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Frank McCourt hits back at his old law firm’s lawsuit

Apr 12, 2011, 4:30 PM EDT

Frank McCourt

I wrote this morning about the lawsuit Frank McCourt’s former law firm filed against him, seeking a declaration that they did no wrong. Since that time I’ve had a chance to read the complaint (thanks Dodger Divorce!).  It seems sillier to me now than it did then.

Basically, the firm admits — as it must — that their lawyer was tasked with making a document that gave Frank the Dodgers and Jamie the houses. That he screwed up the exhibits to the document, allowing an executed copy to float around that fails to do what the McCourts wanted, and instead lists the Dodgers as community property. Then, when the lawyer realized his error, rather than have the wrong document destroyed and have his clients execute a new version that clearly and definitively separates the property, he just switched in the Exhibits, resulting in multiple, conflicting copies of the document to exist, thereby allowing Jamie to be willfully naive about it all and claim she really owned the Dodgers too.  Which she did successfully, and the undoing of which will cost Frank McCourt millions. The law firm’s excuse: it was merely a “scrivener’s error,” and that the real bad stuff that has happened to McCourt is all the result of him being a bad baseball owner.

Sorry, not buying it. I mean, sure, Frank McCourt has wrecked the Dodgers all by himself, but if it wasn’t for the law firm’s screwup, he’d at least own it outright and be able to wreck them in peace.  The law firm can and does cite any number of ABA ethical guidelines that say that what their employee did was OK, but the fact is that his screwup cost his client big time.  Today Frank McCourt’s spokesman said as much:

“Bingham McCutchen drafted an agreement the Court found did not comply with applicable California law and was invalid because of the conduct of the Bingham firm’s lawyers. Mr. McCourt is disappointed that the Bingham firm is unwilling to accept responsibility for its actions and is instead now trying to defend conduct that is indefensible.”

And how.

I never thought I’d see the day when I thought Frank McCourt was the sympathetic figure.  Me of all people should never have underestimated a law firm like that.

  1. halladaysbicepts - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    This owner situation with both the Dodgers and Mets is a stain on baseball. I don’t like it at all. When the talk in (2) major markets has been primarily about ownership problems, it does not bode well for the sport of baseball. Regardless of fandom of a particular team, I think most baseball fans would agree with this.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:49 PM

      All major sports have this issue, it’s not baseball specific (and don’t forget the Rangers fiasco/bankruptcy). For instance, piss poor ownership killed the Blackhawks organization for decades. There’s an example from every sport.

      • halladaysbicepts - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:59 PM

        Good point. But, when you have ownership issues in the top (2) markets in the nation, than this is a huge problem. Major population fan bases are being robbed out of the joy of talking/focusing on their teams players as opposed to franchise stability.

        Blackhawks are a different issue entirely. You’re talking about the NHL, which has had major financial issues. You really cannot compare the NHL to MLB. MLB has a FAR greater revenue stream.

  2. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Craig, you may receive a call from Bingham McCutchen soon asking you to dead this issue… Michael Clayton style.

  3. stankfinger - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Sell the team, Frank. If it helps speed the process along, think about how many more facelifts you can get with the money!

  4. victormilan - Apr 12, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    OK, I’m no lawyer – and didn’t Bingham McCutchen just stipulate to pretty much all the facts necessary for McCourt to win his inevitable malpractice suit against them?

    And in doing so, didn’t they provide further evidence of total, blithering incompetence?

  5. koufaxmitzvah - Apr 12, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    I don’t know, Craig. I’m perfectly happy with the prospect of naming my first born Bingham McCutchen. And not just because one of us will get accepted into a country club.

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