Oct 23, 2009, 8:50 AM EDT
Normally, if you fire someone at work after you stop sleeping together, you’re going to get sued for sexual harassment. Of course, what’s going on in L.A. ain’t exactly normal:
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has fired his estranged wife, Jamie, from her position as the team’s chief executive, triggering what her attorney said would be an imminent legal response.
“Jamie is disappointed and saddened by her termination,” attorney Dennis Wasser said Thursday. “As co-owner of the Dodgers, she will address this and all other issues in the courtroom.”
OK, so this one might actually be uglier than a sexual harassment suit. Those are awful, but companies survive them and often learn something in the process. This, on the other hand, is going to wreck the Dodgers for a good long while. Why? Because of this:
Jamie McCourt is believed to be lining up investors for a possible effort to buy her husband out and gain sole control of the team. In addition, she was believed to have started calling prominent baseball figures, with the intention of arranging meetings to discuss the direction of the team.
There have been ownership battles before, but they almost always involve fights over money and the analysis of contracts and stock certificates and stuff. With a married couple each claiming the team is community property, each is going to have to try and establish that they, in practice, are the owners of the team, just like a husband in any normal divorce would try to establish that he really and truly was entitled to the boat because he always used it or a wife would try and show that she gets the prized show dogs because she’s the one that grooms them.
Except with the Dodgers, it’s Frank McCourt trying to show that he owns the team by firing his wife/employee. At the same time, that “arranging meetings to discuss the direction of the team” stuff could mean that Jamie McCourt is going to try and show that she owns the team. What happens if she sends an email to Ned Colletti telling him to trade Clayton Kershaw? Or, more realistically, pledges a million bucks to some charity on behalf of the Dodgers? Based on the positions everyone is taking, it would be hard to figure out what to do.
If I were her lawyer, I’d tell her to try and show up for work this morning and see if big Frank has the stones to escort her off the premises with a security guard. If he doesn’t, it tends to show that she’s an owner too. If he does, she gets some sensational media coverage and probably no small amount of sympathy. OK, maybe I wouldn’t tell her to do that, but I’m sure some divorce lawyer would.
But even if they avoid that kind of high drama, the Dodgers now find themselves as the kids in a custody battle. And as any of you who have been in that position can attest, that’s not a fun place to be.
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