- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- Donald Sterling will argue that the findings of one of the doctors who examined him to determine his mental capacity was compromised because the doctor went out for dinner and drinks with him, his estranged wife Shelly Sterling and a family friend after his examination, his attorney Bobby Samini told ESPN.com on Monday night.
In court documents filed last week, Donald Sterling's attorneys said that "it was unclear at what point a medical examination ceased and a social interaction began, with the consumption of alcoholic beverages taking place."
Samini said Monday night that when the doctor in question is cross-examined during the four-day trial that is set to begin July 7, he would ask whether "any part of your professional evaluation would take into consideration the conversation you had with him at the Polo Lounge."
The attorneys in the case agreed Monday that Donald Sterling's mental competency will no longer be an issue in next week's trial to determine whether Shelly Sterling had the authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Instead, the trial will first focus on whether she followed the provisions of the family trust regarding competency -- which required two experts to submit letters in writing that he was not competent to conduct his own legal and business affairs -- and whether she has a responsibility to complete the sale after Donald Sterling revoked the trust on June 9.
Shelly Sterling's lawyer Pierce O'Donnell appeared with Ballmer's lawyer Adam Streisand after Monday's hearing and argued that she had a responsibility to complete the sale or the trust would have a liability from Ballmer -- who could sue for breach of contract.
The attorneys agreed to narrow the focus after Judge Michael Levanas said in court that he was not inclined to delay the July 7 hearing to accommodate a doctor who had been retained by Donald Sterling. The doctor could not be present during next week's trial because of previous professional obligations and travel plans.
A key part of Donald Sterling's legal strategy, Samini said, will be to argue that the findings of the first doctor, Meril S. Platzer, were compromised by her social interaction with the Sterlings after the exam.
Samini said he was present during the social interaction at the Polo Lounge, which is inside the Beverly Hills Hotel across the street from Sterling's Beverly Hills residence.
In previously filed court documents, it was revealed that Donald Sterling submitted to CT and PET scans at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles on May 16 and neurological examinations May 19 and 22. On the same day he submitted to the second neurological examination at his house, Donald Sterling sent a letter to the NBA informing it he'd consented to give his wife the authority to negotiate a sale of the team.
Gary Ruttenberg, another attorney for Donald Sterling, argued in court Monday that the letter on May 22 was not a blanket authorization for Shelly Sterling to sell the team but simply a consent to let her negotiate with the NBA.
Pierce O'Donnell, the lawyer for Shelly Sterling, said after the hearing that he was confident his client had followed the provisions of the trust and there were no grounds to argue she'd unduly influenced the doctor's diagnoses, as Donald Sterling had consented to allow her to negotiate the sale after both examinations had been performed.
15mChris Broussard and Marc Stein
48mNBA • ESPN.com