Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his ex-wife, Jamie McCourt, returned to court to fight over their divorce settlement following the $2.15 billion sale of the team.
Jamie McCourt is asking California Superior Court Judge Scott M. Gordon in Los Angeles to set aside the settlement that paid her $131 million plus a share of the couple’s residences in exchange for giving up her claim that she co-owned the Major League Baseball team.
The couple announced their settlement in October 2011, about six months before the bankruptcy court auction that led to the record $2.15 billion sale of the baseball team to a group including Guggenheim Partners; its top executive, Mark Walter; and ex-basketball player Magic Johnson.
“Once the sale was announced, I really started questioning what was going on,” Jamie McCourt testified yesterday under questioning from her attorney Bert Fields. “I was surprised I would’ve made such a huge mistake.”
Jamie McCourt last year said she wouldn’t have agreed to the $131 million if she had known the assets were worth more than $2 billion. She claimed her ex-husband said under penalty of perjury that they had a value of less than $300 million.
According to Jamie McCourt’s petition, Frank McCourt “appears to claim he was mistaken” about the value of their assets. Even if the understatement of the value of the Dodgers was a mistake rather than fraud, that provides grounds to set aside the settlement, according to the filing.
Robert Sacks, Frank McCourt’s lawyer, challenged Jamie McCourt’s assertion that the divorce settlement agreement included some contingency if the Dodgers sold for more than she might have expected at the time of the settlement.
“Where in the agreement does it say that?” Sacks asked Jamie McCourt.
Sacks also asked whether she could recall that in October 2011, when the lawyer said, she traded away any potential upside from the team’s sale in exchange for a fixed, tax-free $131 million payment, Major League Baseball was threatening a forced sale of the Dodgers in bankruptcy court.
On April 15, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross in Wilmington, Delaware, where the Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 protection, said Jamie McCourt couldn’t use secret Major League Baseball documents from the confidential mediations between baseball officials and Frank McCourt.
A New York state court judge last month ordered Peter Cohen, Blackstone Group LP’s senior managing director, to answer questions by Jamie McCourt’s lawyers. Cohen advised the Dodgers on the sale and told Forbes Magazine that the $2.15 billion price wasn’t “more than he anticipated on Day One,” according to Jamie McCourt.
The case is Jamie McCourt v. Frank McCourt, BD514309, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County.