Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Impasse for Frank, Jamie McCourt
LOS ANGELES -- A judge declared an impasse Tuesday over efforts to settle who owns the Los Angeles Dodgers after a bitter divorce between the couple who bought the team six years ago.
Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman had given both sides more than a week to accept a settlement proposal, which was kept confidential.
Lichtman declared an impasse and reported it to Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon, who presided over an 11-day trial that centered on whether a postnuptial marital agreement is valid, said court spokeswoman Patricia Kelly.
Attorney Marc Seltzer, who represents Frank McCourt, said in a statement that his client accepted the proposal by Lichtman.
"He felt it was the responsible thing to do for his family, the Dodgers organization and the entire community," Seltzer said.
An impasse occurs when two sides are unable to reach an agreement, which likely means Jamie McCourt rejected the proposal, Seltzer said. Lichtman wasn't going to inform either side if the other hadn't accepted the deal.
Michael Kump, a lawyer for Jamie McCourt, couldn't say if his client agreed or declined the proposal.
"We believe the court ordered complete confidentiality regarding the settlement proposal and everything related to it," Kump said. "It would be a violation if we said anything at all."
The McCourts' divorce recently was finalized after the couple were married for nearly 30 years. They have four grown sons.
The McCourts are awaiting Gordon's decision on whether a postnuptial marital agreement they signed in 2004 is valid. The 10-page document exists in two versions: one that gives Frank McCourt sole ownership of the Dodgers, the stadium and the surrounding property, worth hundreds of millions of dollars; and one that doesn't.
A family attorney testified during the divorce trial that he changed a key portion of the marital agreement that went from excluding the Dodgers from Frank McCourt's separate property to including the team, and didn't tell the couple.
Jamie McCourt, who filed for divorce in October 2009, wants the agreement thrown out and their assets divided as community property. She believes she was the team's co-owner and would never have signed away her purported stake in the Dodgers had she known the agreement took it from her.
Frank McCourt has argued the pact was his wife's idea so she could protect her separate property -- a group of opulent homes -- from his business creditors.
The McCourts lavish spending habits and their business acumen with the Dodgers has been on full display. Legal bills alone are estimated to surpass $20 million.
Dodger fans had complained Frank McCourt was unwilling to spend money to improve the team, but so far this off-season he has acquired ex-Padres pitcher John Garland, Giants infielder Juan Uribe and hurlers Hiroki Kuroda and Ted Lilly.
Gordon has until Jan. 19 to issue his ruling, Kelly said.