sole owner.

"Whether it's valid or not will be a substantial issue," said Gordon, whose chambers have an unobstructed view of Dodger Stadium.

If he rules the team is community property, Jamie McCourt could argue again that she should be reinstated.

Jamie McCourt's attorneys argued during the hearing that she should be reinstated because of her claims that she co-owns the Dodgers. If reinstated, she wants $321,000 a month in spousal support as well as perks such as travel by private jet.

If she isn't reinstated, she is seeking nearly $488,000 a month in support.

The couple's worth is estimated at more than $1.2 billion, according to court documents.

Frank McCourt's attorney, Marc Seltzer, argued that it would create turmoil for the team if his client's wife was renamed chief executive.

"There is no pressing need to change the situation right now," Seltzer told Gordon. "It's a recipe for disaster."

Dennis Wasser, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, countered that she should be reinstated at least until the divorce is resolved.

Frank McCourt, 56, promoted his wife to CEO in March, making her the highest-ranking woman in Major League Baseball. She was fired Oct. 21 and filed for divorce six days later, citing irreconcilable differences.

The McCourts have been married since 1979 and have four grown sons.

The divorce and its impact on the front office threatens to throw the Dodgers' offseason in disarray and crimp the team's ability to re-sign players and pursue free agents.

The Dodgers have 16 players potentially eligible for free agency, including slugger Manny Ramirez, who must decide if he will exercise his $20 million option for next season and return. Manager Joe Torre is entering the final season of his three-year contract.

The team's 2009 payroll was just north of $100 million, ranking ninth-highest in the majors. The Dodgers are currently worth $800 million, according to court documents filed by Jamie McCourt.

Her camp has indicated she has talked with investors in an attempt to buy out her estranged husband.

"This lady eats, lives, breathes Dodgers," Wasser said.

Marshall Grossman, an attorney for the Dodgers, said the divorce proceedings haven't affected the team.

"It truly is business as usual," he said.

In related matters, Gordon removed the team as a party to the McCourts' divorce case because it lacked standing.

Both sides agreed Jamie McCourt can use an indoor swimming pool at the couple's posh Holmby Hills home across the street from the Playboy Mansion between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Another hearing is set for Dec. 15.